As the result of several bank mergers, we have been customers of Wells Fargo, or a division thereof, for over 2 decades. However, we’ve never signed up for a credit card from the bank. That’s because Wells Fargo cards don’t earn either transferrable points or ones that are directly deposited into a co-brand partner account. The Wells Fargo cards earn points you can use to book trips through their travel portal or get cash back as statement credits or money from an ATM.
Well, that was until now, because Wells Fargo is the issuing bank of the Bilt Mastercard. I signed up for a Bilt account over a month ago and linked it to my travel accounts, earning a small number of points for each account. It wasn’t until I received a bonus offer for 10,000 Bilt Rewards points that I gave in and signed up for the card.
I’m not sure if it was because of my credit score or history with the bank, but I received instant approval with a significant credit limit. Since most of the Bilt ecosystem is built around its smartphone app, I was directed to check out my account. From there I could see my account number with a virtual card, which I could start using immediately. I could also add that card to my smart wallet and use it for Apple Pay.
I followed the directions and was set up to use the card within minutes. I used my Bilt account to pay for a soda at Circle K and used Apple Pay in the Dunkin Donuts app. The following day I saw a voicemail from a number claiming to be Wells Fargo Fraud Department about suspicious activity with my account.
I waited until the end of the day and searched the number. I had no way to call the number on the back of my card as I had just signed up and didn’t have a card.
A representative picked up quickly and asked for my account information, which I provided. She also asked me to confirm the last four digits of my phone as they needed to send me a text to confirm my identity.
I got the text, repeated the number to her and the conversation started. She asked if I spent $3.07 at Circle K and I informed her that I did.
She thanked me for calling. Everything was fine.
I hung up and just didn’t feel right about the call, so I looked up the number for the Wells Fargo fraud department. It was a different number than I had just dialed, so I got nervous. First thing, I changed the password on my Wells Fargo account.
Then I called the other number. While it said online that this was for fraud, it appeared to be the main credit card number. I managed to cancel the voiceprint identification process and eventually spoke with an agent.
I explained my earlier call and wanted to confirm I was talking with them. I had to go through my account info and eventually confirmed the transaction. She asked again why I called and I told her, “You called me!” She did more looking and asked if I could confirm my card information. I said I couldn’t because I hadn’t received the card yet and was using the number from the Bilt app in my Apple Pay.
That was the problem, she said. Because I hadn’t confirmed receiving the card yet, any charges made before that are considered possible fraud. I wondered, but didn’t ask, “Then why do you provide a virtual number to use before receiving the card?”
I’d venture a guess that this is a problem between Bilt and Wells Fargo’s systems. While Bilt is centered around digital payments and your smartphone, Wells Fargo is a brick-and-mortar bank that’s been pulled into the digital age. Old habits die hard and programmers wrote Wells’ systems way before people could use an account before they get a card in the mail.
I’ve still been closely watching my Bilt and Wells Fargo accounts to ensure nothing’s wrong. I’ve also received my Bilt card in the mail (and activated it), so hopefully I’ve come to the end of these problems.
With the prevalence of scams and phishing calls, I couldn’t help but be skeptical when I received a call from Wells Fargo about my account. The rep had a lot of information about me and my account, but who knows what’s available after all the data breaches. Unfortunately, we have to call the banks back when we receive a legitimate fraud alert or risk having the bank turn off all of your accounts as a precaution.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary
Cover Photo “Wells Fargo Bank” by Mike Mozart is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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While I understand the scenario that you posted, but why does Citibank do fraud alerts on simple purchases, but then says cardholder travel alerts are no longer necessary? Citi has done this to me numerous times and it is a PITA…