Why am I chasing Chase to get my $11,422 back?

By | November 18th, 2016

When Robin and Arie Genchel heard from Chase that someone in France had charged over $11,000 to their debit card for a jewelry purchase, they had every reason to believe their card would stop payment of the charge.

But the following day, Chase debited their bank account for the full amount of the charge – and more. And it won’t reverse the charge even though it was clearly fraudulent.

How could Chase have allowed payment on an obviously phony charge? Why won’t it return the Genchels’ money? And what can the Genchels do to get their money back?

On Sept. 7, at 6:47 a.m., the Genchels received email notification from Chase advising them that an $11,085 debit card transaction exceeded their $125 daily limit. They immediately notified Chase on the telephone, by email and through personal visits to several local branches of the bank that the charge was unauthorized.

Chase determined that the charge had been made in France for a jewelry purchase from a Daniel Gérard Joaillerie. The Genchels live in Woodland Hills, Calif., where Arie Genchel had recently undergone surgery for a broken hip. They had not been in France at all; nor had they purchased any jewelry. Despite this determination, Chase debited $11,422 (the original charge plus an additional $337) from their account.

The next day, Robin Genchel called Chase and was told that a claim had been filed and that “the claims department was working on it.”

But three days later, the money had not been restored to her account. She called Chase’s customer claims department again and was told that on Sept. 7 Chase had made four phone calls to the Genchels, who had approved the transaction.

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The Genchels had not received any of these calls and say they had not approved the transaction. The telephone numbers Chase allegedly called were to a former fax line number that no longer belonged to the Genchels, and to Arie Genchel’s business – which was closed at 6:47 a.m. Chase refused to provide the Genchels copies of recordings of the calls.

The Genchels continued to follow up with Chase’s customer claims department, only to be given a runaround. Each time they called, they were transferred to another agent. Some of the agents they spoke to were in foreign countries. Many responded to the Genchels, if at all, in a curt, condescending manner.

One agent actually told the Genchels that “since they had so much money in the bank, they would not miss an extra $11,000.” (Really?) But all the agents replied that they were investigating, they needed more time, or that there was nothing they could do for the Genchels because “they had authorized the charge.”

And Chase ultimately told the Genchels that it “had investigated the claim and determined it to be legitimate;” therefore, they were denying the Genchel’s claim.

Come again?

Debit card transactions are covered by Regulation E of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), which provides that once a financial institution is notified of an error, including an unauthorized debit card transfer, the institution must:

  • Promptly investigate the oral or written allegation of error,
  • Complete its investigation within 10 business days, (Section 205.11(c)(1))
  • Report the results of its investigation within three business days after completing its investigation, and
  • Correct the error within one business day after determining that an error has occurred.
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So if a customer immediately notifies the bank that a debit card charge is unauthorized, as the Genchels did, the customer should not be liable for the charge at all.

Chase’s website indicates that it offers “real-time fraud monitoring” as a service to its customers:

Real-time fraud monitoring:
If a debit card transaction is out of character from your normal spending habits, we may contact you to make sure it’s actually yours.

Account Alerts:
Sign up and we’ll call, text or email you if a debit card purchase or ATM withdrawal exceeds a limit you’ve specified.

Zero-Liability Protection:
You don’t pay for any unauthorized debit card transactions when you notify us promptly.

Guaranteed Reimbursement:
Unauthorized purchases and withdrawals are back in your account by the end of the next business day. You don’t have to wait while we investigate.

Yet despite the law and these promises, Chase didn’t provide the zero-liability protection or guaranteed reimbursement to the Genchels. Whatever “investigation” it did was as fraudulent as the charge that Chase never should have processed. And its customer claims department apparently needs an overhaul.

Consumers can protect themselves from unauthorized debit card charges by closely monitoring their accounts and immediately reporting unauthorized charges to their financial institutions, as the Genchels did. It is also often recommended that debit cards not be used at all; credit cards should be used instead.

The Genchels might have utilized our executive contacts for Chase. They reported the fraud to the Los Angeles Police Department, the FBI, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and shared their story with ABC and NBC local news networks.

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They also contacted our advocates, but since they’re also suing Chase, their case is outside our wheelhouse. We hope that the courts give the Genchels the justice they are due by requiring Chase to return their stolen money. In the meantime, we’re posting their story as a warning to others.

  • DChamp56

    Just plain WOW! Had anyone contacted the jeweler, to see the videotape of the person purchasing (all jewelry stores have cameras)? Something sounds bogus here.

  • AAGK

    This is really crazy. Based on these facts, it seems like a nobrainer. Chase is required to supply the Genchels with all of the docs used in support of the denial. The 1st page of this packet would include a receipt from the merchant, a shipping address, a tracking number for the jewelry mailing, etc. If the merchandise was purchased in store (in France) then the merchant must account for how it allowed a customer to charge $11k with a card not present. If it was, then Chase must also send these folks a copy of the signed receipt.
    Chase may not close the dispute otherwise.

  • Kairho

    Also … when Chase is calling someone they are obligated to ensure the person they connected with is actually the person who owns the card. It’s more complicated than asking for the account’s password, too!

    I’ve had a similar situation occur and they validated me by looking at recent transactions and asking questions only I would know, after which they noted in the account that those answers could never be used again. There are other techniques, too.

  • sirwired

    Yeah; it’s clearly lawsuit time. It’s a shame the amount is well over what can be handled in Small Claims court, because this should be a pretty straightforward slam-dunk case. Subpeona: “Chase, please provide recordings of these phone calls where the charge was authorized. What’s that? You can’t find them or don’t have them?” Bam! Case closed.

    I do especially love the rep telling them they shouldn’t be so upset, since they had enough money that they wouldn’t miss the $11k. “Not Going to Get My House Foreclosed On” =/= “Not Going to Miss Enough Money to Buy a Decent Used Car”

    (And this is another object lesson as to why Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Debit Cards; the bank gives a lot more attention to cases where somebody’s stolen THEIR money vs. when somebody’s stolen YOUR money.)

    Now, for SirWired’s Storytime:
    I wake up at 6AM on a Saturday morning to find a text that Capital One has cleared two charges to my credit card overnight. One for Match.com (SirWired is very happily married to LadyWired! Honest!) and one for $3k for some online store based in Indonesia. I of course immediately call Cap One to dispute the charges, and the rep doesn’t give me any grief about it. In passing, I mention that clearly their fraud detection systems must really stink for letting that charge through, given how I’ve never been to Indonesia.

    The rep agrees that does sound pretty silly and does some more digging. She said they denied it at first, but it went through the second time after “verification”. Apparently they called my cell phone first (I didn’t answer because the phone was downstairs and I was asleep), and also sent an e-mail asking me to verify the charge. Their system reported that I clicked on the “Verified” link in the e-mail.

    I ask her what e-mail address this went to, because I have my GMail account locked down like Fort Knox (totally unique password, 2-factor-authentication, etc.), and of course I start looking in my e-mail for this message. I don’t find it, but lo and behold, I DID get a message confirming I’ve changed my e-mail address to firstname.lastname@yahoo.com. I of course tell the rep that that address, despite being rather plausible, isn’t mine. I ask how the e-mail address was changed, since it would be difficult for them to impersonate me on Cap One’s website also.

    She looks this up and finds it was changed over the phone… turns out that while the website is locked down tight, to change an e-mail address, one only needs to provide the account number (which the thief obviously has), and the last four digits of my Social (which is used SO many places as a particularly stupid form of “security”, that it might as well be listed in the Yellow Pages.) to “verify” one’s self to the phone reps. I mention that it makes no sense to leave the phone wide-open (letting you do all sorts of mischief), but lock down the website. After all, crooks don’t want to read my statement, they want my (okay, the bank’s) money.

    Anyway, I of course changed my e-mail address back, and the charges were reversed, and I never heard anything else about it. And I now have a “Security Word” for all interactions over the phone, so that shouldn’t happen again, even if Cap One hasn’t fixed their other “security” procedures.

  • AAGK

    You are right. Security questions may also be flimsy confirmation. The best way is for them to send a code via text or email to your number on file that second and you repeat the code back and/or they call you back on the other line. However, whether the transaction was approved verbally/via message shouldn’t have entered this inquiry unless Chase mailed all of the docs I listed above.

  • mbods2002

    WHAT? This story is definitely a “share” to get the word out.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Holy mother of god! WHAT???

    Wow. Double wow. This is one of the most egregious cases of bad customer service I’ve ever seen. Actually, it’s beyond that. This is criminal.

    Chase is my bank. Now I feel completely UNPROTECTED. 11,000 dollars??? That’s not a small sum. That would knock the crap out of us for sure.

    I’m especially horrified over the Chase rep who suggested that the fact that they had that much money in their account means they wouldn’t miss it. We are not rich, but we do have a couple of rental properties that are our retirement nest egg, and when those rent checks come in our account swells temporarily. But virtually all of that money is already earmarked for bills. If something like this happened to us, it could destroy us.

    I’m also concerned because we recently cancelled our home phone number (due to all the telemarketing calls). I have ensured that my bank has my cell phone number, but it used to have my home phone. How can I be sure that they won’t call that old land-line number if they can’t get hold of me on my cell when they are trying to question a charge?

    Will you be able to let us know the outcome here? I’m seriously considering dumping Chase over this. If they are that quick to abandon their customer in the face of OBVIOUS fraud, forcing them to the courts (and the accompanying legal costs), then that says to me they are not going to be there for me if I get hit with a fraudulent charge. It’s happened to me before – I’ve already had to get cards replaced several times due to fraudulent charges.

  • LeeAnneClark

    A similar thing happened to my sister. Using the process you described, someone was able to change the email on her bank account – and then proceeded to charge thousands of dollars to her account, verifying them via email. She never even received a notice that the email address had changed on her account!

    She had to fight for months to get the charges reversed. Fortunately she never did have to actually sue them – she was able to document things enough that they reversed the charges. But the fact that they made it so hard was all she needed to know – as soon as she got her money back she cancelled that account and took her business elsewhere.

  • AAGK

    The Genchels need to amend their complaint with the CFPB. The complaint against Chase bank should be based on its failure to perform a proper investigation and most importantly, supply these folks with the documentation it obtained from the merchant. The complaint should reflect Chase’s failure to comply with its requirements post error and not focus on the fact that Chase honored the transaction in the first instance. Hopefully reworking the complaint will compel Chase to void the transaction. They may have to call the CFPB to let them know it’s not a duplicate complaint, etc

  • Regina Litman

    If I had a bank account with at least $11,000 in it, I’d certainly miss that much. Heck, I’d miss 11 cents even if I had $11,000 in my account!

  • Alan Gore

    This is a really strange story, and I get the impression there is missing information. I have had unauthorized credit card charges before, one for $4200 in a part of Italy that I have never visited, and handling them through the bank’s fraud department has always been routine.

    Debit cards operate with looser rules than credit cards, but banks take debit fraud just as seriously.

  • Rebecca

    They also NEED to file a formal, federal complaint and probably a state complaint as well. I’m guessing there is more to the story, based on my experience. These folks probably are victims of further identity theft as well. But this is so illegal, and violates so many regulations, I think there has to be part of this missing. Not that they did anything wrong, just that I’m sure there’s more to this. If they have filed a lawsuit, assuming Chase’s legal department is familiar with this situation and they STILL haven’t received the money, there has to be more to this.

  • Rebecca

    You’re exactly right. If the legal team at Chase has seen this and the funds are not restored, there has to be more to this.

  • MF

    The Genchels are poster children why consumers everywhere should also be recording all calls ‘for quality assurance purposes’, just mutter ‘me too’ at the beginning of the call & record away. Either that, or ask the NSA for a copy of your call, I’m sure it’s all being recorded now, or it will be 3 months from now…

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    Something fishy is going on. When an unauthorized charge happened on my credit card, just 20 miles from my house (though at Saks, a store we’ve never shopped at), Bank of America’s computer realized it was fraud just after they let the transaction go through, and called us after the perps had left the store where we confirmed that it was fraud. Another replacement credit card number.

  • I thought that debit cards had a daily hard limit on them. Mine is $2500 per day. It’s at a credit union, but I thought this was common practice at all banks.

    Also, Chase touts it’s proactive fraud protection:


    From that website:

    SecurityBuilt-in security and safety features.

    Real-time fraud monitoring:
    If a debit card transaction is out of character from your normal spending habits, we may contact you to make sure it’s actually yours.

    Account Alerts:
    Sign up and we’ll call, text or e-mail you if a debit card purchase or ATM withdrawal exceeds a limit you’ve specified.

    Zero-Liability Protection:
    You don’t pay for any unauthorized debit card transactions when you notify us promptly Footnote 4 (Opens Overlay).

    Guaranteed Reimbursement:
    Unauthorized purchases and withdrawals are back in your account by the end of the next business day Footnote 5 (Opens Overlay). You don’t have to wait while we investigate.

    Added Security:
    A chip adds another layer of security to cards when used at a chip card reader. During the chip transaction, the chip produces a single-use code to validate the transaction — further protecting cards from unauthorized use. Learn more at chase.com/chip

  • Bill___A

    This is very unfortunate and I hope it gets resolved. Normally, from what I understand, there are daily limits for cash withdrawals and for debit transactions. One should check and make sure the limits are set to realistic values. However, fraud needs to be resolved quickly and properly.

  • C Schwartz

    That is pretty impressive fraud, changing the email.

  • C Schwartz

    Someone cloned my debit card (which i only use at the bank to get cash, not for purchases) with a good skimmer on the bank ATM machine. The bank froze my card after it was used to withdraw cash (scammers likely had a camera watching the key pad I was later told). It took about 2 weeks for the bank to get me the $500 back that was lost. Now I do not extra cash in the checking account — I transfer enough from the savings to cover the withdrawals. There is no debit card for the savings account.

  • kittymocha

    I had a cred card frozen by the bank one time and called the customer service line. Someone was in London using my number for hotel charges and fancy lingerie I would like to take a trip to London some day but haven’t even 10-12 years later. They immediately took it off my card and sent a new one. This was BofA and we always get good customer service from them. The 11,000 would be a big hit to us also. I’m surprised anyone with a Chase account reading this wouldn’t immediately change banks!

  • cscasi

    I have banked with Chase for years and have had a fraud issue a couple of times but Chase has resolved the issues without any delay. It does, of course, reissue the effected credit card but I have not lost any funds as a result. Of course, I have never had a debit card issue and I only use it for ATM withdrawals or when I go into a branch to conduct business.
    I will tell you that I made an online out of country purchase by purchasing some airline tickets on Aer Lingus last week. The total was a little over $428.
    I clicked on the purchase button and it went through. I went to my email to see the receipt from Aer Lingus and saw there was an email from Chase Bank asking me to verify the purchase. That popped up within twenty seconds of the time I made the purchase. I clicked the yes block and sent it back. I am impressed that Chase is watching those types of purchases for fraud and sending our queries.
    I will also mention to everyone the importance of ensuring you keep your telephone number(s) and email address updated with your banks so they can readily contact you for things like this. If you give them your cell phone number as the main contact point, you had better be sure you have it near you and on as some of these fraudulent things happen in the middle of the night and if you do not respond right away, it is possible for things to get out of hand before you do report it. That said, the banks are not supposed to charge you for fraudulent purchases if you make a reasonable attempt to contact the bank as soon as you know this happened.
    Hope the Genchels get this resolved in their favor. Like so many said, contact the jewelry store and get all the details from it, including a copy of any video it has in the store. I hope the outcome will become known here when it comes about.

  • “In the meantime, we’re posting their story as a warning to others.” . . . to cancel any connection with Chase and find another bank.


  • Bill

    Heck of a story … this should be an object lesson for us all. I had always found Cap One’s fraud detection a little extra sensitive (which doesn’t bother me) but to be able to re-route account related emails with a phone call … kind of silly. Great idea with the security word. As an additional protective measure, whenever I answer security questions, I always use nonsensical answers. For example, when answer the street I grew up on, I might choose a color or some other completely random word.

  • greg watson

    Before anyone blows a gasket, is Elliott or his advocates going to check out this story with the bank & let us know the result ??

  • sirwired

    I have all my credit card accounts set up to text me immediately for any charge, no matter how small. Cap One and Citibank usually send it out within ten seconds.

    The dispute becomes instantly credible if you file it within hours of the charge going through.

  • Tim Mengelkoch

    Maybe some one has already said this but the real WOW here is that anyone would link a debit card to an account with over $11,000 in it!

  • Tim Mengelkoch

    Chase doesn’t care because it’s not their money

  • LonnieC

    Works well. I have the same feature on my AmEx card. Transactions usually show up before I can get out the door.

  • joycexyz

    Perhaps there’s a complicit agent as Chase? It wiuld explain the so-called investigation’s outcome. Could it be the snarky guy who told them they wouldn’t miss $11,000?

  • AAGK

    Excellent point. The max debit card purchase limit at Chase is below 11k and for an ATM it’s even lower. This doesn’t seem possible.

  • AAGK

    A credit card is the bank’s money and not yours. It’s a loan. A checking account is my actual money.

  • wilcoxon

    Unfortunately we were just notified our bank is doing the same thing. We have ATM cards and credit cards but not the bank’s debit card. They just told us that they are discontinuing ATM cards and that we must get a debit card. I asked if it was possible to disable the debit “feature” but they said no. They did say there is a way to set a max amount per transaction so hopefully I can set that low enough to block any charges going through (we’ll see).

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