Washington Mutaual / Chase / Debit Card Fraud Claim Unjustly Denied

1 United States

On May 18th, 2009 I logged into my Washington Mutual account online and discovered that $607.98 was stolen from my account. There were two unauthorized ATM withdrawals. One for $303.99 on May 16th at a 3300 Las Vegas Blvd ATM (Treasure Island Casino) and one for $303.99 on May 17th at a 3600 Las Vegas Blvd ATM (Bellagio casino). I did not make these withdrawals myself nor did I let anyone else use my debit card. I was not at these locations on either of these two days, (or at anytime in the previous year at least). I had my ATM card in my possession at all times and no one else ever knew my ATM pin.

My frustrations with Wamu’s service began immediately. On May 18th, I thoroughly searched Wamu’s website for a number to call about this situation and to cancel my card. I only found a general customer service number. There I was directed to press an option to cancel my card if it had been lost or stolen. The recording said that the department could only be reached during business hours and directed me to call the same number I had called, effectively leading me in circles with no way to cancel my card that evening.

The next day, upset with Wamu’s phone service, I went to a local Wamu branch located at 6120 W Tropicana Avenue. I found there that you can not file a fraud claim at an actual Wamu location. Why is this? Can you imagine how stressful this situation is for people and how nice it would be to talk to someone in person about it rather than an anonymous voice over the phone? Anyway, the bank employees assured me everything would be okay. That explained that I would get a temporary credit within days and that any overdraft fees I incurred for using my account before I was aware of the fraud would be taken care of. I also specifically asked if I should go to the police, they said that it should not be necessary.

So, I get the correct number for the fraud department from the bank and I explain my situation and file my claim. Again, the representative said there should be absolutely no problem. They said I should expect my credit in the next day or two and they assured me everything would be fine. Why provide such false hope? Then again, there was no recommendation to contact the police. Here exact dates get a little hazy. After a few days, with no change to my account, I contact the fraud department again to check on my status. I am told that there is no problem and to wait another day or so for the refund. This situation repeats itself in another couple of days.

Then I receive a stock letter from Wamu stating ‘you gave the person who made the transaction permission to use the debit card’. Furious, I call the fraud department again to figure out how this could be the determination. The representative explains to me that while ‘ATM thieves’ could electronically get my ATM card numbers they could not get my pin. At the time this sort of made sense to me and I accepted that response. However, I recently read an article warning Las Vegas residents about ATM ‘phishing/skimming’. So I researched the subject more and found that this was common and that the ‘thieves’ could indeed get your pin. I was also told by the rep that there weren’t other incidents being reported but an additional piece I recently read stated that in 2009 there were 75 cases reported in Las Vegas. In fact, these articles are the reason I have decided to again pursue this matter eight months later. Again, how could someone in the fraud department tell a customer that these ‘ATM bandits’ can not get your pin? Could she possibly not know better or was she just lying to me?

Since Wamu seemed to think I let another person use my ATM card I requested that they review videotapes from the ATMs or the casinos so they could see that it was not my actual ATM card being used. The rep said no problem; we’ll request video and pictures. Finally, I thought this matter would be ended. Days later with no update from Wamu I call again and am told they are still requesting video. I try to expedite the process by emailing the two casinos myself. I received a response from the head of security at the Bellagio saying that the only way they would release video is with a police subpoena. I called Wamu and told them of this and finally they said maybe I should file a police report. Why was I not told this from the start? Shouldn’t the fraud department know a subpoena was needed to obtain video?

Also, I would like to note here that on several different occasions when I called the fraud department and spoke to a representative they would have no record of the last time I called. Why were the reps not logging every contact they had with me? How could such a major banking institution have such unprofessional employees?

So on June 5th I file a police report so I can get a subpoena for the video . The officer assigned to my case calls me a few days later and explains that casinos do not still have the videotape ten days after an incident, that they erase it. Again, isn’t this information the fraud department should have known? The officer tells me that without video or unless they catch the thief with the actual fake cards in their possession there is not much more they can do for me.

At this point I felt hopeless and as if I’ve exhausted all ways to resolve the situation. Severely stressed by the circumstances I decide to put the matter aside. Then on June 29th I receive an email from Wamu stating that the phone number on my account has been changed. Of course, this makes me believe my account has hacked again and drives me into a panic. I call Wamu and I am told this is just some tactic used to get people to call in and confirm info about their account or some nonsense. Are you kidding me?! That’s an insane ploy and I can’t believe Wamu thinks that’s acceptable.

Then, In August, when not having an active bank account was becoming really bothersome I decide to try to contact Wamu again to get my case investigated again. However, I was in Canada at the time and did not want to incur long distance charges or roaming charges on my cell phone (plus I was extremely frustrated with your phone reps) so I emailed Wamu asking who the appropriate person in the fraud department would be to contact via email. I am told that customers are unable to email this department at all. How in this day and age can email not be an acceptable form of communication?

I gave up dealing with the matter again and I'm currently looking for other ways to pursue this matter.

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