CitiBank & CostoCo: Marketing that feels like fraud

These two companies are engaged in some type of credit card marketing that mostly feels like fraud:

For the past few weeks we’ve received many calls from a number claiming to be CitiBank (855-805-5486). It’s an automated robot when it connects to voicemail, if you answer they connect you to a human who is quite demanding with information. And looking this number up on the internet has scores of people calling it a SCAM or FRAUD. They continue to call our number, which has been registered on the USA DoNotCall site since 2008!

If you call back it’s difficult to proceed without entering a credit card number or SSN. Why would you give that to a contact that is not trusted? Mashing all the buttons, saying ‘Operator’ a bunch of time and then just waiting finally did the trick.

I was eventually connected with a human (Marie). She refuses to provide her employee id. She is unable to tell me anything unless I have the numbers requested above!? I asked what address to send legal paperwork to. Then I was put on hold for 15 minutes.

When Marie came back they said they could remove my phone number from the dialer. But, if there is some fraud happening here – ignoring it is not the right answer? Why would an employee of Citi encourage behaviour that compounds the issues of identity theft and fraud? I demanded a supervisor.

I waited another 10 minutes to speak to a supervisor. Bridgette, in Collections #021684937 Why did I have to talk to someone in Collections!? To my knowledge I have no account here, my business has no account here. And this “Citi” representative claims there is an open account, with a balance!

I finally got the address to send legal issues to, so I could start sending the necessary registered mail for any legal proceedings. I was given these two addresses, but not sure which is better.

PO Box 9101, Des Moines, IA, 50368-9101
PO Box 6077, Sioux Falls, SD, 57117-6077

But the call cannot proceed with anything meaningful unless I share my SSN (or EIN) with them. I’m, naturally, reluctant to give this information to an untrusted contact. I cannot get anymore information, it’s a dead end.

I hang up, frustrated and nervous. Identity theft is a big issue – not just for the dollars that could be lost. It’s difficult and very time-consuming to try to fix these issues. The real cost is in one lone human fighting against a wall of corporate bullshit. Hours could be spent on the phone, sending certified mail, consulting with attorneys and all that.

Later that Afternoon

So, I found a CitiBank number that I could trust and called that one. Magically I got someone who is helpful. I asked them about this phone number (the one above, that’s real scammy-looking) and was informed here that it is in fact a CitiBank marketing phone number.

It’s related to a CostCo business account that I had closed over seven years ago. When I was on the line with this account manager they informed me that my old privacy settings were set to not call. They violated their own policy! This is the kind of complaint that should be filed with the FTC.

After maybe an hour of worry about fraud, and about an hour of time on the phone trying to fix things I was able to discover that there is really no problems. And also received yet another address for CitiBank.

Attn: Customer Service
Citi Bank
PO Box 6500
Sioux Falls, SD, 57117


Basically CitiBank at this point violated internal policy and the DoNotCall registry and used a scammy-feeling marketing tactic to try to re-capture legacy accounts. Accounts that had communications/privacy settings configured as DO NOT CONTACT

When contacted about this ploy CitiBank made the process difficult and was reluctant to share anything with their prospect/previous customer.

In my own mind the reputation of CitiBank, CostCo and AmEx has been seriously damaged.

Update 2016-10-13

The calls continue.

Update 2016-10-15

After I tweeted to CitiBank they called me back, they mentioned that my phone number (the one on our website) was associated with another account! Perhaps it’s a sales-padding thing, like Wells Fargo. It turns out someone else just used our phone number for contact. It appears that CitiBank takes registrations from “customers” without verifying them. I was told by Amber in their payments department – “anyone can use any phone number”.

Now the issue is that Citi gives credit out to people who they haven’t even verified the phone number for. Then they will harass whoever has that phone number and make it very difficult to get any resolution. But, if you Tweet them, then the matter finally gets handled. WTF.