Nine years later, Citibank’s fraud department is still self-defeating

Back in September 2005, I wrote Actually, No. about Citibank’s self-defeating fraud department, and the follow-up two months later Reply from Citibank which was just a form letter noting that they had received my complaint.

In that situation, their fraud department would call from an unverifiable number, potentially leaving a voicemail for you, asking you to call them back at an arbitrary unverifiable phone number, where they immediately ask for your account details to verify a transaction. As far as I know they still continue that asinine behavior.

Today, I got a new one: Citibank called to verify a transaction (presumably a large-ish payment I made to a new payee using online bill pay), and the caller asked me to verify receipt of an SMS message (“for security reasons”) by reading him the numeric code it contains, in order to verify they are in fact speaking to me. I told him that I received the message, but I was not comfortable giving him the code, as I could not verify who he is. I explained that he could just as easily be trying to e.g. gain control of my account and needing the verification code to complete a password reset or similar (social engineering me). I told him I would call the number printed on the back of my card, and asked him how to get back to him when doing so. He said he would leave a note on my account.

Of course, when I called back and authenticated to the agent, the agent tried to internally transfer me to the number left in the note (the fraud department), but instead got a message saying the department was closed (open only until 6pm Eastern time) despite someone from that department calling me literally 1 minute prior. It took the customer service agent tracking down the specific employee who left the note, and messaging him, to get me transferred to his personal extension, since going through the department extension wouldn’t work. In the end, it was in fact Citibank’s fraud department calling me, we verified the transaction they wanted to verify, and everything is cool on that end.

However, the bigger issue is that Citibank’s “fraud department” procedures are asinine and extremely self-defeating. I guess it’s time for another complaint to the executive office, and probably another form-letter reply.

18 thoughts on “Nine years later, Citibank’s fraud department is still self-defeating

  1. This exact practice is one of the reasons I left Citi. The other being that because of the type of travel I do for a living, I routinely set off fraud blocks on my account — which in some cases left me stranded in third would countries with no way to get cash. Save yourself some sanity and find another bank. You’ll be happier in the long run.

  2. Exactly, and it’s not just Citi. I got a call from a “collections agency” about some money I reportedly owed. The caller immediately started to ask for personal information (“May I get your name”) without any proof of who he was. I explained that I could not give any information without verifying the claim that I owed them money and their identity. For all i knew, they had reached my number randomly (or systematically) and were fraudsters. I asked to speak to a supervisor.

    Another man came on the phone and said, because this was supposedly a medical issue, they could not divulge any information, INCLUDING the name of the healthcare provider or the “patient” they were trying to reach.

  3. Thanks for this post. I just received an alarming pre-recorded call to an unverifiable number and when I followed the prompts, the person I spoke to eventually hung up on me when I tried to ask what entity she was with.

  4. What is the contact info for the executive office? I too am having trouble with their fraud department. Their processes are incredibly ass backwards.

    • I am having a horrible experience with Citibanks fraud department can anyone give me contact info to send written complaint

  5. I want to add my experience so that others may be aware. I was contacted by an alleged Citicard fraud department employee who asked me to give her the bank account number used to make payments on the credit card account in order to confirm my identity. I can’t believe Citicards would release that information to its fraud department!!!! They don’t need to know a bank account number used in making payments to Citicards as an identifier. I would think this is a scam except the call came from a verified Citicards number. Unbelievable!

  6. I Have a Business Somebody tried to bought merchandise from me using a Citi Credit card. The card went trough. I processed it with a phone app. later I called Citi when I suspected a scam. i talked to a Citi representative. I asked her if the credit card was stolen but she said it wasnt however the expiration date was wrong. Next day i did a reversal of the transaction. Now i still have to pay like $536 on fees .$268 for the payment i never use for any business and $268 for the reversal.

  7. Do you have an address for their executive office. I’m totally fed up with them. Someone applied to Citibank for a credit card in my name. I received communications from them asking for more information to process my application. Went to Experian and saw 2 inquiries and 2 fraudulent addresses — both from Citibank. I have no accounts with Citibank. Called them twice. Spent hours on the line with different agents trying to get me through to their fraud dept. These agents couldn’t pull up the ref # and couldn’t get me through to the fraud dept. Finally told me to go to a local branch office and also to call the fraud dept myself. I went to the local branch and they were able to get through to the central applications unit. The woman there cancelled the application. Told me to report it to their fraud dept. I’ve tried 4x. Finally this morning got through. What a run-around. He asked 3x what my account # was and I told him 3x I didn’t have one. He asked for my SSN# and I refused. Told him he didn’t have it and didn’t need it. I could give him the application reference #, the fraudulent addresses that appeared on my Experian account, etc. He first said he could pull up the reference # and then when he tried he couldn’t. Then he told me I should contact the credit bureau. (!!!) I told him that he should have listened when I explained that I had been to see my account on Experian and already spoke with them. I asked to speak with his supervisor. Sure. He went away. A while later came back and said the supervisor couldn’t come to the phone right then. Sure. He said he would put me through to the applications dept. I said I had already told him that I had been in touch with them and they had cancelled the application and told me to call his unit. I asked for the address of his dept so I could write to them. He went away to get it. Came back 2x and said he was still trying to get it. Finally came back and said he had the applications dept on the line now and wanted to transfer me to them. I lost it. Told him I’d already been in touch with them and that they had cancelled the application. They had told me to call hi. The company did nothing but point fingers to each other. Wasn’t interested in stopping fraud. Surely then could track this fraudster through the addresses on my Experian account–(even if those were innocent folks living there the fraudster had to be expecting to receive a physical credit card them somehow, perhaps through a forwarding address?) But no one at Citibank seems interested in stopping fraud. No wonder the $ just goes into a big black hole. If you have a corporate/executive office # I’d really like to spew this unbelievable adventure in telephone hopscotch onto their desk. Thanks.

  8. Between 2009 and 2010 I had discussions with the fraud department about charges to my account on a card I no longer used. Notes were taken, apologies from reps offered and nothing was done. It is more than six years later, and the same problem has reared its ugly head. The outsourced rep. on the phone asked the usual questions to which I could not possibly have an answer. I have not had an account with Citi Bank since 2009 or before?
    The lack of competency and understanding what the customer is communicating is astounding. Five reps later ( placed the first call at 6:50 am) the problem remains unresolved. Gail at 8:53 am said, ” I need to review the notes in the file and promise to call you back.” Hilary ID UN1225 asked to me to call her back as our connection was “poor”. I returned the call immediately. Sherida ITG539 answered the call and could not locate Hilary and was not aware of who Hilary was. She ended the call with I will post a note to your file with your number. I have been patient for years. Credit is affected again. Time spent trying to resolve CitiBanks incompetence has yielded nothing. I am about to contact the TV as maybe they can investigate for the consumer what is going on at Citi Bank. If anyone has the number for the CEO, I will call. If I were the CEO, I would want to know how my company is treating the consumer. Thank goodness I don’t bank at Citi Bank!!

  9. MICHAEL E. O’NEILL, Chairman, Citigroup Inc. I suggest others tweet PR dept. at Citicorp and Mr. O’Neill. At loss to resolve their problem I decided to tweet a comment and added Mr. O’Neills name. Good Luck

  10. Citibank needs to do better. I, too, have been fighting to resolve an issue with the fraud departments. They continue to violate Regulation E, and offer nothing but apologies and continual misinformation. It cannot be that hard. Today, a rep left me on hold (I believe intentionally) for over 30 minutes when I asked to speak to a supervisor. How can we get to the people who can make a difference?

    • The only way I found to contact a real person about a fraudulent application in my name was to walk into a local office and speak with the manager, throwing myself on their good graces. They did phone calls to various corporate offices and got me through to someone who actually helped. Another thing to be aware of (which I didn’t know before fighting that ID theft)–Citibank credit card offices are NOT a single entity. The thief in my case applied to TWO sources of Citibank credit cards in independent offices. The CitibankNA office is not the same as plain Citibank, albeit both must have a common corporate parent (I assume). Good luck!!

  11. They still continue this practice of calling and leaving a message to call back an unverifiable number then asking you to verify all your personal information, which I did not give them, as it just happened to me today regarding a new credit card account I’m opening. After some time with them I validated I applied for a new card with them. Vary bizarre practice considering the world we live in today. I’m seriously considering canceling the card.

  12. I recently have been approved for a Citibank Simplicity Card with a creditline of 8,800 i requested a creditline increase but didn’t get a instant answer so days later i called the number on the back of my card to see if the increase was approved and applied to the account but i was transferred to a extention which i later found out to be the fraud department they asked me what is my cell phone number to send a SMS message with a code i then provide the agent with my cell hour number she claim that she wasn’t able to send me the text and asked for an alternate number i gave her my house number which she again claimed that she wasn’t able to verify me threw that number so i have to wait for a letter in the mail with a code. Unbelievable Citibank needs to do better

    • Same thing happened to me today. In May 2021. Random text message to call a number that google doesn’t associate with Citi. I said I couldn’t verify they were citi. I called citi fraud department. Closed. Called number on back of card and finally was able to get account cleared. Rediculus

  13. Good to see this has been an issue for years. I opened a Citi card in November. They allowed exactly 7 transactions before flagging it for fraud (at a restaurant less than 5 miles from my house).

    Called in to verify my account. I provided the phone number associated to my account so they could send a text message to it for identity verification. “The system’s not allowing me to use that number” — I tried a second mobile phone number (my work cell) “Not allowing me to use that number either” — I tried my wife’s cell phone “Not allowing me to use that either”.

    They had to send me a snail mail letter with a verification code on it so that I could call in to provide them with the code. I happily closed my account once I had proven my identity to them.

    How am I supposed to get comfortable with using this card when it can be flagged for fraud (seemingly randomly) and then effectively prohibit me from using it until I get a letter IN THE MAIL?

  14. I could not agree more. I recently opened a Citibank checking account. My first direct deposit from unemployment came in on Tuesday July 7. On Wednesday July 8, I was unable to access my account. My mobile banking ap had been shut down as well. I have spent approximately 60 hours on the phone with about 70 different so called security team members who are by the way the most rude and incompetent group I have ever encountered. YOUR DESCRIPTION OF WHAT HAPPENED ON YOUR CALL IS EXACTLY WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME AT LEAST 40 TIMES( THE OTHER 30 TIMES I WAS HUNG UP ON

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