If you have a joint Wells Fargo account with anyone - your spouse, a daughter, a son, a parent - and the employer of that spouse, daughter, parent, etc. gets into debt - not your spouse, daughter, etc., but the employer of that person - Wells Fargo will come after YOU - or, at least, turn your information over to a third party debt collection agency, to use you as a way to get to the debt holder.
Think it can't happen? It's happening to me!:
On July 29, 2011, at 2:21 p.m., I received a call on my private cell phone number from a person identifying himself as from Wells Fargo Bank, from the phone number 503 403 2695. He asked to speak to a person, by name, that is not me. The person? My husband's boss. Let's call my husband's boss Victor Voss (not his real name).
I was quite surprised. I do not work for Victor Voss nor the company Victor Voss owns. I have no affiliation with Victor Voss whatsoever. Also, the person was calling on my private cell phone number - a number Victor Voss, my husband's boss, does NOT have. Why would someone from Wells Fargo be calling *my* private number to ask to speak to my husband's employer?
I explained to the caller that Victor Voss was my husband's boss and that I am not employed by his company. I asked how this Wells Fargo representative got my phone number. The caller asked, again, for "Victor Voss of CITY_NAME_REDACTED." I repeated myself. He said that he was calling all numbers associated with the Victor Voss Wells Fargo account in question, using information provided by Wells Fargo. He said he would correct the problem, remove my number, and apologized.
I received a call from this same number - 503 403 2695 at 8:06 on July 30, but missed the call. At 2:21 p.m., I got a call again from this 503 403 2695 number, this time from someone different than who had called on July 29. He said he was calling from Wells Fargo Bank and he asked to speak with Victor Voss. I said this is not the number for Victor Voss, that Victor Voss is my husband's boss, and I demanded to know how he got my private number. He said, "I want to speak to Victor Voss. Of CITY_NAME_REDACTED. Is he there?" I also asked the caller for his name. He said, "I told you my name," laughed, and hung up the phone.
I called Wells Fargo customer service immediately to ask why my phone number was being associated with another Wells Fargo customer, someone I have NO affiliation with whatsoever. I was put on hold for about 15 minutes, and the person - Ryan, of Boise Premier Phone Bank - said he could find no number at Wells Fargo for me to call to report this problem, and suggested I try again on Monday.
I then did a great deal of research online, and here is what I have found:
The company calling me from 503 403 2695 is a third party collection agency that works specifically on Wells Fargo accounts. The company is
United Credit Recovery
On Monday, beginning at 7 a.m. my time (Portland, Oregon), I called Wells Fargo customer service. I told my story again and again, as I was transferred again and again:
- The first Wells Fargo representative denied that what I was saying could have actually happened. She said it was "impossible." After trying to explain to her that, indeed, it happened, it's why I was calling, she transferred me. I was on hold for several minutes.
- The second Wells Fargo representative said it wasn't an issue her department could deal with, and transferred me again. I was on hold for several minutes.
- The third Wells Fargo representative listened to my story, put me on hold, came back and said, indeed, 503 403 2695 is from a number of a company "affiliated with Wells Fargo", and she transferred me to that number, after explaining to the company *herself* that my number needed to be removed from the account. But she didn't stay on the line during the entire conversation with this company, and when I asked how the company had my number, the company representative hung up on me.
- I called Wells Fargo again. The fourth Wells Fargo representative I talked to said she was appalled that this had happened, that it was clearly information Wells Fargo had provided, by mistake, and that I had every reason to be upset. She was the only Wells Fargo representative who acknowledged this error by Wells Fargo and acknowledged that I had every right to be upset. She said she was in the Wells Fargo department for home loan and mortgage, and could not see my phone number associated with Victor Voss' accounts in that department, and also said there was no debt collection activities being taken against Victor Voss per any home loan or mortgage. She said that it must be from Victor Voss' checking or savings account, and that someone in that department could look up the information and see how and when my phone number was associated with Victor Voss' accounts. She said she would transfer me to "absolutely the correct department", 1-800-869-3557, and she added, "don't let them transfer you! They have the ability to find out how your information was associated with this account."
- Of course, I was cut off after she transferred me - the representative could not hear me over the hold music that was still playing (why was there hold music playing? I don't know). So I called 1-800-869-3557 directly. The fifth Wells Fargo representative said, after hearing my story, "I can't help you, I don't have access to any information that would tell me this." I asked to speak to a supervisor.
- The sixth Wells Fargo representative I talked to refused to believe anything I was saying. She kept repeating, "Victor Voss MUST have given us your number." This despite Victor Voss NOT having my private cell phone number. Then she said, "Your husband must have given Victor Voss the number for some reason." My husband has never given my private number to his boss - why would he?! She then said, "Well, he must have typed in a number incorrectly and, by coincidence, it just happened to be yours. That must be what happened." When I tried to say, no, that was clearly not what happened, she began talking over me, saying, "I'm trying to help you, but you won't let me. I have explained how this happened. You are not listening." Finally, I got her to answer a series of questions, and in her answers, she said:
- she would not, under any circumstances, investigate what numbers have been associated with Victor Voss' account,
- she would not, under any circumstances, check to see if my phone number was ever listed as a contact for Victor Voss', and
- she would not, under any circumstances, check to see if, when Victor Voss' information was transferred to the collection agency, Wells Fargo ALSO gave the names of people also with access to the account (my husband), as well as any joint account holders with my husband (me).
She said no investigation would take place on any of these three points. I demanded to speak with her supervisor. She at first said her supervisor was unavailable. I said I was not going anywhere, I needed to speak with someone. She said there was no one to help me. I repeated I was not going anywhere, that she was going to transfer me to her supervisor, and I would wait all day for that to happen.
By now, I had been on the phone for 90 minutes.
She put me on hold, and came back and said, "Miss Page, I'm going to transfer you." I said, "I'm not Miss Page. I'm Ms. Name_Redacted." She said, "Oh, sorry, Miss Page is whose information I have on my screen right now." She didn't have MY information up - the person with whom she was speaking? Anyway, she transferred me, and:
This seventh and last Wells Fargo representative said I had to write a letter explaining this situation to the following address.
Wells Fargo Bank
PO Box 5058
Portland, OR 97208
And that's what I just did. Followed by visiting OnPoint Credit Union where, in the coming days, all of both my husband and my accounts - checking savings, retirement, investments - will be transferred. I will be closing my Wells Fargo account at my earliest opportunity to do so.
Why couldn't I have been given this address on the very first phone call I made? Only Wells Fargo can say.
Wells Fargo provided my phone number to a bill collector for bills that are not mine, simply because that the debtor is a Wells Fargo Bank account holder and because my husband works for the person that holds that account - and because my husband also does his personal banking at Wells Fargo. Are you next?
Is it legal for Wells Fargo to give account holder information to debt collection companies that are NOT pursuing debt collections against that account holder? I'll be researching that later today (via the Oregon State's Attorney General's office).
UPDATES (since this original blog was written)
Update for August 4, 2011
Ofcourse I tweeted about what's happening. A couple of days later, Wells Fargo asks me to follow their Twitter Ask_WellsFargo feed for updates. WHAT?! My response, on Twitter, to them and shared on my feed for all my followers:
@Ask_WellsFargo asks me 2 follow them to get updates on my complaint. NO! I deserve direct email or a phone call! #fail
With a link to the blog you are reading now, of course!
Then today, I get a phone call from "Georgie" at Wells Fargo. She calls me on my private number - the one the debt collection agency used, the one I've now removed from Wells Fargo, so they won't contact me on it anymore. Sigh. She may have gotten it from a colleague - a friend of mine who works at Wells Fargo, who I asked to investigate this - he had asked me for the number, so he could check to see when it was given to the debt collection agency.
"Georgie" says, in response to my question about of an investigation as to if my number was ever on Victor Voss's account - which would boost the Wells Fargo theory that Victor Voss put my number into the Wells Fargo system as attached to his account - "there are hundreds of people called Victor Voss, and we cannot go through all of those." I reply, "There are hundreds of people named Victor Voss in CITY_REDACTED?" She pauses, and then changes the subject: she says that my number cannot be found in the system - the number she is now calling me on. I respond, "That's right, it can't be found in your system because, on Monday, when I realized what was happening, I removed it from the Wells Fargo system so that it could NEVER be used by you again - as you are using it now, so, obviously, that didn't work." She becomes angry. "I am trying to help you. I am assuring you that your number cannot be found in the system." I say, again, yes, that's because I have taken it out of the system, myself, on MONDAY - and that I'm tired of Wells Fargo people calling me to assure me the number is out of the system when that is not the issue anymore!
I tell her, again, that she needs to look at Victor Voss information, not just what is there currently, but what has been there previously, and find out if my phone number has ever been associated with his account. And her reply? Oh, you will love this, dear readers: "I have looked at his account, and your number is not associated with it, and has never been associated with it."
Check. Mate. Match.
Not only did she just admit that she HAD looked at his account information (contrary to what she had claimed in the opening of the call), but also, that my phone number was NOT a part of that account. That it had NEVER been a part of the account!
And guess what that means? That means the debt collection agency was telling the truth when they said they got the number from Wells Fargo, and that means I was right - Wells Fargo went through joint accounts held by Victor Voss, took the cell phone info from such, and then went through the joint account of THOSE people as well, and took the cell phone info from such - MY CELL PHONE INFO - and gave it to this debt collection company! "Georgie" just proved that that's how it happened!
I pointed this out. Her reply, "You are a very angry person. I can't deal with you."
Let me be clear on one point. Yes, I have been angry. But I have never:
- yelled. I have raised my voice, but I have never yelled.
- been abusive or insulting.
Yes, I have been angry. And I have EVERY right to be. Not only has my credit rating been compromised because of the actions of Wells Fargo, I have had to tell the same story again and again. This is the third time a Wells Fargo representative has called to cheerfully tell me my phone number has been removed from the debt collection agency. The third time. Never mind that that is NOT THE ISSUE.
I have every right to be angry.
Wells Fargo - it's time for someone to call me AT THE NUMBER IN YOUR SYSTEM and say this:
Ma'am, we are so sorry that this has happened. You have every right to be angry. You have every right to have lost your patience. I have read everything you have written on this subject. I am not going to ask me to follow us on Twitter in order to get a response, I am not going to be the fourth person to tell you that your number has been removed from this debt company, and I am not going to tell you one minute that I can't look at an account and, a couple of minutes later, tell you I have, indeed, looked at that account. I am not going to tell you it couldn't have happened because, obviously, it did. I am going to be honest. I am going to be truthful.
I am going to review our procedures and find out on what date information for Victor Voss's account was given to this debt collection agency from Wells Fargo, and I am going to find out exactly what information was given to this debt collection agency from Wells Fargo. I am going to view this information myself - not be told about it by anyone else, but look at the data myself, on paper or on computer. And if your number is in that information, it means, no question, the debt collection company is not lying and your conclusion is correct: Wells Fargo provided that number, and that was wrong, and we apologize. If we find the number was NOT in that information, we are going to ask this debt collection agency - which we contract with - the date and time this information was given to them by Victor Voss, and we will call you with this information.
Either way, we have handled this entire situation poorly. Of course you are upset. You have every right to be. Not only has your information been compromised, but every Wells Fargo person seems to have told you something different. That you have had to talk to so many representatives just to get this call from me is embarrassing. Again, I am so sorry.
That's what Wells Fargo should say to me the next time they call. If they aren't going to say this to me - in fact, if they aren't going to call me and read those paragraphs to me, verbatim, I don't want to ever hear from Wells Fargo again - except in reply to the complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice I just mailed off.
One more thing - if my theory is correct about what Wells Fargo did, then why hasn't my husband, a joint account holder with his boss, received phone calls on his cell phone from the debt collection agency? For two reasons: one cell phone number was typed in incorrectly by my husband; he didn't realize it until he looked up his account when this whole debacle started. The other cell phone number is his company cell phone, which was discontinued months ago due to lack of payment by Victor Voss. I'm sure the debt collection company had those numbers as well, but they were useless.
Onpoint Credit Union called me today to set up an appointment to transfer my retirement accounts. They were soooo nice....
September 6 update: Got a letter today from Wells Fargo. It never apologizes for releasing my information, it never says if it is investigating. It again assures me that their collection agency won't call me anymore - which I am SO TIRED of hearing. This is the FOURTH time a Wells Fargo representative has told me my phone number has been removed from the debt collection agency. The FOURTH TIME. Wells Fargo cannot understand that THAT IS NO LONGER THE ISSUE!
Do you think Wells Fargo customer service just simply doesn't read or that they are avoiding the real issue on purpose? We'll never know, but either way, it shows why you should NOT bank at Wells Fargo!
Don't even get me started on how Wells Fargo got one more surcharge in on us as we were moving accounts - the teller was oh-so-helpful in encouraging us to do something that turned out to have a $10 surcharge. I wonder if she gets 50%?
Let this blog serve as a warning to others!