Spin The Wheel, Get A Different Story About Why Wells Fargo Flagged Your Card

Craig’s Wells Fargo debit card was flagged for fraud because he was trying to buy a speaker at a high-traffic Apple Store. A merchant he made a recent purchase from has been hacked, and he will receive a new debit card soon. He’s finally receiving an “upgraded” Wells Fargo card for his former Wachovia account, even though the account changed over more than a year ago.

Each of these stories has been told to Craig on separate interactions with Wells Fargo. The problem is, he doesn’t know which one is true. And neither does the bank.

On Sunday January 29, I went to the Apple store in Grand Central Station to buy a speaker. When I went to pay, my Wells Fargo debit card was declined. I called the number on the back of the card and spoke to a representative. The representative said that the attempted transaction had raised a fraud flag, most likely due to the high rate of fraudulent purchases at the Apple store. After confirming my recent transactions, he said that I was all set. I hung up and went to pay, but my card was again declined. I called the number on the back of the card again and spoke with a different representative who then transferred me to the fraud department.

The fraud department said that a merchant had been hacked, and as a precautionary measure, the merchant had self-reported the possible compromise of my card. The representative said that a new card was sent to me on Friday, two days prior. This was news to me because I received no notification that my card had been compromised or that a new card had been issued. No unauthorized transactions showed up in my online banking. I was upset that I hadn’t been kept in the loop, but the fraud department representative said that she would remove the fraud flag from my card so that I could complete the transaction and continue to use my card.

That was 9 days ago. My card has not arrived, but my old card still works. This morning, I received a robo-call from Wells Fargo requesting that I activate my card. Despite not having the card, I called the number, got through to a representative, and told her the back story.

This time I got a completely different story. The representative said that my card had been “upgraded” from a Wachovia card to a Wells Fargo card with new limits, and that it had been issued and sent out last Thursday (5 days ago) and not the Friday before (9 days ago) as I had been previously told. She denied that I had been issued a new card because my old card had been compromised.

None of this makes any sense because my current card is a Wells Fargo card and it doesn’t expire until 2014. Was this an attempt by Wells Fargo to generate new fees by getting me to agree to use a different card? I asked the representative, but she insisted that it was due to the conversion of my account from Wachovia to Wells Fargo. (My account was issued in Alabama by a bank that was gobbled up by Wachovia; my account was converted to Wells Fargo more than a year ago.)

The representative then said that the computer was prompting her to verify my recent transactions. I told her there was no need because I was looking any my online banking and did not see any unauthorized transactions. She insisted, so we verified each transaction. Then she noticed that I had two transactions, one posted and one pending, both for $104 for the Metro card that I purchased yesterday. I told her that I had tried to purchase a Metro card yesterday, but the transaction did not go through when running my card as “credit.” I ran the card again as an ATM transaction, input my PIN, and the transaction went through.

While I noticed the pending $104 transaction prior to the call, I was not inclined to dispute it until it actually posted. Having worked as a teller at the gobbled-up bank a decade ago, I know that these pending transactions usually go away after a few days if no transaction actually goes through. I told the representative that I would just dispute it if it posted, but she insisted on creating a claim and transferring me to the claims department. After waiting on hold for 10 minutes, the claims department told me that I should monitor my account and call back if it actually posts–the same plan I had before I called.

Was my card compromised? Is Wells Fargo trying to push a new product on me? Or was my only sin shopping at the Apple store? I’m afraid to ever call back, lest I get one more different story.

You could keep calling in, and whatever story you hear twice just might be the correct one. Or maybe someone in one of the fancier stagecoaches at Wells Fargo can put you in touch with someone who has enough power to know what’s actually going on.