Purpose / Background

I’ve been a Wells Fargo customer for 23 years and my overall experience with them as a banking institution had been relatively positive until 2017.  In September of that year an event occurred that can only be described as a conscious uncoupling between Wells Fargo and myself. This event so soured my relationship with Wells Fargo that some supposed “re-establishing” mea culpa/ad campaign is simply too little too late. Here’s what happened:

NOTE: This site serves as a permanent record of my formal request to reopen a dispute regarding fraudulent charges on my Wells Fargo issued credit card after it was denied. I’ve posted all records, conversations and communications between myself and Wells Fargo about this event here (with names and account numbers redacted) so it can serve as a public record of my personal experience dealing with the Wells Fargo Disputes Resolution Department and Wells Fargo Fraud Prevention Department as a victim of identity theft.

Event Summary:

On September 22, 2017 someone contacted Wells Fargo bank and managed to set a Personal Identification Number (PIN) on my Wells Fargo credit card using stolen identity information (likely leaked by the Target or Home Depot hack). This individual then managed to make several cash advance withdrawals using just my credit card number and the PIN.

How did this happen? Well, at the time, Wells Fargo allowed setting of new PIN codes on existing credit cards via automated phone system. All you needed was the credit card number of the card in question, the cardholders name, birthdate, and the last 4 of the card holders social security number. Using this information, anyone could set up a PIN code on someone’s credit card if one hadn’t been set up. NOTE: Wells Fargo has since made this more difficult. Especially on accounts that have been flagged for previous fraud activity.

Wells Fargo initially spotted some of the suspicious activity and sent me a text message asking about their legitimacy. I immediately responded (via text reply) indicating that they were made without my authorization.

The log below represents a detailed account of the events that transpired over the course of 54 days in September 2017 and eventually resulted in Wells Fargo crediting all fraudulent charges back to my account.

Unfortunately, I believe the reason this result finally occurred, is the direct result of me spending a huge amount of time and effort collecting evidence and documentation attempting to prove that I had not and could not have perpetrated the fraudulent transactions myself.

For a company that mentions the term “Zero Liability” in reference to fraud charges more than 100 times on their website, I feel I was treated very unfairly. Throughout the entire process, I felt like I was working with a third party outsourced call center with zero accountability to Wells Fargo customers. I never spoke to the same person twice and was unable to reach any individual to whom I had previously spoken about my case.

For those stuck in a similar situation: It’s possible that Wells Fargo would have eventually credited the fraudulent charges back to my account regardless of all my work and frustration. It’s equally possible that I would have simply had to pay $859.33 had I done nothing. That’s not the kind of service I expect from my bank and it’s not the kind of service any bank should provide.


Date 9/26/17 @ 8:26pm

The first indication something had gone wrong in my finances came via text message stating: “Please verify activity on Wells Fargo card ending in XXXX: $204.0 @ATM Transaction on 09/22/17 $204.0 @ATM Transaction on 09/26/17 If all transactions are valid reply CONFIRM. If any transactions are suspicious reply DENY, and Wells Fargo will call you. STOP VIEW to unsubscribe”

Date 9/26/17 @ 8:45pm

I replied DENY via text message.

Date 9/26/17 @ 9pm

Next came a phone call from female agent at “Wells Fargo Fraud Prevention” asking me whether I had made any cash advances at a COMPASSBANK retailer. I told her that I had not make any such charges. She then asked whether or not I was currently in possession of my card and confirmed that I was and had not let anyone borrow my card. She proceeded to ask me if I had recently called Wells Fargo to set a Personal Identification Number (PIN) on my Wells Fargo  credit card. I answered that I had never setup a PIN on that card and that I never used my Wells Fargo credit card to make any cash advance purchases. The agent then informed me that my card appeared to have been compromised and placed a “freeze” on the account blocking further charges. She also mentioned that I would need to go into a branch office to prove my identity as soon as possible to re-activate my credit card account. She assured me that I would not be responsible for charges I didn’t make on the card.

Fraudulent charges visible via online account at this point:

$10.20 Cash Advance Fee
$214.00 Total in Fraudulent Charges

Date 9/27/17 @ 4:00pm

I received postal letter dated 9/22/17 from Wells Fargo stating “Thank you for customizing your Personal Identification Number (PIN) on your credit ending in XXXX. The customized PIN only works with this card and will not work with any other card linked to this account.”

“If you did not customize your PIN, please contact us immediately by calling the phone number on the back of your card.”

Upon receipt of this letter, I immediately added security freezes for my credit accounts with all three credit reporting bureaus. I also created a report at http://identitytheft.gov and filed a police report with the local police department.

Date 9/28/17 @ 1pm

I visited a Wells Fargo branch office and spoke to a bank manager. Upon presenting copies of the PIN notification letter, drivers license and text notification, the bank manager proceeded to call the Wells Fargo Fraud Prevention Department. He handed me the the phone and I spoke to one of their agents (this time a man). I explained the letter, text and conversation with the previous agent on the evening of 9/26/17. The agent concurred that my account had likely been compromised. The agent then asked me specifically about one of the transactions from COMPASSBANK for $204.00. When asked whether I had made this charge, I confirmed that I had not. The agent said that the charge would be credited to my account soon and that since my card had been compromised it needed to be cancelled. The agent asked me to destroy my card and mentioned that I would receive a replacement within 7 business days. At this point I also mentioned to him that there was an additional posted charge on the account for $10.20 with a description of cash advance fee. I told him that I did not recognize this charge either and the agent said that it too would be credited to my account. The agent concluded the call by thanking me for being a valued customer and to rest assured that I would not be responsible for fraudulent charges.

Date 10/3/17 @ 8:31am

I noticed additional similar charges on my Wells Fargo credit card via mobile online account activity. Concerned about these charges, I contacted the Wells Fargo Fraud Prevention department again. I carefully explained my situation and the history of what had transpired since 9/26/17 to the female agent. I then told her that I noticed some additional charges from similar COMPASSBANK retailers on 9/28/17, the same day my account had been been frozen. After asking me all the same questions the agent on the 28th had asked and confirming the same answers, she proceeded to inform me that those charges could have been made before the 28th and just posted later. She assured me that I would not be responsible for fraudulent charges we proceeded to go through all additional fraudulent charges identifying each one by transaction number. During this conversation I noted that some adjustments that had been credited to my account, but that not all of them seemed to match fraudulent charges. I made the agent aware of a credited item for a Vons grocery store purchase of $10.81 which appeared to have been adjusted erroneously. I recalled the conversation at the bank branch office and told her that the agent during that call may have confused the $10.20 charge with the $10.81 charge and credited the wrong one.  She told me not to worry, that she understood “what happened,” and that she would submit the additional claims and fix the erroneous credits. I mentioned that the billing date for my credit card was coming up and that I did not want to incur any interest charges on my credit card as I always pay my balance in full. She suggested that I pay the full amount minus all fraudulent charges. She tallied up the total and asked me to specifically make a payment for an amount less than the full balance on the card which she claimed was the only amount I was responsible for. I made the online payment while on the phone with her. She again assured me everything else would be taken care of and that I was not liable for fraudulent charges on my account.


Fraudulent charges visible via online account at this point:

($204.00) Adjustment Cash Advances

$10.20 Cash Advance Fee
$10.20 Cash Advance Fee
($10.81) Adjustment Purchases
$417.59 Total in Fraudulent Charges

Date 10/6/17 @ 10:54am

I received a new credit card in the mail and activated it via telephone. Subsequently via my Wells Fargo online account, I noticed that my old account had been removed from view and a new account had been opened with a different account number. The new account showed a balance transfer with the full balance of my old account and the history of my old account activity. I found that none of the additional charges had been credited yet. Yet the Vons charge for $10.81 now showed as debited, credited and debited again presumably representing the correction of their mistake.

Date 10/10/17 @ 4pm

Received letter from Wells Fargo stating: “Thank you for notifying us that the previously disputed transactions totaling $418.81 were valid and authorized by you.” I dispute this claim and never made such statements to anyone. As noted in the previous call, I did notify the agent on the call on 10/6/17 that a charge at a Vons grocery store for $10.81 was valid and authorized. At no point, however, did I make the claim that the total for valid charges was $418.81. In fact, I very meticulously went through each transaction with her referencing each fraudulent and valid charge by transaction id. In retrospect, it looks like the agent mistakenly combined the valid Vons charge with two of the fraudulent charges for $204.00 as a valid charge which is not correct. On the same day I also received an email stating “We’re making progress on your dispute” from the Wells Fargo dispute resolution department.

Date 10/10/17 @ 7:53pm

Contacted Wells Fargo Claims department about the letter and seemingly conflicting email I received (above). Spoke with a male agent and mentioned that the letter I received on 10/10/17 dated 10/5/17 was erroneous. I proceeded to again carefully explain my situation and the history of what had transpired since 9/26/17. I told him that now I was seeing a total of 4 fraudulent charges for $204.00 each, one adjustment for $204.00 and 4 matching cash advance fee charges. We identified each charge by transaction ID and the agent noted that some charges had already been submitted as fraud claims. He said he would submit the remaining charges and assured me that they would clear up the mishap. At this point I was relatively upset about the additional charges and the letter. He assured me that everything would be fine, that I would not be liable for charges I didn’t make and that I would see all the fraudulent charges credited to my account soon.

($204.00) Adjustment Cash Advances
$10.20 Cash Advance Fee
$10.20 Cash Advance Fee
($10.81) Adjustment Purchases

Date 10/13/17 @ 9:05am

Checked Wells Fargo credit card statement which confirmed a total of 4 COMPASSBANK fraudulent charges for $204.00 and one adjustment (credit) for $204.00.

Date 10/17/17 @ 1:21pm

Contacted Wells Fargo Claims department referencing my case details and asked for an update on my claim. The male agent put me on hold for 2 minutes and when he returned, informed me that my claim had been denied. Upon my inquiry as to why the claim had been denied the agent told me that it was denied because I had contacted Wells Fargo to set a PIN on my card. I told the agent that I had not set such a PIN and to please check his records because I had already told this to another agent that when they originally asked me about he PIN on 9/26/17. The agent informed me that once a claim had been denied, the only way to reopen the claim would be by fax supporting documentation to their fax line. He said there would be nothing further he could do for me on this claim. He proceeded to give me the Fraud Resolution/Claims department fax number 925-686-7868 and then asked me if he could assist me with anything else. I asked about a reference number, ticket number or any other information to serve as a record of our conversation and he could not provide this information. At this point I terminated the call and was fuming.

Later that evening I received the following letter confirming that my dispute had been rejected and my claim denied.

Date 10/18/17 @ 3pm

I made another branch office appointment and faxed all supporting documentation along with a letter detailing my efforts and dissatisfaction thus far to 925-686-7868 from the branch office. I did this in the hopes this action would reopen my dispute. So far, however, I haven’t heard anything from the Wells Fargo Dispute Resolution department.

Date 10/23/17 @ 10:34am

Contacted Wells Fargo Dispute Resolution department and asked for an update on my claim. Was told that my documentation (faxed on 10/18/17) had been received on 10/19/17 and that my claim was currently pending review. The agent also told me that this process may take 30-45 business days. She mentioned that I am free to contact Wells Fargo Dispute Resolution at any time before that period to check for updates on my claim.

Date 10/26/17 @ 11:14am

Checked account balance on Wells Fargo credit card via online account and found a $450.35 credit issued by Wells Fargo on 10/26/17. The credit is comprised of some credits matching charges disputed and some credits I cannot explain. There appear to be two more credits for $204.00 which now only leaves one outstanding charge for that amount. There also appear to be three credits for $10.20 which brings the total to $40.80 matching all of the cash advance charges for fraudulent charges. Then there are credits for $2.25+$0.28=$2.53 which I assume is a credit for the interest charge on the disputed cash advances. Finally there’s a credit for $9.22 which does not match any disputed charges I’m aware of.

10/30/17 @ 5:17pm

Received postal letter dated 10/23/17 from Wells Fargo stating that as I requested they are continuing to research possible unauthorized use of my credit card account. It also says that I should expect written results of this research within 45 Calendar days.

11/1/17 @ 5:02pm

Received postal letter dated October 26 from Wells Fargo stating that they completed researching unauthorized charges on my credit card account and have found that one of the charges was made without my permission. It says that $408.00 was credited to the account plus all applicable finance charges.

11/6/17 @ 10:31pm

Noticed that Wells Fargo posted another credit of $204.00 bringing my total after all is set and done to a credit of $9.22. Not sure of all the reasoning behind the different credits and delays and I don’t have the energy to inquire about them at this stage. I’d like to think that my detailed accounting on this website and my complaints to Wells Fargo had something to do with it. I hope this helps someone else.


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