Woodforest Bank / identity theft
I opened a small account at Woodforest, inside a Wallmart for the convenience of not having to go from my farm into town to get small amounts of money. I also opened a saving account because when I asked if there was overdraft protection available, I was told there was not.
On the 10th of October, 2008, I was the victim of an identity theft. My car, two bank cards, three credit cards, my license, social security card and some personal items were all taken. I got a call from Citibank early warning fraud that someone was attempting to use my card. I immediated contacted all institutions holding accounts that were missing, including Woodforest. I put a freeze on all three credit agencies and went about collecting police reports and other pertintant information.
I recieved communication from GE Money Bank and Citibank stating that after reviewing the informatin provided that this was a clear indentity theft, that charges made fraudulently were being removed and that cards would be replaced.
Woodforest, by far was the most confused and difficult institution to deal with, despite being the first informed of the theft on the morning of Oct. 11. The person who stole my identity had been stealing from me for a few weeks and seeing I was ill with the flu had asked on the 9th, for my pin number. I told him I did not know why he would need it since I had no intention of giving him the bank card. However as I was really ill, I had asked him to pick up a few things, soup, throat lozenges and vicks vapor rub, and not having cash I gave him a check for $30.00 to pay for these items.
At that point I was hoping he wuld take the money and leave, but he returned saying that his license was expired, the bank would not cash the check on an expired license as identification and I had to give him my debit card. I said no, and when press, gave him the wrong pin number.
When I fell asleep, he stole the card from my wallet, went to the bank in my car and after two tries using the wrong pin, returned again. This time he told me I had to go with him to the bank and change my pin. I was sick, frightened and exhausted. I went with him, tried to ask an employee to watch that he did not see me enter the pin, did so and returned to bed. Later that night, my safe was broken into and the above mentioned items stolen.
At first Woodforest said I would not be liable for the theft. I submitted fraud claims at the bank, heard nothing for over a month, when I got a call saying that there was a tape showing that this person was behind me when I entered the pin and therefore had permission to use the card. I responded that I had police reports to the contrary and that I had done everything possible to avoid this person getting access to any personal information. I was told to submit all police reports (2) and a statement, which I did. Apparently these documents were sent to the wrong department, the department that handles accounts that were opened fraudulently. It took six weeks to identify the problem and have the documents sent to the department they had been requested from.
Onb January 1, 2009, I recieved a call from Woodforest in Texas, stating that as the person in question was by my side when I entered the pin, this was not an identity theft. I asked if they had recieved the information that they had requested and was told that she had just recieved it and was reviewing it and would call me back.
After a week of no response, I called Texas, and asked what was going on. I also mentioned that I would like to see the tape that had this person first behind me and later at my side, but was told the tape no longer existed.
I began speaking again with the branch and said I would pay what had been stolen from them in order to end the matter and close the account which was still accumulating daily fees. When I went in the on duty manager added up all of the transaction made after the 9th when I changed the pin and deposited $50.00. The result was $480.00.
I told the manager that I did not feel that I owed the bank what was stolen from me and would only pay what had been taken from the bank. She said I had to come in when a different manager was on duty. I spent days going back over day to day transactions and came up with the figure of $247.50 that had been taken from the bank.
A week later on Thursday, I recieved a call from the branch stating that I needed to come in and resolve the situation. I agreed, but on my way my burglar alarm went off and I had to turn around. The following day was a typical farm day and I was too busy to go into the branch. I called and asked when the correct manager would be there and was told Monday. When I went in on Monday, the account had been charged off. I was told I recieved a call saying this was about to happen, but all I had been told was that I needed to come in and speak to the correct manager to reslove the situation.
The "correct" manager came up with the same $247.50 figure that I had come up with, but told me that the regional manager had said that only half of the fees could be taken off which meant I owed close to the same amount the incorrect manager demonstrated had been stolen from me and the bank. I had never met this regional manager, Steve Fischer, met him, nor heard his name mentioned. I said I would like to speak with him and was told that he was there on an irregular basis and that I would have to come in at his convienence. I asked them to call me when he came in and no one ever did.
Two days later, I was contacted by a collection agency who apparantly had bought the debt for less than I offered to pay to end the situation.
At this point I have placed a complaint with the OCC and with the state banking commissioner. Before sending in all required documention to the collectin agency I once again called Texas and was told that Mr. Fisher would call me as soon as possible. As of now, I have heard nothing.
This bank should have their license repealed and should be closed. I never gave permission to sell the debt ( I read the fine print) and had told the "right manager" that it would take a few weeks, but that I would pay the extorted amount to avoid the damage to my credit, but would continue to fight so that such extortion would not be permitted to continue.
The fact that the debt was sold (which is not legal) the day after it was written off shows the lack of communicatin between the brances and the home office which was apparent through this entire ordeal.
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