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Help me with these fraudulent charges on my card. Citi won't.

After reporting several fraudulent charges on her Costco Citi Card, Jeanne Vaul gets a new card. But Citi won't reverse the fake charges. What's going on?

I need your help with several fraudulent charges on my Costco Citi Card. I reported the charges as soon as I saw them. Citi locked the card and sent me a new one. But when I tried to activate the new card, I received a message that someone had already used the new card.

I reported the problem to Citi. It locked the new card and sent me another one. The second card didn't work either. The third card worked -- except that the charges for $613 were still on the bill.

My husband handled the dispute by phone, so there is no paper trail. We received a denial and immediately appealed. We have not heard back from Citi yet. We'd like to receive credit for the fraudulent charges. Can you help us?

Jeanne Vaul, Williamsburg, Va.

The fraudulent charges were obviously not yours. Whoever stole your card went on a spending spree, ordering pay-per-view and takeout meals. A halfway-skilled investigator could have figured out that these weren't your charges with a simple phone call -- or by looking at your previous spending patterns.

It's far more likely that there was some kind of electronic hiccup when you asked for a replacement card. And I think I know what happened. I'll tell you in a minute.

You did the right thing by disputing your credit card bill immediately. I outline the correct steps for a chargeback in my guide to credit card disputes. I also have executive contacts at Citibank that you could have used.

So what went wrong? In your denial letter, Citi says, "We previously reached out to you regarding your disputes, but since we didn’t receive the information we needed, we had to continue our investigation with the information we had available. Unfortunately, this information wasn’t sufficient to resolve the dispute in your favor and your dispute has been closed."

But you did not receive any inquiry from Citi. You say you spoke with the bank several times by phone, but no one mentioned a problem with your dispute.

Citi should have made a better effort to reach out to you and get the information it needed to complete your chargeback. If I had to guess, I would say it handed your dispute to an AI, which may have neglected to send you an email or letter asking for the additional information. It may have also been behind those non-working replacement cards.

Why do I think it's an AI? If you've spent any amount of time talking to an AI, you know that it easily forgets facts that you give it.

My advice: During a credit card dispute, keep all of your correspondence in writing. Don't do anything over the phone, since there will be no written record of the conversation.

I contacted Citi on your behalf. You finally received an email from the bank and provided it with the information it needed to process your refund. You received a full refund for the fraudulent purchases.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at [email protected] or get help by contacting him at

© 2023 Christopher Elliott


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