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…and no surprise it deals with Citi IT. 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 8/13/21

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, yet nothing changes.


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 most asinine interaction I have had with a bank.  Citibank’s fraud verification process makes absolutely no sense. This is just yet another reason that I rank them at the bottom of the banking pile. Their system seems to be stuck in the 1990’s and they refuse to spend the money required to update 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.

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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Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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 🙂

  19. 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

    • I am beyond glad to have found this article as I am currently going through the same exact bullshit you experienced! The only difference is that my idiot self decided to change my mobile number and add a caller id service on my mobile plan to show my name since that is what one out of the 36 I have spoken to told me was needed, my name to show some association with the phone number provided… wtf? Anyway, today I took it to the extreme and changed my entire mobile phone service because I thought tmobile wasn’t doing something from their end and switched to AT&T come to find out that with my new phone my name shows up as the caller ID and obviously that I am the account holder etc etc. Here I am, after 18 days of literally no access to my funds, borrowing money to get myself and two young children barely by, I call so excited to citibank to finally give them a freaking “Verified” phone number only to hear another fucking “senior fraud bullshit representative” tell me ONCE AGAIN THEY CANNOT USE THIS PHONE NUMBER. I am in shock. What is one to do at this point y’all? The mail they keep claiming is in the mail, probably still hasn’t been “verified” because I’m going on to 3 weeks with this shit !!!

  20. My Citibank story doesn’t compare to yours, but it is worthy of an eyeroll. A couple of years ago I took advantage of one of those 0% balance transfer offers. So I fill out the forms online, everything goes fine and then I receive a fraud alert text message to confirm it is me. Fine.

    Then, after 1:00 AM my cell phone wakes me up. The Citi fraud computer decided to have me confirm a second fraud alert message, just to be sure, at 1 AM.

    Oh, I felt so happy that morning, not. The next day I had to go to a Wells Fargo branch and we all had a great time laughing at Citibank. 🙂

  21. I literally have about 6 stories with Citi crazier and more insane than this one that I can’t be bothered to type it up. Just today they send me an email saying I have not paid my card – you know, the one I closed 5 years ago. They are USELESS

    • Depending what state you live in you may have a state version of a Fair Debt Collection Actices Act violation

      • Is there any version of the FDCPA that offers sanctions against a first party collector? The Federal version does not apply to first party collectors

  22. I had a similar issue and they asked to wait for the 4 digit mailer. I complained and they gave me 500 TYP points which is a damn joke. I was irritated at having charges blocked without any warning so I also filed a CFPB complaint while on the phone with them. The crazy thing is they unblocked my card a few days later before I even got the mailer. Maybe because of the CFPB complaint, idk.

  23. I had a similar issue with Citi. After I provided verbal responses to all their authentication questions, they asked me for my bank account number. I refused to give it and I had to wait for a snail mail of a code. Even so, I’m still working hard to generate as many thank you points as possible.

  24. I have a recurring subscription charge that I put on my DC last year. It declines as fraud every month like clockwork. Same amount, same day of the month. Each time I OK the charge and it finally goes through. The only reason I keep trying is the amount is small and keeps the card active in case it ever becomes useful again.
    The Chase verification sounds like the script for a Phishing expedition. I would have hung up at that point and watched my card very closely.

  25. Citi is too busy giving away 900 MILLION dollars by mistake and then not being able to get it back due to incompetence, so this does not surprise me whatsoever. I use a couple Citi cards but all interactions with them, every single time, has been at least weird, if not infuriating.

  26. That’s hysterical. The thing with Chase is concerning though. Why aren’t they telling Citi, who is not you – to kick rocks? Why is Chase able to verify you to a third party?

  27. I had a similar situation with Citi last year & ended up just cancelling the card in question because they were so awful to deal with. TYP are garbage to me anyway.

  28. Request a cancelation of the card. You will likely be immediately transferred to the retention department in the States. They will fix this much more quickly.
    I used to work for a subsidiary of Citi and this is wholly normal.

  29. I dont see what the issue is. based on my interactions with citi fraud, this is standard procedure, normal run around. !!

  30. Omg! When my premier card was new 6 mos ago I used it for an online purchase-something mundane like a pair of pants. Alert Alert! Fraud! Callled in had same phone number issue-then they called Chase to verify an account with them. How bizarre.

  31. I usually need to take a sedative and a shot of NyQuil before I call Citi. That’s the only way I can tolerate their shenanigans. You are a saint Mark, after all of that I would have been ready to tell them where to go, how to get there, it which exit to take.

    You should have told them that MtM = Miles to Memories AND My time Matters.. and ain’t nobody got time for all of their drama.

      • Citi is far from advanced. They refuse to spend money in upgrading their technology. They have very arrogant workers at the top levels. They are very unfocused on what and to whom they want to be a bank to and who they want as customers. Their arrogance will catch u with them. BTW what used to be a growing consumer bank is now down to less than 700 branches. They keep closing branches instead f trying to improve their way of doing banking.
        These major problems began about 5 years ago when the jerk that runs Citi Technology Inc. decided to outsource the global help desk. You are now dealing with foreigners who read and respond from a script.

  32. Aother bizarre thing about Citi is that when they do encounter an ongoing fraud, they are shockingly uninterested in pursuing it through law enforcement. My wife and I both had our cards skimmed and tracked it down to a particular ATM in a shopping mall. Citi happily reimbursed the $10K total or so in damages, but had absolutely no interest in the ATM at issue, where it was located, etc., so that the skimming no doubt continued. I found that absolutely bizarre.

  33. wow very disappointing fortunately I haven’t had any issues with Citi because rarely use their cards except in the first few months after a sign up since I haven’t had their premier or prestige cards since they improved the earning potential. Weirdest thing I’ve seen is Chase flagging $5.60 charges from Southwest on their Southwest card!! (duhhhh).


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