Account compromise nightmare

Paul writes:

“Paul ——-
Norcross, GA

Copy (at conclusion, assuming that there is one): Kerry Killinger, Stephen Rotella, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Clark Howard,,, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (formal complaint), US Congressman John Linder, others TBD.

Reader’s Digest version: WAMU has allowed a criminal to loot my account ($9,000 was stolen). They NEVER directly informed me of it, blocked access to my account such that I actually remained UNAWARE of the theft, and have dragged their corporate feet every inch of the way toward any conceivable path to resolution. As a crime VICTIM I have been further and repeatedly VICTIMIZED by Washington Mutual. On the bright side, WAMU has seemingly raised the art of incompetence to new heights.

The following was originally prepared as a set of notes, as a method for laying the groundwork for a lawsuit against Washington Mutual, should I be forced into it via the ongoing events noted herein. During an exchange with an apologetic corporate level WAMU employee it was noted that the company focus is “strictly upon the dollars.” What has been missed here is that in being so intent upon the smaller piles of money a vastly larger bale of cash remains in dire jeopardy. In short, my wife is a “recovering attorney” (former DOD boss Dick Cheney labeled her “The Chainsaw Lawyer”) that is poised and ready in the wings to give WAMU a thorough financial high colonic. I am their customer, and I deserve better!

I realize that everyone’s time is valuable, but so is mine, and lately I have spent a great deal of it in my dealings with Washington Mutual. In any case, for your convenience, I have highlighted the significant points regarding my continuing nightmare in the following.

Notes / Timeline

Risk Operations 866-513-9186
Customer No-Service 800-788-7000

8/15 Background: After work I returned home to find a PIN for a new Bank of America checking account debit card in the mail. I immediately called the phone number on the letter in an effort to determine what was going on. Many specific questions were asked about my having ever lived in northern California, knowing anyone there, etc. (I responded NO to all). They were reluctant to provide any information, but it was said that someone had given my name and correct SSN plus his (probably bogus) information (his name was mentioned but I did not recognize or catch it) to open the account on-line on 8/13. I was told that the account had zero balance, I insisted that they close the account immediately, and I was told that this would be done. During the conversation a local Georgia phone number was given from the account setup (770-446-4652) – I tried it and found that it was disconnected.

Note that on 8/18 I received Bank of America VISA debit card 4217-XXXX-XXXX-5317, presumably not active.

Note that before this unfolded I had already frozen my credit with the “big three” reporting agencies.

8/19 I received a phone call from WAMU (per Caller ID), but was disconnected almost immediately. They made no attempt to call back, so I then tried to log in on-line, to discover that a freeze had been put on my account.

I called Risk Operations as directed and was specifically told that the freeze had been put on due to a login attempt from an ISP in Louisiana (not my usual BellSouth provider). This sounded most impressive and was greatly reassuring. I was told that my accounts were fine and that the freeze was merely precautionary, but that I would need to open a new checking account ASAP. I asked what the source of the attempt might have been and how to avoid another problem in the future. I was told that almost certainly it was a keylogger or something similar – we briefly reviewed my religious use of Symantec/Norton, Spybot Search and Destroy, Ad-Aware, Spyware Blaster, and Ccleaner. Nothing has ever been found amiss.

I immediately went to our local branch, opened a new checking account, and was told by both Risk Operations over the phone and the WAMU Assistant Manager (the latter exchange was witnessed by my spouse) that my money market account was “OK – no problem.”

Misc. The next day I wrestled with the setting up of my direct payroll deposit into the new checking account.

Over the next few days I made several unsuccessful attempts to regain access to my on-line account. The normal customer service phone line was all but useless (I could rarely find a human to speak with), e-mail is even less useful (never answered), and it was later discovered (as the weekend arrived) that only Risk Operations could grant me account access, but they are “CLOSED” on weekends.

08/25 I tried unsuccessfully several times during the day to contact Risk Operations, including spending my entire lunch hour on hold, waiting for the “five minutes” on the message to pass.

I went home after work and received a letter from WAMU dated 8/19 noting that BOTH my checking and money market accounts had been compromised and would be automatically closed on September 2.

I again called Risk Operations for some information (I still could not access my account on-line). I finally got through, and was told that I would need to answer some “background questions” first. I could not recall in what county an address that I had lived in some 30 years earlier was, and thus I was told that they could not help and that I would have to go to my branch and have them call on my behalf. Presumably the questions were not so difficult for the invader of my on-line account.

I went back to our local branch – the manager was not available, nor particularly interested. I offered to close my accounts and leave, and at that point the assistant manager helped. I happened to catch sight of his computer screen that showed my money market balance, and I loudly expressed my surprise.

I was finally given a printout showing the criminal activity that had taken place – this is the first that I had been aware of the theft that had occurred TEN DAYS earlier (I still had no access to my own account on-line). My money had apparently been moved into a Bank of America account, methodically and deliberately done, with two “trial runs” made to verify the account, all with no questions asked by WAMU, and zero information voluntarily given to me about it afterward. I can only assume that this was an intentional concealment of a felony.

Unauthorized electronic transfers in and out of my money market account:

8/12 Trial credit $0.26
8/12 Trial credit $0.61
8/15 Transfer $9,000

I was again put on the phone with Risk Operations at the branch, and was told there was nothing they could do except to start an investigation, and that a provisional credit of the lost funds would be made to my account in 5 to 7 working days. I was told that there was no one else that I could speak with further regarding the matter, period. I was also told that on-line access to my NEW checking account would be restored.

I returned home, called around the corporate office switchboard and found the Registered Agent service delivery information below (certified mail was suggested). Their legal department seemed surprised by the blatant WAMU incompetence that I described.

Washington Mutual Bank
1301 Second Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101

I also called the “Executive Response” group at the corporate office – the investigation time was cut from 5 to 7 days to two days by the person noted below. I clearly expressed my reluctant willingness to sue, but only as a last resort, which is still fast approaching.

206-461-2000 – ask for Executive Response
Ext. 483 Jeannie

The proverbial barn door had already been left open, a criminal had been given free access to steal from me, and little to no information or assistance has been willingly provided by WAMU throughout the ordeal. As the initial dust was just settling (the evening of 8/25) I received a new password for my money market account via e-mail. I assumed this meant that the freeze had been removed from the account, thus opening the remainder of my money market for additional exposure to theft. I called Risk Operations again and they said that my money market was indeed still frozen. This was the FIRST contact with competence that I had experienced in my dozen or so attempts with WAMU – blessed angel Employee 976954. She thoroughly explained what needed to be done and what would happen next (namely, an eventual refund – no one had said that yet), after a week of my being kept totally in the dark.

8/26 I returned to my local branch to move the remaining money market funds into a new account. I had not yet been advised to do this, but it seemed like a good idea, and a call from the branch to Risk Operations confirmed this. The latter was made aware that I would like on-line access to BOTH of my NEW accounts and I was told “no problem” – I would be contacted. That contact never came.

8/27 On advice of legal counsel, I filed a report regarding the theft with the Gwinnett County, Georgia Police Department – Case Number 08-088203 was assigned. I had initially contacted an officer friend in the GCPD regarding how this needed to be done, and he noted that WAMU has become locally well known as an easy target due to their apparent weak security.

I did not receive the call promised from Executive Response, so I called and left a message at extension 483. Over an hour later I called again, selecting the “new topic – speak to a manager” option, and Jeannie immediately answered. I asked about the “Affidavit Package” that the police had just mentioned, and I was told that it had been mailed from Florida on 8/26 – that was the first that I had heard of it from WAMU. She said that I should complete the package and take it to the branch for faxing (206-965-3701) and the stolen funds would be credited immediately.

I called Risk Operations, again asking for on-line access to my new accounts. I was forwarded to someone in a different area called “e-fraud” and after a considerable delay I was refused. I was essentially told that none of my previous conversations while standing in my local branch (including two that were witnessed by my attorney) had ever happened. Absolutely incredible.

I called Executive Response again, noting that while criminals obviously had no problem in accessing my accounts, that I, THE CUSTOMER, STILL COULD NOT. I was told that this would be straightened out by the next day, and that I would be contacted.

8/28 The call from Executive Response did not come as was promised – imagine my surprise. I attempted to call at the close of business but was too late – the switchboard had been shut down for the day and there was no apparent way to leave messages. I instead sent a fax to the number I had been given, attention Jeannie, basically recognizing that I had again been lied to but that I was “still waiting”.

8/29 DAY 10 (14 days since the theft) – still no $9,000, still no access to my own NEW accounts, and still no hint of any voluntary assistance from WAMU.

Called Executive Response again, selecting the “new topic – speak to a manager” option. I explained the situation and expressed my preference to speak with anyone else but the original manager, but was forwarded back to that one anyway. When asked directly she offered no explanation of her failure to fulfill promises to return calls, etc., and attempted to set up a conference call with a security manager to get my on-line access set up. She could not locate anyone, so I left my office number and hoped for the best. Eventually I received a call (Evelyn), jumped through the security hoops and was told that I was good to go on-line.

Evelyn noted that I’d need to fill out an ACH withdrawal fraud claim, about which I was completely clueless. I was forwarded to Chris (female), who in turn checked with an investigator, who said I was good to go as soon as the “Affidavit Package” was returned to them.

8/30 Received Affidavit in the mail.

8/31 Filled out and faxed Affidavit to BOTH the Executive Response AND “ACH Department” fax numbers.

I logged on-line for the first time since I was locked out on 8/19, with my new User ID and temporary password, and immediately changed the latter. Two problems were immediately apparent – my account said “Last login 8/24” and showed my old checking account as still open, active, and nicely funded. As learned previously, support is nonexistent on weekends, so I used WAMU’s “secured” on-line “send us a message” utility. I’m not holding my breath.

I have just heard back from on-line customer no-support. Indeed, my old checking account is still alive and well, and I could theoretically “steal” the funds back out of it, as the money has already been credited to my new checking account. They appear to have no clue about the login date. This is one incredibly inept organization. “

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