Three Strikes, I’m Out (of money and patience with our bank)

Well, as I wrote about before (see Credit Card Fraud via Email post) we have had continuing issues with our debit card.  Now, I know, and I as I have been told by multiple people from various banking institutions, it is a sad fact of modern life that credit/debit cards are used fraudulently very frequently, but it’s my debt card number that got used, again, totaling over $1700 in charges, completely wiping out our checking account and then some.

List of Sprint and Expedia Charges
List of Sprint and Expedia Charges

It appears that around 10am Central Time on Friday, June 30, three phones for Sprint (apparently activated on two separate accounts) and something from Expedia where purchased, totaling $1764.19 was gone in minutes.  Like I said, that sucks so bad that I am now having  constant upset stomach pains and every time I answer the phone from some unknown number I am having mini-anxiety attacks as I afraid to find out what else is going on.  And I know:

  • credit card numbers are sold on sites in bulk for next-to-nothing
  • always check card readers for skimmers
  • use chip-n-pin whenever possible
  • always check for the padlock on sites when using your card or transmitting any sensitive data

…and I do them all, all or most of the time, but I am still getting hit.  I now totally understand wanting to get your money in cash and putting it in your mattress because at least you know where it is and it is “safe”, apparently at least as safe as it is in a bank; which leads me to the whole point of this post – where is fraud prevention at?

Let me back up a little…  My wife and I were home discussing what to do for the Fourth of July Weekend on Friday night around 3pm.  My wife went to check our checking account to see how much fun we could afford to have and account is nearly empty.  But how, what happened this time?  She asks, did I purchase anything lately; nothing came to mind.  She then shows me the charges and all color leaves my face and I just feel ill.  We contact Associated Bank and talk to someone, not only do they confirm the charges but also that it was a my card (not my wife’s) and that my card has been cancelled prior to us calling them [remember this and I will reference it later].  We get a little more information and from their side they can see the three “Sprint*WI” is Sprint Wireless.  Yes, we do have a Sprint account with a single line but we haven’t gotten more phones as we just upgraded to the LG G6 (and have had nothing but problems with it, but that is another story) a few months prior.

We decided to call Sprint to see what they can do, big mistake.  Watch these events:

  1. Called Sprint Customer Service at 888-211-4727
    • They look at my account and tell me there are no charges on the account.  NO KIDDING!  Not the Reason I Called.  Gave Up after nearly an hour!
  2. Chatted with Sprint Customer Support online
    • They directed me to call their Fraud Dept
  3. Called Sprint Fraud Department at 888-788-0788
    • They directed me to call their Dispute Dept
  4. Called the Sprint Dispute Dept at 800-808-1336
    • They directed me to call their Finance Dept
  5. Called Sprint Finance Dept at 844-410-1601
    • There is nothing they can, they direct me to, wait for it, CUSTOMER SERVICE (see #1 in this list)

So I called Customer Service for the third time (called once before, chatted once before) and get someone that appears to be distracted and busy but trying to help.  She finally directs me to the Fraud Department but at a different number (877-877-4401).  Unfortunately, by the time I called, the department was already closed.  So, I opted to run to our closest Associated Bank branch before they close to file the paperwork to dispute the charges.  I eventually met with someone who took down my information and the only additional input she had was to tell me that I should be using credit cards instead of debit cards because at least there is no direct link to our account – true, but not that helpful right now.

In the meantime, my wife called Expedia about that charge; other than asking if we are sure the other spouse did not purchase anything, they did absolutely nothing.  🙁

I returned home, feeling broken and pissed off.  7-10 business days before we have any chance of seeing that money credited back to us.  It is coming up on the first of the month which means bills will be coming out of our account that now has no money.  Kind of puts a damper on your holiday-ish weekend.  My wife it talking with her sister and the comment is made that “Why didn’t your bank contact you?”  Good question – they cancelled my card and that’s all they did; there was no call, email or anything from them to let me know that this occurred.  Then the little light bulb went off, in this instance, in the instance noted in my other post and when someone purchased shirts with my wife’s card – in all three cases Associated cancelled our card(s) but did nothing more, they never once contacted us to let us know, well, anything; we were the ones to always start the communication.  So, getting more and more mad, I called Associated’s customer service number again and asked if there was any notation of reaching out to us or what the policy was. Per the representative that I spoke with, they did not reach out to us, though they should have, but given it was a holiday weekend, they might not have had enough people to contact me.  That’s your excuse?  Security is as time permits operation.  But, looking at the history of our account…

  • One time: maybe
  • Second time: unlikely
  • Third time: you have got to be kidding me!

After the third time of this sequence of events happening, it is not a mistake, it is a trend!

I have been a customer with Associated for 20+ years and I think it is time to look at my other options. Something is definitely broke in their process and I have had enough!  And to make it even more interesting, thinking a Credit Union because… why not!

We will be reviewing some options and finding one that suits our needs…  Time to go “bank” shopping.