Citibank’s Fraud Verification Process Makes Absolutely No Sense

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Citibank's Fraud Verification

Citibank’s Fraud Verification Process Makes Absolutely No Sense

Wow, so this is maybe the most bizarre interaction I have had with a bank. I was recently approved for the Citi Premier card, after years of planning and missteps I finally had it in hand.  So today I figured I would take my new card out for a ride around town and wear off that new card smell.  I expected to run into a few issues because, you know, new card and all, but what I ran into was entirely next level.  It left me flabbergasted at Citibank’s fraud verification process.

Update 8/17/22:

Reader Jawuan had a good tip after dealing with this. He suggested Googleing Citibank Ethics Department and contact them or call the Executive Resolution office at 605-331-1698. I Googled the phone number and it looks to be good. Worth a try if you are getting nowhere with front line agents.

Update 8/13/21

I am sad, but not surprised, to say that it seems like this process has not been reformed in any meaningful way over the last 6 months like Citi promised. There are still reports shared in the comments of similar situations weekly here.  I have heard of the same things happening to friends as well. My wife still gets fraud alerts for $200 purchases 4-5 months later that require a call in.  But yet her new Custom Cash makes big purchases with no problems right from day one. It makes NO SENSE.  The process is beyond maddening and needs to be changed, Citi has even admitted to that, but nothing has changed yet.


After dropping the kids off at school I headed to Kroger to grab some things and went to check out.  I was excited to use my new Citi Premier card for some 3X earning at the grocery store and the charge was on the larger side, a little over $500.  The card tripped a fraud alert, which wasn’t a big deal and somewhat expected. I didn’t get the text until after I ran the charge under another card but approved it and moved on. I figured it would be all set at the next store and I went ahead with the swipe there, another decline.

On my way home I decided to pick up some McDonald’s and was going to use the Premier card for another opportunity at 3X earning in the restaurants category. The card was once again declined, at this point I was entirely annoyed.  I had verified the previous charges and I still was getting hit with fraud warnings, on a $6 bill.  So I once again moved onto another card (Amex Gold for the fraud free wins around here).  I knew that this meant I needed to call in to get this figured out.  Not a huge deal and should be a quick, yeah that was me, please unlock my card…but what followed was completely asinine.

Citibank's Fraud Verification

Citibank’s Fraud Verification Process Is Bananas

Call Rep 1

After calling in and verifying my card info the Citi rep asked for my phone number so they could send me a verification code via text.  She leaves for a few minutes, comes back and apologizes that the system will not let them text me because the phone number on my account is too new.  The phone number I have had for 10 years and has been on my Citi account for 5 or more years was somehow too new.

That is when she asked if there was another phone number they could text, which makes no sense.  So if I give you another number, not on my account, you can text a verification there for FRAUD!? Anyone see a problem here? This is the opposite of how fraud verification should work.  It should ONLY be the number on your account. I said no, my cell phone is all I have available.

That is when she said that they would have to mail me a code and I could call back in when I received that. My jaw hit the floor at this point.  I had already verified my name, my card number, the CID number, given the correct phone number for my account and I even remembered the secret code word on my Citi account. All of that wasn’t enough to clear their verification process. And, they wouldn’t let me verify the account by some other means. Something along the lines of verifying the numbers of one of my other cards with Citi, my address, my mother’s maiden name etc. etc. You know what EVERY OTHER BANK DOES! I would need to wait a week (or more with USPS these days) to get this code in the mail.

I was beyond words at this point and I just laughed and then hung up. Rude, no doubt, but I figured it was better than losing my temper. Plus, the rep didn’t seem all that on the ball so I figured a HUCA (hang up call again) was in order.

Rep #2

I called back in and ran through the same dog and pony show with the second rep.  After accessing my account he said he needed to kick me up to a senior account specialist for this particular issue. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some notes on my account after my hang up to expedite this.

Citibank's Fraud Verification

Rep #3

So the senior specialist gets on the phone and we go through everything for a 3rd time.  And she starts up on the text verification process and I give her my cell number.  She comes back and says, oh our system won’t allow this because the number is too new 😣. Then she asked if I have house phone or something instead. What? I am not sure how you send a text to a house phone, but I guess maybe it would have been a recorded message? That is still bizarre to me since no other phone number is on my account, so how can I use a random number to verify my account for fraud?  Yet I can’t use my cell phone number that is actually on the 🤬 account.

This is when things went straight into the Twilight Zone.  Here is our conversation (paraphrased):
  • Rep: Do you use any other banks besides Citi?
  • Me: Yes
  • Rep: Which Bank
  • Me: Chase
  • Rep: Is it a debit card or credit card
  • Me: Credit card
  • Rep: Can you give me the card number and I will call Chase to verify it and then call you back.

Yeah, you read that right. Citi was gonna call Chase to verify a card I have with Chase in order to verify my Citi card.  Somehow that makes more sense then texting my phone or asking me personal questions about my Citi account. And, what if my card was really a victim of fraud and my wallet was stolen? The thief may have my Chase card too…so what are we verifying here actually?

She called back a few minutes later and said that Chase verified my account and then proceeded to ask me about my charges.  Once I confirmed they were mine she said my card was unlocked and that I could start using it.

Other Citibank’s Fraud Verification Process Stories

I was chatting about this with my buddies Derrick from Travel on Point(s) and Doug from Travel Rewards Warrior and they have had similar issues.  Derrick had to wait for the verification mailer when he was on vacation and his card stopped working. Doug had to go through the process three separate times and only the mailed card fully unlocked his card.  So this isn’t a one off thing.

Derrick’s wife also had to do a three way call with Citi, and her bank, to verify it was actually her bank account that she made payments with.  Citi wouldn’t apply the payment to her balance until that process was complete. They required this even though it was the same bank account she used to pay her other Citi cards for YEARS.

Lastly, a member of our Diamond Lounge shared that he had to go through something similar to verify the checking account he paid his Citi cards with.  The real kicker was that he was paying them with his CITI checking account. You can’t make this stuff up folks.

Citibank's Fraud Verification

Watch & Listen To This Story

We did an impromptu livestream to tell this story in our Facebook Group yesterday so you can watch it there for more detail. It should be released as a bonus podcast episode too this weekend. So that is an option for you as well.

Final Thoughts

This is the craziest interaction I have ever had with a bank.  Citibank’s fraud verification process makes absolutely no sense. Their system seems to be stuck in the 1990’s and for some reason they refuse to fix it. It is a total disregard for their customer’s experience.  I am all for banks protecting you, and themselves, when they think fraud may happen. But, the way Citi goes about doing it makes absolutely no sense to me and adds unneeded burden on their customers.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. Happened to me today. Just got the premier last week. Trying to book a flight on jetblue when the fraud thing came up. After 1 hour and 3 csr who kept telling me they cant text my phone, i lost it and told them to bring me their supervisor. Be hold, she was finally able to call my phone instead, got me verified and lifted the fraud. But in the end i lost my booking and the flight got a lot more expensive. Unbelievable



  3. I cannot believe at this bank. It took them 3 weeks to get me the card and they locked it the moment I tried to add it to Apple Pay. They’re now saying they must send me a letter to verify my identity. Idiots.

  4. I’m so frustrated. I applied for this card for the bonus only. First, they don’t provide an immediate virtual number and then took two weeks to get me the card. Next, they immediately flag me for trying to add the card to Apple Pay. They refuse to verify me via my cell or my office number, even though they match the application and they don’t care that I can answer all the security questions. Now I have to wait another 7-10 days for a letter so I can actually use the card.

    These comments seem to indicate there’s a good chance I’ll keep getting flagged, even after the letter. At this rate, I can’t imagine how I’ll meet the minimum spend in time if the card shuts down every few days.

    I’m so peeved I wasted one of my 5/24 on this card.

    • Hopefully you get clear sailing after letter confirmation. Unlikely, but I have my fingers crossed for you 😉

  5. 100% this. I closed my citi account 7 years ago because of them constantly flagging legit charges as fraud, but letting illegitimate charges through. Fast forward 7 years, I open a new account hoping it had improved. It has not. If anything it’s gotten worse. Now not only can you not verify things online like any other 21st century bank, now things have to be verified by mail.

  6. Received a text and email from citibank claiming that someone tried to charge on my card. Called the number on the back of my card and gave my name, card number, and security password. They said they needed to send a code via text to another cell phone. Gave them three seperate numbers and none of them cpuld receive the text for various reasons. They then asked for my banking number that I use to pay the accout with. Im at work and dont have it. They then want a credit card number from another company, which I refuse to give. Had five different conversations with who I believe is the same woman using several names. Asked for a supervisor and she hung up on me. She refused to give me any info on my own account. Dont know if its hacked, has other charges, is on or off hold. They wont let me cancel, report it stolen, change number ect. My account is basically beong held hostage right now. I told her that they will receive a payment when they take me to court. Notified my banks not to release payments to the company. It is beyond frustrating and I believe that its all a rouse to collect phone numbers and personal banking information.

  7. This just happened to me! I have been banking with Citibank for over 20 years and have lade numerous purchases in and out of the country!!

    All of a sudden I am an extreme fraud risk! And the service reps are no help at all!! I can’t believe this. It’s nice to know I am not the only person who is experiencing this.

  8. Recently I reported my Premier card was lost and had a new card issued. Prior to this I could charge things without any issue. But this card….not so much. The first time I tried to purchase something over $500 the fraud system activated. I got a text asking me if it was me making the charge, “Text 1 if yes” which I did. then I got a text saying”thank you please reprocess the charge, your card is ready to use” except it was decline again, and we went through this circle three times. Then the 45 minute phone call with the person who wants to know all 16 digits of my other Citi card (which was at home) or wants to call me back on a landline (!) . The card is good to go–she says–and I try again. and…declined again. Another long call and the charge processed. And then I ‘ve been through this process over and over again. Every. Single. Time. I even had one of the reps say she’d “changed the sensitivity on the account” so that the charge would process without trigger and yet, it declined again. Really bad. Going to just give up and move onto cards that actually let me use them.

  9. Hello everyone. I’m dealing with this Fraud Prevention nonsense as well and a blocked account. I don’t even live in the US and I don’t know what else to do or who to call, it is an extremely desperate situation right now. I’m thinking about a lawsuit but I don’t even know where to start. Does anyone here have an advice for me on this matter? Thanks in advance

  10. It is so nice to see that I am not alone in this madness – the whole experience was actually comical. I received by Citi card in the mail today and went to activate it – everything went smoothly. Then I had the audacity to try to add it to Apple Pay. I selected the option “text verification code” and nothing came through. I think selected the option “receive verification code via phone call” and wouldn’t you know it, never got a phone call. With no more options I gave up and resigned myself to calling Citi to verify for Apple Pay. I call Citi and the customer service rep informs me that he has no way to verify my identify (despite me being able to provide literally every piece of information he needs), he cannot send me a verification code via text as their system can’t do it, so I should call back in 3 days. I asked what will be different from now to 3 days time in their ability to verify my identify and I quote his response “I cannot tell you what will be different in 3 days time you will have to ask the person you talk to in 3 days what will be different”. I have honestly never been so baffled on a call with a bank before!

    I hang up the phone and move on with my life, using the physical card to make a 20 dollar purchase in target. I then get a fraud alert, call Citi for the second time in 30 mins and I am told that as well as not being able to use Apple Pay, they have now blocked my physical card and I will have to wait for a letter in the mail to call them back and then verify my identity.

    I now understand what internet banking must have been like when it first started nearly 20 years ago – frustrating, slow and downright comical. Thinking of closing my account on the day I opened it because I don’t want a future of fraud alerts and snail mail as discussed above. Get it together Citi.

  11. This was still happening as of early 2022, although it never used to be that way. I’ve had my Citi card for decades, and I’ve had to deal with fraud activity in years past, and the response was pretty normal, same thing Amex would do, flag the charge, file a dispute, issue a new number. Early this year it was crazy — they refused to issue me a new number, claimed they flagged the charge. A week later, after going on line to check and recheck my account, I see three more of exactly the same fraudulant charges! They didn’t even flag anything. So I called, threw a fit, insisted on new cards, but they wouldn’t issue them unless I gave them the checking account number from which we pay our bill. Needless to say, that wasn’t going to happen, so I filed complaints with the Federal Reserve and Consumer Protection, hit them up on Twitter, FB, et al., and asked why they were allowing their offshore customer reps to refuse to accept fraud disputes, and why they were forcing American citizens into divulging sensitive financial information from other institutions to offshore call centers, and I go an apology from corporate and brand new cards.

    It’s an insane policy, and, as I wrote in my complaints, how on earth can this even be legal?

    Also, they told me American customers have a right to ask for an American CS office & rep, which i do now.

  12. It really hasn’t changed. I just had to go through it by trying to add my CITI to apple pay. If it hadn’t come through the apple wallet, I would have bet money I was a victim of some sorta of elaborate scam. The rep on the phone kept asking me if i wanted to continue and i kept saying that i needed to look up what he was telling me such as websites or phone numbers or charges. The same phone text nonsense still exists. The phone I’ve had for 15+ years doesn’t work all of a sudden for a text message. And then wanting the credit card for my other citi account. I told him that this felt like a scam and he said i can hang up and call back to the phone number on the back of the card and restart the process. In the end, I got added to apple pay but on review of charges that didn’t go through, even though I had reported a charge back in March (now june) and there was another fraud charge i never even knew about, the card got cancelled and now I have to wait for the new one in the main. The whole process feels like a very sophisticated scam but based on everything i’ve been reading, citi just sucks at this. They couldn’t use the app for verification? Like send a code to the app and I read that back to the rep? Or how about letting me know there were charge attempts so I would know that I needed to get a new card.

  13. I’m feeling a bit better by getting a real dimension of howbad Citibank fraud customer care is, looking at this forum and the sharedinformation. I hope information found here would help me to be less bitter, less rudeand less angry by the time of my next interaction with these folks, in case it’d be needed.  It has been more than 40 days since my credit card got lockedbecause of a fraud that was not a fraud at all. It has been around 10 or moreinternational long-distance calls, to talk to inoperant, lost employees.Folks that are following bad processes, using bad tools and pitchingbad customer care scripts. Folks that are totally unable to solve your problem, no matter howdeep and long you disclose private life information tothem, to a point that is insulting and is a violation of your privacy. Actually, It’s disgusting. I’mhaving a headache from the stress and the impotence caused by the interaction I just had over the phone, trying toget them to send once again the so-called letter. As they call it,the last way you have to produce a positive identification of yourself. The previous two requests were never honored and delivered. One that was requested “in loco”, at a Citigold branch,with the intermediation of my Citigold account manager, speaking at the sametime as me with the fraud team “manager”. The account manager used hisinternal Citibank IT credentials to identify himself, trying to help me prove to the Sherlock Holmes at the other side of the line that, indeed,  I was myself, in person, alive, in real-time mode, at the bank’s branch.The second request to get the letter made has been made some10 business days ago, over the phone. I’m considering ending this nightmare by ultimately closingthe Citigold account, the credit card and, last but not least, the bad investmentaccount to try better, sunny days, elsewhere.

    • Fixing formating issues: I’m feeling a bit better by getting a real dimension of howbad Citibank fraud customer care is, looking at this forum and the shared information. I hope information found here would help me to be less bitter, less rude and less angry by the time of my next interaction with these folks, in case it’d be needed. It has been more than 40 days since my credit card got locked because of a fraud that was not a fraud at all. It has been around 10+ international long-distance calls to talk to inoperant, lost employees. Folks that are following bad processes, using bad tools and pitching bad customer care scripts. Folks that are totally unable to solve your problem, no matter how deep and long you disclose private life information to them, to a point that is insulting and is a violation of your privacy. Actually, It’s disgusting. I’m having a headache from the stress and the impotence caused by the interaction I just had over the phone, trying to get them to send once again the so-called letter. As they call it, the last way you have to produce a positive identification of yourself. The previous two requests were never honored and delivered. One that was requested “in loco”, at a Citigold branch, with the intermediation of my Citigold account manager, speaking at the same time as me with the fraud team “manager”. The account manager used his internal Citibank IT credentials to identify himself, trying to help me prove to the Sherlock Holmes at the other side of the line that, indeed, I was myself, in person, alive, in real-time mode, at the bank’s branch. The second request to get the letter made has been made some 10 business days ago, over the phone. I’m considering ending this nightmare by ultimately closing the Citigold account, the credit card and, last but not least, the bad investment account to try better, sunny days, elsewhere.

  14. I have the same issues. Fraud alerts literally twice a week, which takes 45 minutes each call. They done fraud alerts so often, they said they ran out of ways to verify. It’s a full time job. I now have to wait for a letter of verification via pony express (7days) not sure what happens after that, perhaps I have to go with my passport or notorized letter to some high level security office? Who knows, but I’m sooo sick of this.

  15. omg, I thought it was me. Or that Citi was being extra cautious because of increased hacking.

    I just spent an insane part of the afternoon talking to no fewer than four agents, plus a supervisor (magically, one agent knew how to get one on the line, though she really did no more than the others did). I told them that hell no, they could not have more phone or financial-account info from me, they’ve already got my life on a plate, use the info they’ve got. One girl did manage to figure out how to do that, verified purchases, unlocked the account, and naturally, as soon as I go back to to complete a declined purchase for all of $48, because big-time fraudsters like to buy yarn, I guess, it’s locked up again.

    Apparently four of these charming verification letters are on their way to me now.

    I appreciate the retention dept tip above. Will use it, and then will quick-lock and file the card away, and find someone else’s card to use. (Which I did while trying to unbollox the yarn purchase. Pity about the miles, but it’s not like other airlines don’t exist, and besides I don’t fly much anymore anyway. CO2 + pandemic, dontcha know.)

  16. Just went through the same nightmare today, now waiting on my code to come in the mail…Seriously bad process, they couldn’t use either of my phone numbers or my wifes. They also asked if I had a landline they could text to…morons. Thank god I wasn’t traveling. And the customer service reps not speaking english as a first language doesn’t help. I’ve been with Citi since 1990, I’m done. Switching everything over to Chase.

    • We are on the other side of the problem. We do not bank with Citibank/Citi Cards. Someone opened two Citibank accounts in my husband’s name – we received two debit cards in the mail. We called twice to let them know it was identity theft, they said they had closed the accounts and put a flag on his information. Today, there was a hard inquiry on his Experian for a Citi Card CREDIT CARD – tried to call a few different numbers, but impossible to find someone to talk to unless you have an account number to reference.

  17. This is apparently STILL an issue.
    I decided to start using my Citi doublecash (2%) card instead of my Paypal Cashback as recently Citi enabled OAuth data transfer for Mint which is much more convenient (whereas with Paypal I had to constantly have them text me a verification code each time I want to sync transactions).

    Then the madness ensued – while they might seem modern on that side, I had issue after issue getting ahold of anyone as soon as a single $250 transaction flagged on their website and I had to sit on hold for an hour, to finaly talk to a rep who wasn’t very helpful.

    Contrast this with Synchrony, where I got fraud alerts all the time, BUT they would just immediately send me a text with a notification that said “Transaction alert: $xx.xx at , reply Y to confirm N if not you”, and I would just text back Y and they would immediately unblock/allow the charge – I NEVER had to talk to their fraud team (unless I ignored the text message for days and let fraud alerts pile up).

    The person told me everything was resolved, but online it is still showing my account is limited and I can’t update the information.

  18. I never leave comments but this multi million dollar company is literally holding $12 in my bank account hostage the phone number that their app uses to send me VERIFICATION codes and the number I opened the account with can not be used to verify the account that I opened up with that number. Like 9 phones calls with these idiots and there is no way a company this big doesnT have a way to fix this issue. I’m only 37 but in 37 years I have never just seen a company who holds our money not their own but ours and can sit there with a straight face and say there’s nothing we can do call back when you have a verified number? So I get a new phone with a new carrier all in my name and registered and proof and no. It cannot be verified. I gave them my cell , my business number in my name and company which is my actual name, my google voice number I forgot I have since it came out in my name, and my 2 numbers I have listed online in the app and we can’t verify that I’m who I am you have a copy of my ID. So they taken hostage a $12 account, yes it’s 12 dollars just let me have it well this is the account all my federal aid will be deposited in Monday morning lol and I can’t even close the account to stop it. Wait on this letter they said, it took them 49 days to get me my debit card when I opened it up threatening to close the account cause I didn’t make the opening deposit but you can’t access the account without activating the debit card so I couldn’t even transfer money into it WTH…. I have had many still do online banks like chime, and lilli, green dot, etc. never had 1 issue from them never. Change number you might have to call in change it boom see ya. These idiots have lost their minds. Oh I’m
    Gonna access my account you better believe it.
    Citi bank you are the worst banking institution I have ever and will ever deal with

  19. I’m glad you shared this story. This same thing happened to me, but I accused the second rep of trying to commit fraud against me. After getting all your phone numbers and “secret passcode”, why would you ever ask for someone’s credit card number at another bank? Is that not red flag 101?

    • I’ve been dealing with this same situation for almost a year now.ive been in contact with someone in the executive department after all the phone bs they want me to send in proof of identity and proof of address.i sent in a copy of my driver’s license they accepted for my address I’ve sent in a copy of my rental agreement for my home.ive sent in documents from usps.court documents you name it I’ve sent it they say it has to be a utility bill in my name with my the moment I’m living with family because of a hurricane in Louisiana and not being able to pay my bills because of my account being frozen.ive even lost a a single father of two kids.but since I live with family all the utility are in there I look on citibank website to see what’s a verified utility bill and one of them was a landline I set up a landline phone.cost me $68 that I don’t have.i get my invoice from phone company and send it to citibank.12 days later I’m sorry Mr chambless but we don’t accept landline phone service as a utility bill.i told them your online terms and conditions say otherwise.he said I’m sorry I can’t help you.i explain I live with family I can’t get any other utility bills in my name at the moment and he says I’m sorry I can’t help account was froze February 13,2021.
      still one full year later I’m still fighting to get into my account.i have $3,135.34 in my account I can’t touch.i even get a text message every single night saying my account balance and my available balance……someone please help me they can’t keep doing this to me.ive sent them court documents,federal documents,documents from usps all stating my name and address but citibank keeps denying everything I send in.HELP ME PLEASE.

      • William I am sorry to hear this. I would try reaching out to your state rep and see if they can help. You could also file a CFPB complaint against Citi Lastly, I would write to the office of Citi’s CEO. Sometimes that gets an executive team member to reach out. Hopefully one of the three things gets you your money back.

  20. I am so sorry there are SO MANY others who have shared my Citi nightmare…but at least I know I am not alone. My story is pretty similar – fraud alert (that no one can explain the reason for…), can’t use the card, 14 calls to Citi (no, not exaggerating). On hold a total of 85 minutes. Told that they “could not verify” my phone # – I’ve had it for 20+ years. Wanted the number from another of my credit cards, I refused. Escalated this through executive emails found on Elliot Advocacy site – still no resolution. I can’t even close the stupid card because I can’t prove it’s my account. This company could learn from Discover – the best credit card company I have ever done business with.

    • This is crazy, but it seems to have worked. I went on to my account on the Citi website, entered my cell phone as my home phone. (Leaving existing cell phone number alone like it’s always been.) The NEXT day, all restrictions removed and I can use my card. Perhaps a coincidence, but I’ll take it.

    • Yes – I have been calling for 3 days now and have always been on hold ….sometimes for an hour! Still no Citi representative to help. Citi Fraud department is a big Fraud!

  21. Wow, I thought it was just me. I am currently travelling, have one of their AmericanAirlines cards which obviously travel is the main purpose. Travel to a few places internationally and no problem. Tried to make a purchase for $20 and it triggered a fraud alert. Called them and the same story. The number I used to apply for my card to which they send me a code during the application process they said they couldn’t text me as they couldn’t verify it was on my name. I am now waiting for a letter to arrive at home back in the US, while I am still abroad. I am hoping the letter has a code or something to help me unlock the card. I have had the card less than a month.

  22. Yup can’t believe all the stories Ive read. Same thing, got a new cc w citi to do a balance transfer. I recently got a new phone so wanted to add it to my Apple
    Pay as all my other cards are and came to the same issue. I asked to speak to supervisor bc I couldn’t understand the 1st rep clearly. Got asked same questions, gave them couple siblings numbers and they said those wouldn’t work. I asked if I could go to a branch to verify my self and they said no bc they don’t have access to unlock the fraud process or some bs like that. Already waited like a month for my card bc they never sent the first one and has to request another so this is so inconvenient. Will call them again tomorrow to see if they can verify through a different credit card. Or maybe try telling them I want to cancel my card trick and see if they can transfer me to someone that can expedite the process.

  23. Worst experience!!! I got a fraud alert letter in the mail right after I applied, before i even had the card in hand. I threw letter away because I thought it was junk or a scam (don’t do that because fraud dept needs it to verify your identity, or so they say, we never got that far.) I did get out of one rep that they use a 3rd party to verify phone numbers on new accounts and that my phone number didn’t have a name attached so that’s why they were unable to verify. I even checked with Verizon and my number is absolutely registered to me. Now it is a new number to me as of a few months ago so my conclusion is that that the 3rd party data that Citi uses is a few months behind and this recency gap is to blame. Thank you all for sharing!

    • Interesting on the 3rd party stuff. That could be the cause of all of this. That sucks that you had an issue before you even had the card. That should never happen…hopefully you were able to get it handled.

  24. Wow this really pisses me off, I’ve had the same exact run around with foreign bank tellers over the phone and I can hear dogs barking in the background. Like they’re at their house, I was almost afraid to give him my card number. After the same exact stuff happened to me and 4 hours later they basically told me that my new account is frozen until I get that code in the mail, I just transferred all my money there, I have a daughter and I have no gas in my car what am I supposed to do for a week and a half without money to get to work because they took it all and held it. I’m literally ready to walk to the bank and take my money back whether they like it or not even if I have to use Force, they have a name for that I think it’s called a bank robb… No, but I’m screwed because of them, I can’t put food on my table because my money has been taken

  25. Exact same shit happen to me yesterday!!! First they took almost 1 month to have my new card delivered (lost one time then ship replacement card) then locked my card at my 2nd purchase. Citi’s service and process is just incredible!!! Thanks Mark to share your experience, need to go back to fight with them to unlock the card….

    • I had to call to get a new card sent when we signed up for the Custom Cash too since we never got it after almost 4 weeks.

  26. I am literally sick to my stomach and I am the most peaceful person alive yet this experience talking to these foreign citizens bank reps have made me g insane. I had a transfer to my account of $20,000. I tried to wire it to another account and they said they had to verify me. Even though I have my social my drivers license account number and debit card. They said they needed to send a text to a phone to verify e. I gave them the same exact phone that I use when I log into the online site where they call and give a code which u have to enter to further access the system. It always works and I always get in. She says the system will not allow them to use that number or some bullshit. This is now the third rep. The first one I demanded a supervisor and she couldn’t find one, said someone would call back and never did. Then they tried to verify me with old addresses and cars I had and I answered all correctly and she still said no. This money need to go to my girlfriends grandma who has hospital bills and I’m just sick, sick. I can’t even go to the branch as I am in North Carolina. I guess I could take it out the atm but it would take almost 14 days to withdraw. How the fuck they get away with this.

    • I hope this girlfriend is not someone on the internet because they use hospital bills as a way to scam you out of money if it’s a girlfriend you can’t see or touch do not send money and why are you paying a girlfriends grandmas hospital bills this sounds suspicious sorry just looking out for you

  27. I’m very grateful for the conversation that Mark has initiated, and for all of the interchange above.

    I have been contemplating leaving Citi, after 25 years of membership, largely for the reasons you mention. And, I’m not sure which bank I should consider transitioning to: I find it somewhat daunting to undertake, amidst all of the other changes at this time.

    But I have found that Citi’s reliance on an overly-sensitized automated fraud-alert infrastructure is paralyzing and has even put me in a few precarious situations. Such jeopardy seems antithetical to a bank’s primary purpose.

    Each time I have traveled, for instance, even en route to visit family or take care of a loved one (even though I do due diligence and contact them a week in advance to provide my geolocation and dates) I inevitably have my cards shut down. Not once during the trip, but every single day. No matter how many times I spend 3-6 hours on the phone with Citi (escalating it up, as so many have mentioned), no matter how many times they confirm that I did indeed pre-notify about my travel and assure me that the “flag” has been removed and I can use my card again, no sooner do I awake the next morning than my card is shut down again. I can’t eat breakfast, pay for my hotel or rental car, sometimes I will spend an entire 48 hour trip unable to pay for a meal (esp. these days when cash isn’t always accepted) or know if I will be able to get home. And I work at a major university, never pay bills late, earn a decent salary, etc.

    It’s deeply demoralizing and unnecessarily anxiety-inducing.

    I think that the closure of local branches has also compounded this problem: there used to be someone who felt accountable for rectifying such situations or at the very least for problem-solving for future fraud issues and travel plans.

    I’d be immensely grateful if someone could recommend a bank that does not suffer from such an automated state of affairs. I’m based in Boston, and would also appreciate any suggestions for a bank that has a branch in the vicinity (or in Massachusetts).

    • Sorry to hear it Isla. It is a frustrating, and sometimes embarrassing situation to deal with. As far as fraud warnings go I think American Express is the best for that. Their program is pretty good too but they are not as widely accepted. Chase is another great option for full banking. They have some good cards and I think plenty of branches in your area. Hope that helps.

  28. I just had the same thing happen to me. Admittedly, I was purchasing something expensive at Tiffany with my AAdantage Executive card. They wouldn’t send a text to my phone, they said that they would NEED TO CALL MY MOM!! (I am 52 and haven’t lived with her in over 30 years) She’s not on my account. Luckily she was able to answer the call and I got the code but they still didn’t clear the account. When I tried to use it again it was declined. I used my chase sapphire which was approved immediately.

    • Sorry to hear that. It is frustrating, annoying and embarrassing when it happens. And then to jump through all the hoops and still get denied is the worst!

    • Waiting for one now and wondering the same. My account got a fraud block on it on my first attempt at a transaction.

    • I just got the pointless “verification letter” after getting the initial fraud alert on December 23. The letter is completely useless. It gives you a phone number to call. You’ll get another barely-English-speaking idiot with a script, who will tell you that your phone number can’t be verified. I ‘ve never, in all of my 60+ years on this planet, dealt with a company as obnoxious and stress-inducing as CitiBank. I can’t even close the stupid account because I can’t prove that it’s MY account.

  29. Just had this issue myself and found this site through google while I was on hold….I was transferred to a supervisor who could barely speak English…at that point I asked for a person in the United States. After a 10 minute hold I got to talk to someone in the US. She asked for a four digit code on the letter…it didn’t have one. She asked if I had another other Citibank cards. I said yes and she was able to verify my identity through my other card, as it had a code word set up. I told her flat out that their overseas call center sounds like a giant phishing operation. Hopefully my card is truly unlocked…I just got it a couple of weeks ago and have not used it yet.

  30. Could be a LOT worse!!
    I too have had my card declined by Citi when I am traveling and tried to buy a $30 dinner etc. because I forgot to tell them I was going out of state.
    Getting declined and then getting a call from their fraud department may be a pain, but, far worse is what they allowed over the last few weeks!!
    I am assuming this is partially due to their large data breach recently , but, they allowed over $60,000 worth of fraudulent charges to my three cards i have not used in 2 years !!!! I had a zero Balance and then in days, it appears they allowed convenience checks to be cashed (or some other scam). I filed a case with the police department, but this is beyond insane!
    After hours and thousands of dollars of my time, I still am not sure what, if anything (it appears nothing), is being done to address this!! When I call Citi , I get bounced all over and nobody takes responsibility

  31. I am in this same boat right now. I ordered a Citi AAdvantage card to use on my upcoming (2 days from now) trip to Montana. I was so excited! I tried to add my newly activated card to my samsung watch after using it on gas then headed to the grocery store. I got an alert that I needed to call them to add the card to my watch so that’s what I did. The guy I spoke with said he needed to call me back to verify, I said ok, gave him the number and he never called back. No big deal I thought. I’ll call back an finish when I get home. NO SUCH LUCK! Tried to run the card for a $23 grocery purchase and declined. So I called back and that when they told me they needed to verify me using a home phone number. I explained I dont have one nor is there one associated with my card. That is when they said I would have to verify using a letter in the mail in 5-7 days. I SNAPPED. I got this card specifically to use on this trip. I explained that and they asked if they could call my work and if someone was there to verify me. IT WAS 8:30 pm and I work in a 9-5 office. I asked if I could call back tomorrow when I was at work. Yes they assured me. Fast forward to today. NO SUCH LUCK AGAIN! I give them my work number and they said it can be verifyed. I couldn’t handle my anger anymore and yelled at the guy and asked for a supervisor. Explained the whole thing over again and same result. Needless to say I want to stick the card so far up their ass sadly companies don’t have them. If I had known about this issue I wouldnt have ever signed up with them. I hate using cards because I have an irrational fear of being declined. I will now have a panic attack everytime I use this card. THANKS CITI.

  32. Worst process of CIti bank to stop fraudulent check deposit.
    I wrote to check to a handyman and deposited check using online system, check was accepted and money was withdrawn from my non citi bank account(thanks no citi account), after 10 days handyman bank account was frozen and he can’t operate his account saying they check you deposited was stolen check, poor guy texted me, so I called him back and send him pics of front and back check print from my bank account the day they withdrawn fund.. poor guy at the citi bank and associate was not able to provide me name of the person or what kind of process they have to alert for such fraud.. I called my bank and they provided all the details and negative about any stolen check or blah blah.. Poor guy walk to my bank and request bank to write letter that check I wrote to him is valid .. Citi called me to verify that if I wrote that check.. I asked person what makes you think that check was fraud or was stolen, no answer.. Such a waste of time for me and the person who has account with Citibank.

  33. I got a letter in the mail from Citibank stating the account I opened with them has unusual activity on it and they need to speak with me to verify some things. Here’s the kicker… I don’t have a Citibank account at all AND whomever opened it used my maiden name and not my legal name. So yall wanna talk about fraud? There you go smh.

  34. Yes! Happened to me too! Citi is so infuriating! When i got my Prestige card, I paid for $25 bill at a restaurant and it didn’t work. Tried later somewhere else, and ditto.

    Call Citi, lots of back and forth, and finally they say, “We have to call your sister to give her a code that you can use to activate your card”

    My sister? How did they know she is my sister? How did they have her contact info? Why is it my sister’s responsibility to help me with my cards? What if we were not on speaking terms, etc?

    Every new Citi card seems to have a fraud warning kick in the first time I use it, it’s maddening. If I were not just chasing bonuses, I would have given up on them.

    • Same to me!!!!!, In my case is my brothers phone number that works. Citi Fraud is a non sense, apparently everyone else have more authority over an account than the actual owner. Unbelievable!

    • My husband is having this problem now but he was just approved for the card. He waited almost 3 weeks and still no card. He finally called and went through the same “verification” process that made no sense and hung up 3 times. It 100% sounds like a scam call when talking to a citi rep. His number that he used for the account is in my name because of our family plan. Due to it not being in his name they refused to send the code. Then they asked for a code work for the question where is your fav place to vaca. He signed up for the card using an invitation from the mail. He never set a question or even set up the account yet because there was no card yet. They kept telling him though the word he chose started with a W. Right so we just kept telling out any words starting with a W. All of that got him no where and a week later he still has no card and still has not recieved this “letter” with instructions on how to verify … So annoyed and just wish we applied for the Amex card instead!

  35. Yes, Citi IT & customer service is pretty dreadful

    You actually gave a Citi rep you Chase account info? That’s a hard pass from me.

  36. Everything above sounds awful, condolences to all. After a recent snafu with my college age daughter’s new Citi account being declined, I’ve started making payments before charging, at least at the beginning. And then if I have a substantial charge, I make a payment immediately before I try to charge much else. I’m not sure if this is making a difference, but I think it might be.

  37. The same thing happened to my fiance and I last night. We were trying to get my daughter’s student visa. The initial IHS charge was declined. They texted and my fiance approved it but he still had to call. They went through a few things, she approved it and the charge went through. Then when it came time to pay the actual visa the charge was declined again. This time when my fiance called it was the exact same thing that you describe. What is a phone number we can use to verify? He gave them his. They said no that won’t work. He gave them mine as I am a user on the account, they said that won’t work. They then asked for a home phone number, we don’t have one. She then asked if we had another Citi account. We said no. She said then we will have to send you a letter. My fiance said absolutely not. He told her this is our every day card and it is imperative for business travel and she did not care. He proceeded to call back no less than 15 times and they all said the exact same thing. We ended up using our Hilton Honors Amex for the 2nd charge and had no problems whatsoever. He has already applied for a different card and says that this one will go in the garbage. Especially since my daughter and I are getting ready to go to the UK to take her to University. I cannot have this type of thing happening every time I try to purchase something in London or Scotland. Ridiculous. Fix it!

    • I know, same happened to me. I’m trying to troubleshoot the possible issue, may I ask the following:

      1) How long have you had your card for?
      2) Was there any recent changes on your personal information thru the app or by phone like phone number or address?
      3) How long have you had your phone number?
      4) How old is your oldest card reported on your credit bureau? (I heard Chase and Citi verify phone number listed on the credit report to match the name of the customer)

      Thank you!

  38. Thank you for writing this. I have felt like I’m absolutely out of my mind. Call #4 for me, I ask what they do to verify someone with no phone at all, rep says they have other procedures but they can’t use that for me. When I start saying that they are straight-up thieves and crooks, she hangs up on me. I am going to have to figure out how to take legal measures. They are stealing from their customers. So glad I found this forum.

    • Same here, from my experience as a customer if you don’t have any other Citi bank account they can verify with, they will ask you to wait for a letter! C’mon Citi its 21st Century!

      • This exact same thing happened to me. Same experience word for word. Now, when I call the help number, I can’t get to a representative. I don’t know what to do!

  39. Oh my word, I’m so glad I found this web page. I’ve been battling with Citi for 2 days. Same thing that everyone has mentioned. They cannot verify my identify, I’ve been with them for 40 years! What the heck???? So after numerous calls and asking for a “manager” I’m now waiting for my secret letter through the mail. What a scam, the fraudsters have more lucking getting my information than I do. What is the point of having secret code words, numbers on my account, etc? Not a happy customer but they don’t care.

      • Yes, I’m grateful to Mark for posting this too. My friend’s money is all tied up due to Citibank not recognizing some of his information, so they froze his account after he tried to make a transfer, and did not allow the transfer to go through. This happened on Tuesday 7/20/21 and he is still waiting for his code by mail. He’s completely broke with no access to the cash that he needs immediately. He has no other credit cards besides his debit card. I cannot believe this is even legal to withhold a customer’s money like this and leave them barren. Has anyone found a work-around to this yet? Thanks.

        • No workaround outside of waiting for the letter in the email. It’s best to have a back up card for emergencies. I did receive my letter in the mail and finally got through, felt like a miracle! Turns out there was someone trying to bill my account for online store purchases. Citi blocked the charges as something didn’t add up, and for that I am grateful. I just don’t understand the verification process. I waited two weeks for my letter and subsequent new card. Seems to me there should be a way to verify the cardmember, but what do I know. Now I’m paranoid to use my card online. I use virtual numbers only, which is what I did 90% of the time anyway and still got hacked. Oh well.

  40. Anyone has a solution for the text messages? Citi is unable to send me a code to my phone number since they cannot verify it.

    • No idea, but they are telling me the exact same thing. I asked what does “verify” mean. They couldn’t tell me. I suppose it’s a secret.

      • At first I thought they match it with the credit report but its not possible because my all 3 credit bureau has my phone on it, with the IRS? they also have my number.
        My only guess is, correct me if I’m wrong, but maybe they need a phone number on a Citi Account for certain amount of time so then Citi can validate it and send the codes to verify identity, cause other codes like 2-step verification works fine, its only with the codes thru a phone call.

  41. Same thing happened to me however my alert fraud was triggered after I activate the new AAdvantage card for online access, had to wait for the freacking letter!!!! at this point I dont know why would they make us create a security word lol

        • It hasn’t been an issue on my card but my wife has been having similar issues with her newer card now.

          • So my guess is this happen whenever someone gets a new card or account with them, doesn’t matter if you have had an account already. My brother has a Citi checking and Citi rewards credit card for almost 2 years with them, but when he got the new Citi custom card he had a fraud alert when he tried to add his card to ApplePay, and he had to call them in order to verify him, the live rep was not able to send a code to his phone number he have had for almost 2 years with them, thankfully they verified him using his other Citi credit card otherwise he would have had to wait for the damn letter. Unbelievable!

  42. I just went through the same situation. I called 3 times and when the 3rd person couldn’t help me, I escalated the call to a supervisor. The supervisor wanted to call my place of employment to very my information, I was like, wait what? She finally asked me about other credit cards/banks which I do have. She asked me for my credit card # and customer service # for that credit card, I almost didn’t do it because I kind of felt like maybe this was a huge scam. After a month of this I just gave it to her. She placed me on hold, came back and said she was able to verify me. She claims I will not have this problem again as they will be able to use my cell ph# next time but somehow I don’t believe her.

  43. Citi Bank needs to overhaul their fraud department. Over ten years with them and they can’t verify over the phone. Secret word didn’t work and the only number on file didn’t work , so I was told I must wait till mail. Closed my cards while I was traveling on vacation on day 1 of 5 days. I blame Belinda and the only manager in all of Texas in the fraud department, acting like they own this place, overly rude

  44. Same thing happened to me. I just don’t see why some random phone number is more secure than my own phone number on file.

  45. Is there any good reason to keep the Premier card anymore? Because I use almost exclusively for entertainment bonus spend. That is going away. so why should I keep it?

  46. I knew where this was going. What is interesting to me is that Citi had to actually call Chase without you on the line. I was always under the impression they could independently verify your Chase acct either thru CR or back end access. I agree Citi’s FAs are legendary. But if you don’t like it, you can take your business elsewhere. Every bank has pros and cons.

    • And P.S. This system makes a ton of sense. The fact that you don’t like it doesn’t make it stupid. Phone numbers are not easily hacked (they can tell if it’s a fake/cell/home and look up owner details on LN), a thief might have your chase card but odds are they don’t, they almost certainly won’t know your checking acct no, and a thief is highly unlikely to intercept your mail. Banks have actually sent verification codes to the cardholder’s spouse or parent and had the cardholder read them back (presumably after contacting the next of kin while on the phone).

      • Talk about loading up on logic fallacies. No, their system really makes no sense and Mark has stated clear reasons for what he thinks is flawed. And please, “take your business elsewhere” and “every bank has pros and cons” are sooo Ergo Decedo.

      • Everything you stated is factually wrong. If someone “SIM swaps” your smartphone, then can easily assume your identity. I rate your comments total BS!

  47. I am having the WORST time trying to get them to take fraud charges off my account. It’s been 3 months and countless phone calls. I’m not surprised by this nonsense.

    • Sorry to hear that Jill. That is beyond frustrating when you can’t find anyone that knows how to help.

  48. I went through a similar nonsensical procedure with CapitalOne. After a fraud alert I called in and was told my cell phone number could not be “verified” in order to receive verification code by text. This is even after uploading a copy of my SIN card and drivers license through a secured link. In the end, I couldn’t receive the text message and they wouldn’t offer any other alternatives so I had to cancel the card. Will never do business with CapitalOne again.

    • Pure craziness that they couldn’t come up with other options. I can never get Capital One to approve me so I don’t have to worry about them 🙂

  49. Anybody try the large purchases alert “Tell us about your next big purchase to avoid any disruptions at checkout?” Don’t bother! That doesn’t work! Try a second time, file the alert, call to confirm, be assured purchase will go through………..Haha, jokes on me. Nope, still doesn’t work