Thursday, January 17, 2008

First Financial Bank, Experts at Committing Credit Card Fraud

I've been trying to close my First Financial Credit card for three months now. It all started when I got a bill with a positive balance. As their customer service was closed when I opened the bill, and the card had carried a zero balance for a number of months, I reported an unauthorized transaction.

The charge was later revealed to be an "Annual membership fee."

Over the next couple months, despite repeated calls to cancel the account and promises that the charges would be reversed I got another bill for January, 2008.

I opened it on Jan 17, 2008. They claimed I not only owed them $10.00 but now owed a $37.00 late fee and a $0.50 finance charge.

They wanted me to pay $47.50 in charges for a credit card that had carried a zero balance for a prolonged period and which I had been trying to cancel for three months, all the while receiving promises that the charges were being reversed.

I called customer service and reached Joe, Rep ID # 354.

He said the account had been reviewed, had been reinstated and that while the account was closed the balance was still due. He refused to reverse the charges. Apparently one of the reps I spoke to in December when I was trying to cancel the account had decided to reinstate it, thus initiating the $10.00 charge.

Joe considered the matter resolved, and was telling me how I needed to pay the outstanding balance.

I informed him that I was NOT paying the bill, as First Financial was NOT entitled to the money, and that if the charges were not reversed and the account closed I would report credit card fraud to the three main credit reporting agencies.

He still insisted that "The account was already reviewed."

I asked how I escalated this issue. After several minutes on hold he Transferred me to the "After hours Service Department" at 800-733-1732.

I spoke with Patty. When I asked for her rep number she said it was "extension 2321." She said that she had credited the balance and the late fee and that my next bill, which would be cut on Feb 5, would reflect a zero balance.

I asked if there was a confirmation number she could give me, and she said there was none. I asked her when I would could call in to hear the zero balance on the automated phone line. She said she did not know, but said the credits would be processed before my next bill was cut.

I remain, understandably, dubious. I called in at 8:08 pm, about 15 minutes after the customer service calls finished and it still reported my account as "delinquent."

My plan from here on out is simple. I'm going to call their balance hotline, and if I don't hear a "Zero balance" by Monday, then Tuesday, I'm calling their customer service.

If I get another bill, I'm going to do the following:
  • Report the incident as credit card fraud to TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.
  • File a complaint with the BBB.
  • File a small claims case against First Financial.
  • Run a credit report. If this debacle is reflected in my credit score then the Small Claims case will be for the maximum allowable by Small Claims Court for the damage they're doing to my future financial solvency be attacking my credit rating. I'll also contest it on my credit report with TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

I'm sick of this, I'm sick of these liars claiming the charges are being reversed when they aren't. All I wanted to do was cancel a credit card I no longer used or needed, and First Financial Bank seems to have taken umbrage to this notion.

1st Financial Bank USA
PO Box 1050
N Sioux City, SD 57049

24 comments:

MollyMo said...

i had the EXACT same problem today. well, almost anyway. My bill was due on the 7th of jan, 08. I mailed it out 8 days in advance, as I do with all credit card bills, to ensure it gets there on time. It's a credit card with a 250 limit, with no interest as long as you stay under the limit. Its supposedly for college students. Anyway, I was forced to use it for a vet visit. I got my bill this week... opened it, and to my surprise, it has a late fee. They didn't get it until the 9th... NOW.. I've NEVER had a bill take TEN days to get ANYWHERE. I mean, really, how early are you expected to mail these things out? Not only that, but because of the late fee, it put me over my limit--another 37 dollars. SO, I called and tried to get it straightened out, only to find out that I have, YET ANOTHER late fee, for not paying the amount that was overdue by the 15th. I didn't even get my bill until the 22nd. So, I was planning on paying this off anyway with my college loans, but they are literally screwing me out of 100 dollars. Also, she told me that she can offer me a "C credit" and eliminate the late fees, as long as i pay it first.... sounds like exactly what they are telling you. Why do i have to pay something, in order to get it canceled? Got me. Unfortunately, i haven't had much experience with credit cards, and don't really know how to go about taking care of this. I'm getting kind of worried that it's a scam, and it's ruining my virtually perfect credit. Just thought you'd like to know that someone else is going through the same thing, with the same exact bank.

also, I just saw on the news last night, that some credit card companies have been found to be holding bills and entering them in as late, to force a late fee.

Matthew said...

MollyMo,

1st Financial and, in my experience, MBNA both send paper bills so it's pretty much impossible to pay them on time, even if you mail a check the same day you get the bill. I do most my banking online, which, if I send the payments on time, makes it hard for them to claim I made a late payment.

Anonymous said...

exactly--i found it weird they didn't have a website that I could pay my bill. That's how I pay everything else. I'm calling to pay off the balance, but I'm still worried I'll get a bill saying that I need to pay something else.

Krozard said...

I had similar issues...I got a bill for $10 on November 8th...saying my balance was due November 7th. So I call so ask how much I have to pay and they said with late fees and everything I owed $50. They said there was no way to get this payment revoked or anything and that it's "my responsibility to keep up on payments"

So I pay it, call and ask for my account to be canceled, and get a letter a couple days later saying it was canceled, yet I still continue to get monthly bills of $0. So I'm worried they may have reinstated my account as well.

Anonymous said...

When I tried to cancel my account, that is exactly what they did to me. I kept getting bills with $0 balance, so I would call and they said they were "keeping it open in case I changed my mind". So I told them I wanted it CANCELLED and they said ok. A few weeks later, I got a letter and $0 bill that said "incase you change you're mind, we're offering you interest free something or other... for the next 6 months." SO I had to call AGAIN and scream at them to cancel it. That card is such a scam.

Anonymous said...

I closed this account three years ago and paid off the balance. Then I found them on my credit report as having a balance of $39. I have yet to talk with their never-open service office, but I am digging in for a fight.

Felicia said...

I have the same credit card and pay my bill online. I used to be able to pay my bill for free online but they now slipped a $9 fee. Wow.
NOW I'm having this problem where I made a payment online, confirmed it and everything, and they are telling no such payment has ever went through and that they are charging me $37 because I didn't pay my bill on time! BULL! I even checked my computer history and it says "CONFIRM PAYMENT" on May 3rd, 11:49 PM. But for whatever the reason, the payment didn't go through. I've explained to them dozens of times of my situation but they won't hear of it and just say to pay the fee. This is ridiculous because I pay $9 to pay my damn bills and STILL they mess it up! Is anyone else having this problem?!

Anonymous said...

Felicia,
I didn't have the same exact problem, but I used to pay it over the phone. My payment went through my bank, but they said that I never did it. Luckily, I copied down my confirmation number (because I had had problems prior to this), and when I told them I had a confirmation number, they told me I would need a lawyer in order to listen to the tape of me paying my bill over the phone. Long story short, they NEVER give in and make you pay it. So I paid off my balance, and canceled the card. They kept sending me bills for months with like a 17 cent balance... probably trying to get me to not pay it, so they could charge me 37 dollars. I had to call them like 3 or 4 times to get it officially canceled. You should definitely cancel that card as soon as possible... nothing but a scam!

Richard said...

Wow that's unbelievable! Even if you have the confirmation number they can still steal from you. Ridiculous. People need to start reporting this company to the BBB because currently they have a A+ as their rating! That can't be right!

Anonymous said...

I really wanted to report them, but didn't know where to start... I guess that's the problem.. instead, I paid off all of the fees and just got rid of my card, too. I had no clue so many other people were having the same exact problem!

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I don't know any of you, and none of you know me, but I just want to say thank you for warning me off of getting a card from this company. I also was wondering how they got my information (name, address, etc.) and while I was researching loans, I found this. https://www.collegedata.com/
Look on the side bar, the bottom, whatever. Their name is all over the page. And anyone who makes an account with them gets an invitation for a credit card from them when they hit 18. (I got this a week after my birthday.) And who knows? FFB might get their info from collegedata, but collegedata might get their info from other sources too... hmm... this might go pretty deep.
Who knows how many more sponsored sites FFB may be running?
What was I saying... Oh yeah. This proves that they specifically target inexperienced young adults entering college and are definitely out to suck peoples bank accounts dry. This has DON'T TRUST written all over it... Thanks for saving my life, people here. This page was the first google result I got for searching "1st financial bank usa scam"! Congrats.
unfortunately, they're still fdic ensured, so people trust them. ;(

Anonymous said...

This company is the BIGGEST scam out there in the credit card world!! First thing I learned in my business law 2101 class was to PUT EVERYTHING IN WRITING!! I, too, had this credit card and numerous attempts to collect late fees, over-limit charges, etc when I ALWAYS pay atleast 15 days before the due date. I sent certified return receipt letters to these scammers and as of today's date I haven't heard from them again and my credit is perfect! PUT YOUR WORDS IN WRITING, PEOPLE with receipt of them receiving your correspondence.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I think we all know that NOW. No need for a class.

Anonymous said...

my interest rate was increased from 17% to 26.9 percent. within that last 2 months. I called and they said that the way the economy is they had to do that. I had a balance of 5,000 dollars. I was making minimum payments and it was only taking 6 dollars off of the principle balance each month. So I paid it off last week. We will see what happens now that the balance is zero. by the way they add the interest to your account daily.

melanie said...

I have a credit card with this bank, and have had a very positive experience. I have been building my credit for two years now with them, and paying at least the minimum due, if not the full amount every month. Usually I pay online, because they dropped the $9 epay fee, and it's easier than sending checks in the mail.

Of the complaints I have read (interest rates rising, getting paper bills late when it's your responsibility to be aware of your balance which you can always check online, fees for e-pay online, annual fees) it seems like none of you read the fine print when you signed your name on the dotted line.

If you were offered this credit card, and signed up for it, realize that you signed up for a CREDIT CARD. You need to be responsible for your own money. That's part of growing up. If you think this company is bad, try getting a real Non-student credit card and see how friendly THEY are to work with.

Basically, I think that 1fbusa is a great company. I have had no problems with them and the customer service reps have always been helpful with my questions. If you are going to sign up for a credit card, be responsible. You were the one who signed up after all.

Anthony said...

Well I think you're kindve retarded, Melanie.

Anonymous said...

Uhhh yeah, Melanie. They actually just got sued. I received a check in the mail totaling 2 late fees that they ripped me off for, both of which I called and tried to fight. It only took 2 years to get my money back! Its a scam. I HAVE another credit card which has not once fraudulently charged me. Getting charged bs late fees should NOT be a "part of life".

Anonymous said...

I first heard of FFB when I received a letter in the mail at the age of 17. It promised easy monthly payments on a student credit card.
I moves out of my parents house, signed up for school and got a crappy job.
When I got the card in the mail it said I had a 150 dollar credit limit. I was told my minimum payment would be around 25 a month. That's when my credit limit was "overdrawn" by 3 cents. Now my minimum payment became 95 dollars. I could not make the payment, and the calls started.
Now I'm over 600 dollars in debt and unemployed, I don't think it was very fair. They never mentioned anything about "credit limit" overdrafts, and if you ask me; I never even spent that much money anyways.

So the calls persist and I sit here waiting for a job. These people are relentless and rude.
And now I have horrible credit, thanks america.

Anonymous said...

I have been having similar problems. I tried to make several payments online was told it went through then charged late fee's now I pay over the phone because I do not trust their site. They raised my interest in September without giving me the 45 days advances notice required by law and also today my bill included a yearly fee that I've never paid in the 4 years I had the card. I wasn't told 45 days in advance about this also not given the "opt out" option now included in the new laws stating that the company must ask you before they change terms and if u disagree you can close the account and pay it off at your current terms. I am absolutely furious at all the charges and fee's I've paid and will be contacting the BBB and a lawyer because at 30% they have been stealing from me.

Anonymous said...

I have been a cardholder since 2007 unwillingly. I have been a victim of identity theft.. Because my parents happened to be deadbeats and drug addicts they used my social security number to sign up online for cards and just went hog wild.. I have never signed up for this card but when i turned 18 i pulled up a credit report and it was on there. I called the customer service dept as soon as i found out. They redirected me to the "identity theft department" and she berated me and told me that i was trying to get free money out of them. That i was not able to do anything but pay off the 5000 dollar balance on the card. She said to me the only thing she could do was change the number on the card and send out a new one. I told her just cancel it, she said fine ok we will cancel your account. well a few weeks later i received a new card in the mail. I wasn't sure what was going on so i called back and she told me that the account is still open, and she will cancel it.. I have been trying for years now to cancel this bs account and i finally paid off the card and i received a letter in the mail saying that since my balance is 0 i will now have to pay a higher annual fee of $50. Yeah that's great and everything but i don't freaking want a card that i didn't even get in the first place and had to pay off someone elses spending sprees that put me in debt with many other cards, and this was the only card i have had problems with. there have been over 20 cards and loans that i never knew about all maxed out. plus 4 years of 29.999% interest.. wow.. talk about bending over and taking it..
If you think this company is all good, then you probably can't find your ass with both hands if you tried.. This company needs to be put out of business but they thrive off of young people and thieves.. and they're still standing.. would love to shit on their parade.. I'm in the army now and i think a lawyer for this is free, but i'm going to have to find the time to pursue something at least..

Anonymous said...

I HATE 1FBUSA. They are con artists and we need to start a class action lawsuit against these credit card criminals to get our hard earned money back. My story about these highly trained thieves is too long to post on here but I wish I knew what I was getting into before signing up for a card with these crooks.

Anonymous said...

I got a bill from them when about a month after i had my 18Th birthday saying i owed them $200 and i have never even filled out a form to get a card from them nor did i ever receive one and use it and i kept getting bills over the months there after gradually getting higher so i called and told em look i don't know why y'all keep sending me bills on a card i have never even seen. they said well they don't just send out cards too people without them applying for it and i said well i never did and that i wanted it cancelled and wanted a list of transactions so i could find out where the money was spent, which they never sent and i still get bills. I actually got one today saying my balance was $779.64 but that they have stopped all interest and fees on my account a gave me a payment plan too choose from and they are actually trying to get me to pay this off by paying $350.84 by 11/30/11... they are out of there minds if they think im gonna give out money i never even spent

Anonymous said...

This is THE WORST COMPANY. Avoid it at all costs!

I take full responsibility form debt. I make payments every month, on time and will continue to do so. But this company makes it impossible for you to pay your balance by setting unreasonable interest rates (mine was raised unexpectedly after about 6.5 years) and then then offering rude customer service reps to help you. I haven't run into some of the problems other people talk about but I would believe all of it.

My interest rate is now 23% and I'm not sure if I'll every be able to pay off my balance now. Don't bother with 1st Financial Bank USA. They are amazing scammers!

Anonymous said...

First financial bank is the worst credit card company ever my interest rate is sky high and everytime I turn around I have more and more to pay and have not used this card in months I wouldnt wish this card on my worst enemies! I cannot wait to pay it off so I can finally close it although reading what you guys wrote it seems like there is no end, super scam and ridiculous customer service they don't help they just read to you what your bill already says