Check Fraud Leads To Kafkaesque Nightmare For Wachovia Customer

What do you do when you have tried every possible tactic you can think of to resolve a situation, and you can still make no progress? Michael, a 20-year Wachovia customer, now finds himself in just this situation with the bank. No one at Wachovia has the power to straighten out his customer service nightmare that began when someone forged a check on his account back in June.

On June 21, someone went into a Walmart and proffered a fake check. Having seen the image of the check as provided by Wachovia, it is clearly not one of mine. Nothing about that check is correct. Fake name. Fake address. Fake drivers license number. Fake check number. The ONLY thing on that check that has any relevance to my account is the routing and checking account number at the bottom. And apparently, that’s all it takes.

My story starts off pretty great. I was on a business trip to NY and while there, I got a call from Wachovia fraud detection saying that my account appeared to have been accessed. I quickly checked my account and found that indeed there were two transactions against my account that were not mine. My old account was closed and I was given a nice new one. I worked with the assigned fraud person to get my account credited. $486.13-TWICE. I was telling friends the story of how Wachovia caught it quickly and how great they were.

Then, things went wrong. They only credited one transaction, not both. That was when I learned about ACH transactions. These are the electronic checks that are processed from trusted vendors like Walmart. In the case of an ACH transaction, a copy of the original check is not kept. In order to get the ACH transaction removed from my account, I need to simply fill out an affidavit saying I did not authorize he withdrawal and fax it to their department. I faxed the form on 6/28 with the OLD Checking account number. I faxed it again on the 6/29 with the New one.

7/7 I received a letter stating that Wachovia got my ACH dispute but the transaction did not post to that account. (It referenced the old account. The one where the fraud had actually occured.) I called Wachovia back and was told to fax the form again but with the NEW account number. I faxed it.

7/13 I received a letter stating they received my claim of an unauthorized transaction and I needed to FAX the form.

7/14 I faxed the form AGAIN.

7/23 I received a letter saying that they are provisionally crediting my account. CELEBRATION!

9/8 I received a letter saying that they have not received my fax and the credit will be withdrawn in 10 days.

9/9 I called Wachovia and spoke to a customer service rep who assured me that was sent in error.

9/22 486.13 was removed from my account.

9/24 I went to a branch office thinking that surely a person in a bank can fix this. The local
Branch Customer Service Rep was able to look at my accounts see the problem, but do nothing to fix them. She was on the phone for an hour, and SHE WORKS FOR WACHOVIA! Oh, and she faxed the form. She assured me someone would contact me in 3-5 business days.

9/30 Not having heard a peep from Wachovia in 5 business days, I went back to the bank and requested someone who could fix this. I was welcomed by a Personal Banker. She looked at my account. Saw the problem, but again she could not fix it. Guess what. She faxed the form.

I have now spent the better part of 30 HOURS dealing with this over 4 months. In between each of the letters, I have made phone calls. Long, time consuming phone calls. I have spoken to the Loss Management division, the Customer Service department, a Personal Banker, and even contacted Wachovia on Twitter (That was the most useless). I have faxed the stupid, and completely useless, ACH Dispute form SIX TIMES. No one has been able to fix this even though they all can clearly see the problem. Along the way, I have even threatened to close my account. On that occasion, I was transferred to that department and they asked how I would like my money, check or wired to a new account. Heck, even the cable company asks, “Why?”

I’m sure I’m missing some calls and faxes. Early on, I thought this issue was resolved, so I threw away a majority of the paperwork. But, if there’s a date on it above, I have that piece of paper and the documentation to prove it.

What I’ve found is a hole in Wachovia’s customer service system so large you could send the Goodyear Blimp through it sideways.

How is it that every person I’ve spoken to at Wachovia can IMMEDIATELY see the problem but NONE of them can fix it?

How is it that there is NO escalation path? None. I’ve tried nice. I’ve tried mean. I’ve tried in person.

I’ve already opened accounts at another bank. At this point, all I want is my money from Wachovia.

All Consumerist can meekly offer is our last known contact information for Wachovia executive customer service. Wells Fargo now owns Wachovia, so maybe Wells Fargo higher-ups could help with the situation, too.