Wells Fargo Fraud Prevention – Who Protects us from them?


Today is Thursday. This past Sunday – that’s four days ago – I was in a store and decided to buy something for my girlfriend. No problem, I use my Wells Fargo credit card and pay for the item. About twenty minutes later, we decide to buy one more thing in the same store. I attempt to pay for it using the same card.

No go.

I just shook my head in frustration and pulled out my American Express card – lucky, since I didn’t have another credit card with me. Sometime later, Wells Fargo leaves me a message that Fraud Prevention wanted to speak with me. I called them. I went through the litany of giving: my card number, my social security number, my mother’s maiden name, my date of birth, the billing address on the card, and the security code on the back of the card. I verify all the charges I’ve made, both in person and the ones I made online. Everything’s copacetic – I continue with my long-standing relationship with Wells Fargo.

For about an hour.

My girlfriend and I go to Dick’s Sporting Goods. She finds something she wants, but it’s not in her size. No problem, they can order it and have the item sent directly to our house. Wow, that’s fantastic. I pay for it with my Wells Fargo credit card. A short time later, still in Dick’s Sporting Goods, I attempt to pay for what we originally went there to buy in the first place.

No go.

It turns out the order from the store billed from somewhere in Pennsylvania and I’m in a retail location in New York. No worries, Fraud Prevention is on the case and puts a block on my card. I call them again, repeating the same litany as before. Everything seems copacetic – I continue with my long-standing relationship with Wells Fargo, albeit with a little more grumbling.

We go to lunch. I pay for lunch with my now-cleared, ready-to-use Wells Fargo card. No problem. By early evening, my girlfriend and I are tired from shopping and go to the diner for a light supper. I think you see where I’m heading here. I can’t call them again because I’m afraid I will have a heart attack right in the diner. Once more, my American Express card comes to the rescue.

So here we are today, Thursday. I finally summon the nerve to call Fraud Prevention to see what’s up with the card. We do the now familiar litany, verify all my charges, including the ones I’ve already verified, but this time there’s a catch. The wizards at Fraud Prevention now insist that I take myself and my Wells Fargo card to a local branch so I can prove who I am and to prove that no dastardly deeds have been committed using my account. I work in lower Manhattan. The branches near my home don’t open before I leave for work and are closed by the time I get home at night, so the nearest one is ten miles away from me. I explain this to the yahoo’s on the phone, but they claim ‘there is nothing they can do to lift the block’. So I take the train up to midtown. By this time, I’m ready to rip the platform managers head off.

There is much speaking between Fraud Prevention and the manager who checks my face against the picture in my passport. Once more, Fraud Prevention wants to speak with me and the litany is performed right in front of the manager. I am now able to recite the answers to all the questions without waiting to be asked. We review the transactions. They unblock the card. Is everything copacetic? I have no idea. My long-standing relationship with Wells Fargo has been marred by a form of treatment I have never experienced in over forty years of banking, and that includes a career as a financial controller/CFO.

If the employees who work in the Fraud Prevention departments are so unable to locate their backsides with both groping hands, how can we expect any kind of quality service? I understand they are trying to protect us from the baddies who lurk among the threads of the cyber world, but that shouldn’t mean the complete failure of common sense when confronted with proof positive and even worse, sending customers physically out of their way to prove their existence.