Wells Fargo debit card customers frustrated over fraudulent Amazon charges

Fraud charges on Wells Fargo debit cards
Published: Jun. 20, 2018 at 9:59 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2018 at 6:57 PM EDT
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(WWBT) - Dozens of Wells Fargo customers in the Richmond area are frustrated over unauthorized Amazon Prime charges on their debit cards despite having never signed up for the service.

Tom Cook, a spokesman for Amazon, said the company is aware of the situation, but urged customers to contact Wells Fargo.

"If there continue to be unauthorized purchases for Amazon Prime, then please contact us," Cook said.

In an NBC12 Facebook video, more than 200 people commented saying they were affected or knew of someone who was.

Victims have said the false charges surfaced over the last few months at around $14 per charge.

Isabel Happoldt said she's been falsely charged more than 90 times since April. Those charges spanned four debit cards. Each false charge was listed as an "Amazon Prime" membership fee, which she doesn't have.

"I noticed there was a charge for Amazon Prime, and I'm not a Prime member," said Happoldt.

Happoldt immediately called Wells Fargo. She said a representative told her the bank was aware of the scam, responding "that has been happening a lot."

"It's worrisome just because I don't know how this information is getting there," said Peyton, another customer who experienced the fraud. "I'm on my fifth card in four months."

Peyton said he started to see the charges in March.

"The first charge came from Germany and then the second one came from Canada," he said. "After that charge happened I was a little bit more concerned."

Peyton, Happoldt and another man, Jason Hardison, contacted Wells Fargo which sent them new debit cards, but they claim the Prime charges continued on those brand new cards.

Happoldt said the fake charges were immediately declined, but she's has gone through four cards to date, with each still getting hit with the unauthorized charge.

Eventually Peyton and Hardison contacted Amazon's fraud department through customer service.

"They looked [the card] up in the system and said yup, 20 days before you received your card, this was already attached to another account," Peyton said.

"The guy looked up the actual card and noticed there were nine accounts associated with the card," Hardison said.

Wells Fargo spokeswoman, Kristy Marshall, said because of the ongoing investigation they are not able to release how many customers have been affected. The banking institution also cannot discuss the fraud situation in detail for security reasons.

Thursday Marshall said any transaction attempts on closed debit cards will be declined, and those who sign up to get debit card alerts will be notified, however the institution is taking steps to ensure customers only receive the "card declines alert" for transactions on their open debit card.

Peyton has gotten dozens of alerts over the last few months, and is thinking about changing banks.

"I've started already looking at other options and thinking about other banks that I can go to," Peyton said.

Marshall said this is a fraud situation, and not a data breach; no customer accounts were compromised pertaining to routing and banking numbers.

"We are working directly with any Wells Fargo customers who were impacted," she added.

If you think you're a victim of this hack, contact Wells Fargo immediately at 1-800-TO-WELLS (small business customers: 1-800-CALL-WELLS). Wells Fargo also has more information about fraud scams on its website.

Other tips to prevent this from happening, and securing your account include:

  • Reporting any fraudulent charges to your bank, and the merchant where the charges happened
  • Change your banking passwords often
  • Check your bank account two to three times per week
  • Contact your bank to have them stop or block “pass-through” charges

"Say if you have Verizon autopay, instead of interrupting service, they just pass it along to the next card," Hardison said. "Whereas if you say 'stop pass through charges', they will stop it and when they issue you a new card you'll have to go to all your accounts you have it linked to for autopay and redo it."

Hardison said it can be a pain to do, but since he made the request, he has yet to have issues with his new debit cards.

Marshall said that Wells Fargo card customers are covered by "Zero Liability protection" and those who are affected by any type of fraud are fully reimbursed for unauthorized card transactions.

"We apologize for any confusion with the alert, and we regret any inconvenience impacted customers have experienced," Marshall said.

It's unknown whether this fraud situation is isolated to the state of Virginia, or nation-wide. Several people have reported issues in North Carolina and Kentucky.

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