Unauthorized Withdrawals Lead to Frustration and Confusion - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Unauthorized Withdrawals Lead to Frustration and Confusion

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What if you discovered that money had been taken from your bank account for three years...without your approval?  It happened to one Bay County woman.  She turned to News 13 for help.  That's the focus of this week's Problem Solver.

Jeane Griffin of Lynn Haven says she got a phone call from someone in January 2010 claiming to represent Wells Fargo Mortgage talking about home warranty coverage.  Griffin says, "I told them i was not interested and hung up.  And forgot about it."

Time went on, but what Jeane didn't realize was $54.18 a month was being deducted from her Wells Fargo account money going to American Home Shield.  Since there was not a close check of her bank account statement, the deducted money was not missed.  That is, until, November 2013…almost $2,000…gone.

Griffin told us, "The bank called me wanting to know when I was going to pay for those bounced checks.  I said, what bounced checks?  What else did they say?  He told me how much I owed.  Two or three hundred dollars fees and all."  The money was not in Griffin's checking account to cover the monthly draft to American Home Shield.  That's when the red flags went up.

Ben Parish tried to help his sister with phone calls and letters to Wells Fargo and American Home Shield.  According to Parish, "I just wanted to get in the middle of it…figure out what was happening."  But, that proved to be a challenge.  He says, "Powerless is the word. Frustrating dealing with bureaucracy of American Home Shield.  We didn't see any movement at all until Channel 13 got involved."

News 13 contacted both Wells Fargo and American Home Shield with the question…"How was Jeane Griffin's banking information obtained?"  Griffin again said she did not agree to anything verbally in that original phone call and could not sign an agreement since she is legally blind. 

After we contacted both the bank and American Home Shield, News 13 received these statements:  "Wells Fargo is affiliated with many companies who offer our customers various services as 3rd party vendor. Such is the case with American Home Shield which offers home warranties. However, customers who wish to accept offers or do business with these 3rd party vendors must personally "enroll" in the service by providing their checking or debit/credit card information directly. Wells Fargo does not provide this information."

American Home Shield released this statement.  "We're continuing to review Mrs. Griffin's customer history, but because the warranty in question was sold by a third-party more than three years ago, it will take additional time to understand the events that led up to it. We felt the right thing to do in the meantime was to refund the customer while we looked into the matter further. We confirmed that the charges have been reversed with her bank and truly apologize for the inconvenience she has experienced while we have worked to resolve this. Thank you to the "Problem Solvers" team for allowing us to review and address Mrs. Griffin's case."

Jeane Griffin has now been reimbursed for the money she lost.  Griffin told us she was the victim of identity theft in the past.  That may or may not have been a factor in this case.  She is getting help now to closely monitor her banking information.