WaMu Saddles Credit Card Theft Victim With Thousands In Fraudulent Charges

Someone stole reader A’s WaMu credit card number and racked up thousands in fraudulent charges, and now WaMu wants A to pay for it. The fraudsters also made a PIN request for a cash advance over the phone, and WaMu said that phonecall orginated from A’s parents house. Because of this, which A says is impossible, WaMu demands A be responsible for the charges. He’s written letters and called executive customer service and it’s gotten him nowhere. His crappy story, inside…

I have a major problem going on with my WaMu credit card. I had thousands of dollars fraudulently charged in California and now they are saying I owe this money because the call came from the telephone number associated with my account. Do you have any advice? I just don’t know where to start. Each time I try, I hit a dead end.
For instance, I’ve tried to get the telephone records to prove the call was not made from the phone number on the account because this is what WAMU requested from me before they will ever reinvestigate this case with there fraud department. The phone company will not release that information without a subpoena. I’ve gone to the police but they say there is nothing they can since the crime happened in California. Please help me if you think there’s anything I can do im at my wits end.

This is a credit card but they did used a pin number to withdrawal cash from the card in addition to using the card for purchases at Target. The charges happened around November 22 and I reported them as fraud to WaMu in December when I saw them on my statement. It took about a month to process the fraud investigation and they took the charges off my account for January. This month I got a letter claiming I am responsible for these charges because, according to their records, the pin request to withdrawal cash was made from my parents number in Arvada, which is the number on the account. All these fraudulent charges were made in California. My guess is they had my information and made the call from a some type of web site that disguises the actual number they are calling from and makes it look like it’s coming from another number (my parents’ number in this case).

I called executive customer service and they would patch me over to Rosita saying she couldn’t help me but I explained my case to them again, asking to l re look this over. They said they would call me back in two days and its been about two week with no call so I wrote this letter and send it with my last bill:

“With reference To card number ending in

This is to inform you that I have no intentions of paying any charges, interest or penalties incurred in California on my WaMu visa. All these charges occurred over a 2 day period. November 23-24, 2008. The card was and is in my possession. I live and work in Colorado including the dates in question. I have never requested nor used a PIN number. How could this have ever been verified by a phone call? I do not know anyone in the Los Angeles area.

Since August 2008 I have not used that card at all. This is to be reported as identity theft, already reported locally. You as a creditor are entitled by law to report to the collections agency of your choosing as identity theft.

Enclosed is payment in full for all charges for which I am responsible including current accrued interest, consider this my stimulus gift to your troubled institution.

Why did this occur the Monday after your November 21. 2008 layoff of 1600 employees? Certainly your new owners, Chase, and Obama USA, need to be apprised of your sloppy security measures as well.”

I’m betting that the takeover has something to do with the WaMu’s non-responsiveness. A should try kicking this up the CHASE corporate ladder. For privacy reasons, Chase, which owns WaMu, declined to comment on A’s case, but said they would look into and have someone get in touch with A.

(Image: Elton Lin)


Edit Your Comment

  1. jaybeas says:

    I’m guessing the effort to anonymize A’s name happened after this post was written – you still have A’s full first name in the last two sentences.

  2. kylere says:

    I am sure his editorializing about Obama and layoffs will help his case. /sarcasm off

    In receipt of that letter, I would certainly not be motivated to go the extra mile to help him. I doubt anyone else would either, the best approach to handling issues is to be reasonable and try to get them on your side.

    • Face Imploder says:

      @kylere: I agree. The end of the letter really threw me off, because I thought this guy actually wanted help.
      But we all know the best way to get someone to help you is to insult them.

    • chargernj says:

      @kylere: True, but this is an identity theft issue and the law requires the banks to do certain things, even if they don’t want to “go the extra mile”.

      Doing the minimun that the law requires shouldn’t be classified as “going the extra mile”.

      • idip says:

        @chargernj: They did do the minimum, the investigated and found him to be in fault. Whether or not it was the right decision, who knows. We don’t know that the OP is a victim of Identity Theft.

        In fact, identity theft would be if someone opened a new credit card in his name.

        This is not the case, this is credit card fraud, where someone, allegedly, used his card without his permission.

        These cases are not always so easy to figure out, perhaps the OP had previous claims of fraud on his account? Perhaps he has been known to make transactions in California.

        I’m not trying to blame the OP. I’m merely pointing out the fact that we only have one part of the story. And it’s a lot easier to claim fraud if you commit fraud and attack the company on a public website like this one, without any information from the company. On top of that, the company cannot provide any information about the case because of privacy laws.

        Food for thought.

        • greggen says:

          @idip: Identity Theft is where someone pretends to be you and requests a PIN to withdraw cash from your credit card line of credit. But yes, this is also credit card fraud.

          Sure, we dont know if anyone who posts to consumerist is really a fraudster looking to falsely malign a company, but I would guess the vast majority are truly reporting a real problem.

          Did you read the part about where your poor attacked honest credit card company required phone records, records which cannot be released without a subpoena? Something OP could not get on his own? Then they based their denial of fraud on the fact that A could not get those phone records? I think the credit card company could have filed the police report needed to get those phone records, what do you think?

          And I must say, I love the speculation of new info, like the interjection about how the OP might have reported fraud before, or his shopping habits in other states…

          Heres hoping that you never get caught up in a similar situation, but if you do, PLEASE come and post here so you can listen to trolls blaming you for getting yourself into a mess.

          • idip says:

            @greggen: See, it’s the attitude you present in your post that is exactly the same attitude in the letter from the OP which will result in nothing.

            Being snarky or typing with sarcasm and taking little punches here and there solves nothing.

            Okay so the bank wants him to have the phone records, he goes to the phone company and they say no, does he have a police report? no, locals won’t do anything. Has he called the California Police in the location the charges happened? No. Well… no police report, no ‘record’ of a crime. Maybe he’ll have better luck with the police report and can talk to someone in the legal department of the phone company to get phone records, or can ask his parents for a copy of their phone bill.

            No, the bank cannot file the police report, it’s not a crime committed against them, it’s committed against the customer who must file the report.

            “And I must say, I love the speculation of new info, like the interjection about how the OP might have reported fraud before, or his shopping habits in other states…”


            I’m trying to help you people understand why the claim may have been denied. YOU are blindly assuming his innocence. I”m trying to tell you what might cause a bank to deny a fraud dispute and you attack me?

            Perhaps it would be better that we just do what Consumerist did and post a HUGE picture of the company that says “FAIL” what’s the point of commenting right? We already know that he is right and the bank is wrong. That the bank never has a reason to deny a fraud claim. That THE VAST MAJORITY of fraud claims are REAL.

            I suppose we won’t even touch deposit fraud and how often that happens at banks. I mean, depositing empty envelopes and getting money in return, that’s the banks fault too.

            “Heres hoping that you never get caught up in a similar situation, but if you do, PLEASE come and post here so you can listen to trolls blaming you for getting yourself into a mess.”

            Some may not see it but your “I HOPE THIS HAPPENS TO YOU” remark is uncalled for. If you want to remain ignorant of the possibilities fine, that’s your choice.

          • mmmsoap says:

            @greggen: I don’t see how either of these examples are blaming the OP. He could have reported fraud before, and he could have made purchases in other states (not necessarily CA), and that would affect how WaMu treats the case. For most companies, if it’s not obviously cut-and-dried in the favor of the customer, they rule against them.

            Additionally, the location of the transactions doesn’t necessarily matter, as internet transactions are frequently posted in other states. Unless the transaction is very obviously conducted at a brick-and-mortar facility, like a McDonald’s or ATM, then (again) WaMu probably isn’t going to invest much in tracking down the whole story.

    • idip says:

      @kylere: I agree. Although, I sympathize for his position. Having actually worked for WaMu and getting numberous calls (litterally 5-6 hours of people yelling at me for an 8 hour shift) becasue someone else didn’t do their job…

      Yelling at me for something I didn’t do certainly did not make me want to go above and beyond. In fact those are the people I would cold transfer off to someone else.

      The people who were nice to me were the people I actually GOT IN TROUBLE for because I wanted to help solve their problem, those were the calls that I was on the phone for literally 30 minutes when the call center pushes for a 2 minute handle time.

    • pop top says:

      @kylere: I was just about to make the same point. Every time Cosumerist discusses EECBs or any type of contact with a company, they always stress to be thoughtful and avoid being abusive or snarky.

      I’m sure the OP thought he was getting in some sort of “fuck you Dad, I’m piercing my nose” pot shot, but it just makes him look immature and won’t endear him to anyone who could help.

    • DefineStatutory says:


      so close, but yet so far…that snarky bit at the end is going to take anyone who reads the letter thinking “wow, I’d really like to help this guy” and turn them right back off. 90% well written letter, 10% idiocy.

      • korybing says:

        @DefineStatutory: Exactly. This guy is getting shafted and I hope that WaMu finally does something about this, but the snarkiness at the end he comes off as immature and childish, which will not help his case, no matter how valid his arguments are.

  3. Cocoa Vanilla says:

    Banks generally use 800 numbers which would allow them to see the ANI – the actual BILLED phone number. Caller ID can be spoofed; ANI can’t (at least, not easily). However, cell phones and VoIP phones generally use a different ANI than their caller ID. If your parents use a landline, you should ask Chase/WaMu to check the ANI of the call.

    • edison234 says:

      @Cocoa Vanilla: A few questions…
      ANI is an acronym for Automatic Number Identification, correct?
      Is this information always transmitted when making a phone call?
      I assume that special equipment is required to gather the ANI information. Is that equipment standard issue from a telecom vendor for in-bound customer service phone centers?
      I wonder if it is on by default if it is standard.

      One more question… Are there any consumer ANI ID devices available? That would be nice for the annoying telemarketers!

      • oceanstate says:


        The ANI is almost always transmitted in the data stream of the call, unless the caller has intentionally blocked it from being transmitted. No special equipment is needed to pick it up. Most of the call center technology out there (Avaya, Aspect, etc.), build in the capability of reading ANI. The receiving company has to activate the process of saving the ANI for each call.

        The consumer doesn’t have to have special equipment to read ANI. It’s what shows up on your caller ID.

        • edison234 says:

          @oceanstate: But if the ANI is what shows up on my caller ID, why did Cocoa Vanilla say it can be spoofed but ANI can’t? If this is true, then why was there trouble with finding out the identity of the car warranty robocallers?

          • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

            @edison234: I’m sorry, but oceanstate is wrong. ANI is NOT Caller ID. Rather than get into all the details here, I’ll just mention that the two articles at Wikipedia (“Automatic Number Identification” and “Caller ID”) have decent explanations of each service.

          • IphtashuFitz says:

            @edison234: ANI data is generated by the billing information used by the telcos, so it’s pretty much guaranteed to be accurate. It is a part of WATS (Wide Area Telephone Service) which is the foundation of toll free 800/888/etc. service. These services are provided over digital lines (typically T1 lines) and the ANI data is simply a part of that digital signal.

            Caller ID is a consumer-oriented service that the telcos essentially hacked together to fill the demand for it. Caller ID is designed to operate over analog “POTS” telephone lines, which is what virtually every residential phone in the US was up until the advent of VOIP services. Since POTS lines are analog you can’t send a digital signal over it, so the Caller ID protocol injects what is basically a datastream like those between two analog modems between the first and second ring of the phone.

            Caller ID data can be spoofed fairly easily because the Caller ID protocol basically assumes that the originator of a call is properly identifying itself. If a call originates on a digital line, which is standard for organizations that have large PBX’s like big corporations, call centers, telemarketers, etc. then the telephone network simply relies on that PBX to provide the Caller ID data. It’s a fairly simple matter to reprogram a PBX to display a different name and/or number. ANI data, however, is generated internally by the telco mainly for billing purposes.

            Here’s an example of why the two are handled differently: A company like Dell has a huge technical support department (actually they have many, for the sake of argument suppose they have one). That department may have a requirement for 1000 telephone lines. The telco provides that to Dell in the form of multiple digital lines (like a T1) which each can carry dozens of simultaneous calls. The telco assigns a unique phone number to each of those 1000 lines for accounting & billing purposes. So the individual phone numbers 800-555-1000 to 800-555-1999 may connect to one of each of those 1000 individual lines. Now all of those 1000 lines feed into a PBX at the support department, and when you call Dell’s toll free support number the telco knows that it should route your call to any one of those 1000 lines that is currently free. The PBX answers the call, puts you into a queue, and routes you to the next support rep. when they become available. If the support rep. needs to call you back then the PBX finds one of those 1000 lines that are free and routes the reps. call over that line to call you.

            Now in the above scenario if ANI was used to provide the Caller ID data then the first time Dell support called you then you might see 800-555-1927 show up on your Caller ID display, the next time you might see 800-555-1364, etc. Not only would the random numbers seem confusing to most people but Dell doesn’t want you to call that number back. They want you to call the main 800 support number. If you call 800-555-1364 back you might get a busy signal if another call was already using that specific number. By calling the main 800 support number the telco knows to route you to whichever of the 1000 lines are free. But by calling the specific number the telco assumes you know what you’re doing. So Dell support wants your Caller ID to show up as “Dell Support (800) 555-DELL” (or whatever their main number is) and not the actual digital line number that the call originated from. So this information is programmed into Dell’s PBX and provided to the telco when a call is placed from the PBX. The telco then uses that data for your Caller ID display.

            So in a nutshell, the customer wants to display a specific message & phone number via Caller ID no matter which outgoing phone line is actually used to place the call, whereas the telco needs to identify each specific line individually for billing/accounting/support purposes, which is what ANI is for.

            • RandomZero says:

              For the record, while ANI might be invincible in theory, not so much in practice. I use it on a daily basis – it’s a crucial part of my company’s fraud countermeasures, in fact – and I see garbled ones routinely. Most commonly it’ll be a random string of digits – not a valid country or area code in sight. Interestingly, I’ve also seen a string of zeros on a number of occasions – and nine times out of ten, it’s suspicious if not obvious fraud. I have no idea why or how this is happening, but it is.

              • Cocoa Vanilla says:

                @RandomZero: The ANI can be blank if the caller op-diverts. (Call the operator and ask to be connected to an 800 number, and the ANI will be blank.)

                @edison234: oceanstate is wrong. The car warranty robocallers were identified after someone forwarded their number to an 800 number (which provides ANI). It’s on BinRev somewhere.

                • Anonymous says:

                  I worked for a company that built IVR systems and we routinely spoofed ANI. In fact in ACD situations where we couldn’t directly integrate, that is how we screen popped information. It can be done with the right equipment depending on the telco. For example, I believe we did this with ATT lines via 2b channel transfers. However I might not be correct on the telco.

                • Razorgirl says:

                  LIDB information could also be applicable here.

              • mzs says:

                @RandomZero: The reason that ANI can be spoofed is because the telco has no way to do this in general before the connection is made:

                Inside plant exchange send a token back to the central office routed by the ANI number.

                That central office sends back the token if it has a record of the call.

                The problem is that there are lots of PBXs out there in lieu of central offices so even if they could do the check they would trust the PBX in that case.

                So what can be done is that someone that can config the PBX for a company can also twiddle with the ANI.

                Lots of telcos then verify that the number they get inside plant at an exchange is within the appropriate range. There are two kinds of checks, is it inward WATS, and even more carefully is it in the correct range.

                Some telcos though get things mis configured or don’t check (the second case), and also some companies want to have outwards WATS from their PBX as well so the telco accomidates (hence the first check cannot be made).

                This is pretty unlikely though. If you got the police involved the telco could comb the data and see the suspicious call originating from the PBX.

                The random string of digits are note really random, most likely it is some VOIP user without a land line.

      • Cocoa Vanilla says:

        @edison234: In some cases you may be able to forward your calls to an 800 number and get the ANI. That’s the easiest way for a typical home user to receive the ANI. However, you’re still going to pay for the calls to your 800 number, so this is only useful to deal with prank callers.

        It’s possible to get the ANI with local numbers as well, with a certain setup from the telco – an expensive one.

        ANI is not caller ID either. ANI provides both an originating phone number (the one the call is BILLED to) and the type of phone (coin phone, home phone, etc.). Since calls are billed to the ANI number, it’s much more reliable – I’m quite sure the telcos would fix an issue that would prevent them from charging the proper party. ;)

  4. JediJohn82 says:

    His letter is a bit snarky…it should have been way more professional if he really wanted someone to pay attention.

  5. bravo369 says:

    Why would you need a subpoena for your own phone records. Ok, it’s the parent’s phone number so have them request it. am i missing something? shouldn’t that also come each month with the phone bill?

    • idip says:

      @bravo369: I wondered the same thing.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @bravo369: Once, in college, I was getting harassing phone calls, and they told me I needed a subpoena to see my phone records. I was a little boggled by the whole thing, although I can kinda see how they might not want to hand over incoming numbers, I guess. But they wanted a subpoena for my OUTGOING calls too (except long distance, which they would provide me a list of). It was so weird.

      (They also wouldn’t let me block the number without a police report and something like a 96-hour waiting period to see if the calls stopped on their own. I was like, “SRSLY?” Ditto when a fax machine called me at 9 a.m. every day. I could make a police report on the fax machine for harassing me, wait 96 hours, and THEN get it blocked, or I could learn to live with it. They wouldn’t even help me figure out where the fax calls originated from so I could call the company and be like “stop it, jerks.”)

      The point of which is, phone companies do things in really bizarre, counterintuitive ways for no apparent reason.

      • locakitty says:

        @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): I was getting the fax calls at 4:30 a.m. on my cell phone. Repeated faxes to that number didn’t stop it. The phone company wouldn’t help me because I wasn’t a customer of theirs and the cell phone company wouldn’t help because the fax number wasn’t a number of theirs! I finally just saved the number and put it on a silent ring tone.

        • jimconsumer says:

          @locakitty: I once got regular fax calls as well, way back when we still used modems to connect to the Internet. I finally got sick of it and transferred the call to my faxmodem’s line the next time it came in. I received a bunch of faxes stamped “confidential” and intended for the local public utility district. I printed ’em out, took ’em down and handed them to the district manager. He was aghast. “Where did you get these?!” Some goofball in another district office had programmed my number into their fax machine by mistake so all of their faxes were being sent to my line.

          It stopped immediately after that.

    • rekoil says:

      @bravo369: Only if it’s a cellphone. Landline bills only itemize long-distance calls (calls with specific charges involved), not local or 800-number calls.

      • Inglix_the_Mad says:

        @rekoil: LUDS, Local User Directory Services. LUDS basically is a record of every call a person has, including time / duration. Since it can include people other than the requester, you need a subpoena (so the phone company doesn’t get sued by John Q. because Jane Y. was requesting the info because Paul Z. was harrassng her)

        • Corporate_guy says:

          @Inglix_the_Mad: Why would the phone company give you phone records for a different phone? If you pay for the phone line, you have a right to the records.

    • greggen says:

      @bravo369: Landline companies (at least here in Minnesota) have never provided a list of phonecalls. When I requested this, I was told it would cost $100 and would require the subpoena.

      I am guessing if they ever start metering the service, giving you 100 minutes a month they will have to start itemizing the calls, but until then, you are out of luck

      • akuma_x says:

        @greggen: I don’t know about all phone companies but the one I work for doesn’t store customer’s phone records. It is handled by a third party and costs us around $100 for each time we need somebodies records. We require the subpoena in order to obtain records because it shows the customer is serious about getting the issue resolved so it’s worth our cost to get the records for them. Versus we get the call records for the customer, pay the $100, and then the customer decides that they have better things to do and don’t persue it further.

    • humphrmi says:

      @bravo369: The subpoena isn’t because they’re protecting your privacy, it’s because they’re protecting their butts.

      • Corporate_guy says:

        @humphrmi: Protecting their butts does not involved hiding a person’s own phone records. You should not need a subpoena for that. Hell, if you had purchased a 1-800 number they would automatically give you the list.

  6. wcnghj says:

    Probably used a spoofing service.

  7. bohemian says:

    So if Wamu is shaking someone down for money that he doesn’t owe them isn’t that technically a crime? It would seem like that is fraud of some sort. Since they were made aware of the mistake and have decided to continue to pursue the guy for money he does not owe that seems to have crossed that line.

    Getting a lawyer or the police involved might be enough of a wake up call to get Wamu motivated to deal with this.

    • idip says:

      @bohemian: From what it looks like, they are not ‘shaking him down’ for money. They want him to pay for charges on his credit card.

      He sent in a fraud claim report but it didn’t come back in his favor. For whatever reason, WaMu decided it wasn’t fraud and he is responsible for the charges.

      It’s not as simple as, oh you accidentally charged me two monthly service fees. (That would be a mistake)

      He also does not have a police report about the ‘crime’ of credit card fraud, which I’m sure is not helping his position.

      • Corporate_guy says:

        @idip: Well if his local police won’t let him file a report, then there is really nothing he can do. He isn’t going to travel to california just to file a report.

        • Powerlurker says:


          You don’t need to actually go out there. You can call the local police department out there and take care of most of it over the phone.

      • jimconsumer says:

        @idip: It doesn’t matter what WaMu decided. They don’t have the power to say, “Oh, this isn’t fraud, you have to pay.” If the guy didn’t charge the stuff, he’s not responsible no matter what those idiots at WaMu say.

    • bravo369 says:

      @bohemian: I was thinking lawyer too if wamu refuses to conduct a fraud investigation and keeps asking for payments. i’m guessing the card wasn’t stolen…just the number used so are you supposed to file a police report in this situation as well? maybe that will help the process

  8. usa_gatekeeper says:

    Wow, this one sent a few chills down my back … the ability to obtain data like pin numbers against a stolen card, simply by electronically masquerading the phone number then asking for AND GETTING the pin from the card issuer. Is this a whole new phase of card scamming?

    • rekoil says:

      @usa_gatekeeper: I know for a fact that Caller ID data can be easily spoofed. I’ve done it myself, in fact (you know, proof of concept)…

      Which brings the question – if an ANI is always your “real” phone number, what shows up when you call a landline using SkypeOut or other desktop-VOIP service where you don’t have a source phone number?

  9. lincolnparadox says:

    I wonder if A has contacted the police in California yet? A friend of my had her ex-bf go and commit check fraud with a check that she wrote for him in California. The guy just added a 1 to the beginning of the number on the check and the bank actually cashed it for that amount. The local PD picked him up and charged him. The dude did jail time, but she never got her $1000 back.

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @lincolnparadox: Strange, it would seem like the bank is responsible for fraud like that. Especially since the written words should not have matched.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:


      “The guy just added a 1 to the beginning of the number on the check and the bank actually cashed it for that amount….but she never got her $1000 back.”

      Why did she write a check for $0 in the first place?

    • MrEvil says:

      @lincolnparadox: AFAIK, the numerical amount doesn’t mean JACK on a check. It’s just there to make processing checks easier for OCR systems. The line that counts is the written amount. Unless your friend is leaving enough space to write in “One thousand” ahead of the rest of the written amount it could have been disputed with the bank. That’s the whole purpose of the written amount (also referred to as the legal amount) on a check. Its there so there can’t be disputes of “Oh I wrote it wrong” on a check.

  10. Anonymous says:

    From the web:

    Telus’ toll-free “dial-around” is 800-646-0000, by simply calling this number with an ANI-fail you can give the operator any number as where you are calling from. As of January 2003, Telus can now place calls to many toll free numbers and the CPN will show up as whatever number you say you’re calling from. So by simply causing an ANI-fail to Telus dial-around service you can spoof Caller ID to anyone you want to call, not only that if the person you are calling is in the same area as the number you are spoofing, the NAME and number shows up on the caller ID display. To cause an ANI fail to Telus all you have to do is op-divert to 800-646-0000 or dial 10-10-288-0 and touch tone 800-646-0000 when AT&T comes on the line.

    • Cocoa Vanilla says:

      @UlanBaazo: That’s old info. AT&T won’t divert to an 800 number anymore. I just called the Qwest operator who was able to put me through, and indeed Telus asked me for the number I’m calling from. There seemed to be some confusion since I’m calling from the US. But I doubt they’d spoof the ANI – more likely just the caller ID.

  11. anthonyhasp says:

    I think that it is unlikely that a scammer is going to go through this level of effort to rip someone (who likely does not have a very high credit line) off. They would need to do the following:
    1. Actually get the credit card number (and likely the security code)
    2. Need phone number on the account.
    3. Need pin number.
    4. Need to find someway to fake the ANI system.

    What is more likely is that someone else in his parents household (a younger sibling perhaps) received (or requested) a replacement card and used it.

    • nakedscience says:


      What is more likely is that someone else in his parents household (a younger sibling perhaps) received (or requested) a replacement card and used it.

      Which shouldn’t matter.

      • Powerlurker says:


        The problem is that as far as WAMU is concerned, he is the one who requested it. If he wants to prove that it wasn’t him that called from his own phone number to request the PIN, he’d probably need to file a police report.

      • henwy says:


        Of course it matters. As it stands, they think he did it. If he can show it wasn’t him and it was in fact a family member or someone else who lived in the house, he can have the police arrest them, get the report and submit it to refute the fraud.

    • Anonymous says:

      Most people don’t secure the demarc, so it’s easy to plug in a phone from the outside of the house and make a call from that line. Obviously you need to do it when no one is home to pick up the phone, or you’ll get caught.

    • FrankReality says:


      There was a recent case here in Minnesota where a cleaning woman did precisely that.

      Not that the OP did this, but it’s a good idea to not leave checkbooks, check blanks, extra credit cards, etc. out in the open where contractors, baby sitters, service persons, house guests, etc. can get to them.

      But I’d agree, even if the number is his parents house and the OP doesn’t live there, it shouldn’t matter – unless the OP left an old card or old statement w/ card data there after one of his visits.

  12. humphrmi says:

    The letter as others said was a bit snarky, and also did not meet the legal requirements to withhold payment. I can’t site the legal requirements myself, but I’ve done some and generally you want to cover the specific charges that you feel are invalid, including all the information from the statement, and the reason that you feel they are invalid. Then you have to state, specifically, that you are challenging those charges and withholding payment. Legally they cannot collect those challenged amounts until they investigate and respond back to you.

    I hate to dis the OP but a properly worded letter will automatically set off a legal process that the bank cannot ignore.

    • scoosdad says:

      @humphrmi: And usually, a letter like this should not go to the same address that the bill goes back to with payment. Those are usually just payment clearing houses and would probably toss any other correspondence that comes with the check. Most of my bills have a separate, different address to send this type of correspondence to, printed somewhere else on the bill.

  13. SoCalGNX says:

    Yeah! Obama has been in office for four months, why the hell hasn’t he fixed everything!!!

  14. lulfas says:

    Yeah, your letter was good, until you went all douchebag at the end. I’d be less likely to help you now.

    • jimconsumer says:

      @lulfas: Dude, if you’re WaMu, you don’t have a choice. You don’t get to say, “Oh, well, I didn’t like the tone of this letter. I’m going to pretend the fraud never existed and send this guy to collections to pay for it.”

      That kind of shit is how you get your ass sued.

  15. Guvmint_Cheese says:

    Why was the telephone number associated with the account his parents’ number, especially if they lived out of state? If he is responsible for the bill, shouldn’t that number have been his own, regardless of whether they had co-signed for the card or if he was living in CA at some point?

    And this is just one more reason to go cell phone only. If a company ever questions whether I made a call to them, I can produce a record of every number dialed over the last several years.

  16. MaytagRepairman says:

    The simplest explanation is usually the best answer. I’m thinking the fraud is being committed by a relative or somebody else with access to that phone number.

  17. Michael Ortega says:

    Instead of blaming these people in every story, why don’t we come up with a list of rules of Consumer Do’s and Don’ts. I’ll go first : Don’t use a debit card for Important purchases

    • fantomesq says:

      @Michael Ortega: Because such a list is useless after the fact and is equivalent to blaming the victim. We already have a list which forbids blaming the victim and yet posters do it every day. How will a new list change this?

      • idip says:

        @fantomesq: I haven’t seen one person say:

        “IT”S THE OP’s FAULT!”

        What is the point of having a discussion, argument, debate? If you won’t look at both sides.

        People here are posting their opinions of what may have happened, or what could effect the outcome.

        People disagree on many topics. That’s what having an opinion, thoughts, intelligence is.

    • Skin Art Squared says:

      @Michael Ortega:

      I use a debit card and physical paper checks for EVERYTHING.

      Why? I don’t trust the credit card companies one single bit. Not even a little.

      But I’m also very in tune and in touch with my accounts. I check them easily 5 times a day, either online or by phone, and if need be my bank is literally 1 block away. I keep them on speed dial and active in a browser tab at all times. Everyone working there knows me, what accounts I have, and that not another living soul has authorization of any kind. Any shenanigans on my accounts and they will know it.

      I also have a second bank for paying people i really really really don’t trust. Like credit card companies or anyone that refuses any form of payment other than electronic debit, of which I currently only have one to deal with. Money is transferred 2 days prior, at the exact amount, and nothing is leftover sitting around in there.

      Paranoid? Perhaps. But I’ve been ripped off before. They managed to steal all my credit cards (now ALL completely shut down), bank accounts, the works. No card ever left my possession, but somehow they got them all. It took nearly a year to finally stop them, since they were changing info in existing cards, and setting up new ones faster than I could shut them down.

      It sucks tremendously to be some thief’s bitch, and it will never happen to me again. I’m making damned certain of it.
      The INSTANT I see anything questionable on my account, (perhaps something I don’t remember, like maybe a trip to Burger Fling for lunch) it is nailed down and verified by whatever means necessary before I will move on with life.

      So yeah…. I have no problem using my debit card for everything. But I’m militant about it.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      @Michael Ortega: One reason to not adopt your rule about debit cards is because a sizeable (and I suspect growing) proportion of people do not have credit cards. A source I found says about 22% of adults in the U.S. have no credit cards. And “credit card” doesn’t mean MC/ Visa/ Amex/ Discover. It also means merchant cards. This suggests the % of people with credit cards they can use for major purchases is even lower. And many people with major cards may have low charge limits, or may be maxed out, meaning they have cards and can’t use them much.

  18. savdavid says:

    Your reference to Obama is not helpful. Where is Arvada? Is it in CA or CO? If CA, I find it strange you claim you know no one in CA. Your snippy letter to the bank saying you aren’t paying isn’t helpful and your use of the word “entitled” is just strange. Do you mean “required”?
    Instead of blaming the President I think you need to blame yourself for not managing your personal information with more care.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      @savdavid: A simple map search finds there is an Arvada, CO but not an Arvada, CA. Don’t blame people without getting your facts together.

      Yeah he’s snippy, but then he’s fighting over thousands of dollars. Give him a pass. He’s also just a little funny.

      He’s actually required by law to tell the bank he’s disputing (aka ‘not paying’) the charges.

      He’s not blaming Obama. He’s saying that the bank is not performing up to par, and that the people now in charge of the banks (not really, but it sorta seems that way), e.g. Obama, Chase et al., should be apprised of the poor level of service bailed out banks are providing to their customers.

      Identity theft and fraud mean that somebody made a deliberate play for his personal information, and to subsequently steal money from his accounts. It doesn’t mean he is in any way not safeguarding his personal information. There are so many ways people can get personal information these days, online and off. There doesn’t need to be an assumption that the victim was remiss.

    • coolteamblt says:

      @savdavid: I can’t speak for California, but as a Denverite, I can tell you that Arvada is a city northwest of Denver.

    • Alessandro Machi says:


      There is an Arcadia California, I think there is also be an Arcata, CA.

  19. ChuckECheese says:

    If you use SkypeOut but don’t have an incoming number assigned to the account, the caller ID will transmit either zeros or number salad, such as 000050034. Businesses that rely on CID area code information to assign calls (such as AAA auto service) find this annoying.

    There are sites online that allow you to place calls while spoofing the caller ID. So it’s pretty easily done.

    Banks aren’t paying terribly close attention to these things. They’re in crisis. Several years ago when I requested a PIN for a credit card, they refused to provide it by phone. They accepted the request, then mailed the PIN to my address of record. I’m surprised they’d allow PINs to be requested over the phone.

    • Mr_Human says:

      @ChuckECheese: Skype lets you specify an outgoing Caller ID number now. They used to not in the US, but people were complaining about that and I guess Skype finally fixed it.

      • MrEvil says:

        @Mr_Human: However, it’s ONLY numbers that can receive SMS (cell phones). You enter the number you wish to be displayed, a text is sent, you confirm with Skype and now your cell# is displayed when you call.

  20. morganlh85 says:

    And who is to say (not actually accusing anyone here, but it’s a possibility) that OP’s parents, or someone visiting their home, did not commit the identity theft? Is it not STILL identity theft? They should be investigating this, not just passing the buck to the customer.

  21. Bertmanintx says:

    How does that work with calls where the caller ID comes up with a number. When you call that number back, you get a “please check the number and try again” error announcement?

  22. sventurata says:

    It’s considered a domestic dispute. The logic behind this is that people are loath to see their kids/relatives/friends go to jail.

    If the OP filed a police report and gave the bank full permission to charge the thief, then sure they would investigate. Otherwise it’s wasted time and money when the victim decides not to press charges against their loved ones. In virtually every case, alternate repayment arrangements are made.

  23. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I agree, the smart-ass remarks in the last two lines aren’t helping your case one bit.

    I’m also guessing that there’s more to this story. It seems unlikely to me that in this day and age of credit-card skimmers and other easier ways to to commit credit card fraud that someone would go through this kind of trouble to get your number, request a PIN or duplicate card, intercept the card at your mailbox, take the card to California and then withdraw the cash with it while spoofing caller-ID. Sounds very messy and time consuming to me.

    I would also guess that a family member or family friend (and I use the term loosely) is somehow involved.

    I also think WaMu has a responsibility to investigate further and not just jump to the foregone conclusion that the OP is committing fraud.

  24. Jennifer Jordan says:

    I worked for a company in Omaha, NE doing credit card fraud detection in 2007/2008. For a while, before WaMu went in the shit hole, we did their fraud detection. It’s a nightmare how easily their cards are spoofed and accounts taken over. Our systems would monitor their transactions and each transaction that reached a fraud score (much like a credit score) set by WaMu would get a computer generated call and then connected to someone in Omaha. We would ask them about transactions and shut off their card if it came to being fraud.

    Tons of people would still have their credit cards on them, and would be skeptical that fraud occurred even when it was obvious they did not use their card at Target in California when in Colorado. They also have a way of knowing if it was keyed or swiped at the register.

    So while they have a way to stop it from happening, WaMu pulled their contract from my company and went “in-house” before this happened. Only suggestion is to get a lawyer who can request a subpoena to get some records from the phone company, the credit card company’s recordings and notes from the account, and Target’s surveillance and sue.