Back in 2000, I opened a First Union account in Georgia. Â First Union was a great little bank with excellent customer service, and I never had a problem with them. Â Then, First Union was purchased by Wachovia. Â I had a few issues with Wachovia, but they were minimal. Â Then, after the financial sector collapse, Wachovia was purchased by Wells Fargo.
At this news, I contemplated switching banks, but it seemed like more trouble than it would be worth. Â I try to do most of my banking with ING, but they’ve since been bought by CapitalOne, so I’m sure they’ll be headed downhill soon, and Joanna’s gets paid in paper checks, so it’s convenient to have a real bank nearby.
Today I discovered a dozen fraudulent charges on my Wells Fargo account. Â Thanks to detailed reporting, I can tell that these are debit card transactions, mostly to Singapore-based company that sells pre-paid phone minutes. Â I suspect that these minutes can be converted into cash and/or easily transferred.
This happens all the time, but the interesting thing is this: I have never, not even once, used this debit card. Â It is still in my possession. Â This means it was undoubtedly compromised in some way internal to Wells Fargo. Â They, of course, insist there are “lots of ways” that my card could be stolen, but not if I’ve never used it. Â This sort of incompetence by Wells Fargo is astounding to me.
My solution for the moment has been to disallow them from issuing me a new debit Â card. Â I have no use for one anyway. Â I never use it for precisely this reason: should it be compromised, I’m out of the money until Wells Fargo decides to give it back to me. Â Unlike a credit card where I can simply refuse to pay them.
Instead, I managed to convince them to issue me an ATM-only card. Â It’s far from foolproof, but there’s no reason to authorize debit card transactions I never use, and an ATM-only card could not have been used in this manner. Â Sure, ATM cards can be skimmed and cloned, but I suspect ATM fraud occurs a lot less frequently than debit card fraud.