Monday, April 30, 2007

Another Certegy Nightmare

Another reader writes to tell me about his experience with Certegy:

"I have never heard of this company and neither has our bank that we have the account with.\We never had this problem before. U cant even get a live person on line and if u press 2 it just hangs up on you! Theyre not even open weeknd after 1pm central time so u are left just hanging all weekend wondering whose got your identity and who the heck thinks u are bad credit risk -do they have u confused with someone else of same name or what and have they accessed your bank acct. or what.....its very very upsetting and this happened to me on satur at local grocery store Albertsons and I was so so embarrassed I had more than enough money ck was only 69 dollars and i have well over 1000. in there so how the heck could this happen we dont owe anyone and I will never go to that Albertson grocery again why u dont even know if they entered correct info and they dont want to explain a dam thing all weekend u worrry and grandkids were with me they opened chips b4 i paid and course ck was not accepted they wanted cash for opened chips and i didnt have cash on me-total humiliation and embarrassment....We dont owe anyone anything We have good credit ....manager at albertsons grocery response is nonchalant and what happened to customer service they just lost a customer and i will tell everyone about this and still i cant get a live person on the phone from cetergy-my wife and i are just livid-it screwed up entire weekend for us ....i still dont know what happened and why we were blackballed."

Later, he added:

"Well I wrote this a.m. saying we too had been victims of certegy and never could figure out why our check was singled out and blackballed at albertsons grocery and finally got a live person at certegy and they said it fit certain perameters or some such gobbly gook and talked in circles and after it was all said and done they wouldnt tell me the perameter that was causing our check to be blackballed in the first place when theyr'e was plenty of money available in our account. check was only $64.25 can u believe that! Really ridiculous they told me go back in store and theyll now accept check- i said no that was saturday and u were closed and i will never go in albertsons again!! How can they get away with crap like this and what are the certain perameters that kept them from accepting my check and if they dont accept it why cant u reach someone day of check transaction so that it can be resolved they had us scared to write a check rest of weekend at ANY STORE and afraid of IDENTITY FRAUD too and humiliated and they should have to pay for their mistakes I SAY LIST ALL STORES THAT USE THEIR SERVICE and BOYCOTT THOSE STORES AN CONTACT EACH BY MAIL ADVISING WHY U ARE BOYCOTTING THEM!

I see other person had it happen at sears and other person had it happen at bed and bath whom else do these idiots use?"

(To answer that last question: look to the right of this page and click "Companies Using Certegy.")

Friday, April 20, 2007

Corporate Scum

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for the American dream and getting paid well for an honest day's work. But the CEO of the company that now owns Certegy raked in a whopping $12.8 million in salary and bonuses last year. That's $102 per MINUTE, assuming he never left work early, took a sick day or had a vacation.

Meanwhile, thanks to this guy's "hard work," millions of normal Americans can't even buy groceries at Wal-Mart, even with a check that's covered by ample funds. Funds which probably took at least a week to earn.

And look who our system protects.

If you earned as much as FIS CEO Lee Kennedy, you'd have enough money for a month's worth of groceries after only five minutes of work. After one hour, you could buy a state-of-the-art computer system. After four hours, you could buy a very good vehicle. In one day, a luxury motor home. In one week, a four-bedroom house. In three weeks to a month, you could purchase a small island off the coast of Maine. And I'm not including interest earnings or investments in my figures.

They gave him over $25,000 in "country club dues" alone.

Meanwhile, some 25% of adults over the age of 26 still live with their parents because their salaries aren't enough to cover the cost of an apartment. I once knew a public school teacher who was on welfare.

I'd really like to know exactly what kind of service someone can provide that's worth $102 a minute. Even if I had unlimited funds, I'd never pay anyone that kind of money for any service, simply on principle. I'd rather pay a reasonable rate and give the rest of the money to charity.

And look who our system protects.

These people are obscenely wealthy, and they're getting their riches by screwing over the rest of us. I've got no qualms with someone like Bill Gates, who created a product for which there is a huge demand, or Oprah, who provides services for people with her various media outlets. A person can choose whether to buy Windows or O Magazine. But I've got a BIG problem with people who make their fortunes by making the lives of others more difficult.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Reader Story: Checks Declined at Sears & Lowe's

Robin writes:

"We have had 2 checks declined in the last 5 days. One at Sears and the other today at Lowe's. Both times we were given CODE 2 as the reason. We have banked at the same Credit Union for over 22 years. NEVER have we had this happen before. I spoke with a woman who told me we have NO 'marks against us', but could not tell me WHY then the check ($54.64) could not be accepted at Lowe's. EMBARRASSING? YOU got it!

The only thing different in our spending/banking recently has been that our checks now have 5 digits. (10256) Could this be a problem with Certegy? I know that along the bottom of the checks were the numbers are...the check number comes up without the 1 on the front. Could that be a problem for Certegy???

OHHHHHHH going to CASH again!!!!! LOL"

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Companies Using Certegy

Unfortunately for Americans, most major retailers use the trainwreck of a verification system that is Certegy. This list will be updated as my research continues. I'd love to organize a boycott on all of them, but in all honesty that would be pretty difficult for many people.

It's important to understand that the employees of a store don't control whether your check is authorized by Certegy. However, they DO control whether your check is actually accepted. A check can be declined by Certegy and, in some cases, a store may still accept it. (Not often, though.)

Also, many store managers will tell you "it's not our fault, we have no control over it." Not true. A retailer does have the choice whether to use Certegy or not! Too bad so many of them are making the wrong choice...

Best Buy
Home Depot
Bed, Bath & Beyond
Babies 'R Us
Piggly Wiggly
Land's End
TJ Max
Circuit City
Helzberg Diamonds
Sally's Beauty Supply
Game Stop
Radio Shack
Garden Ridge
Cingular Wireless
Electronics Boutique
Game Crazy
Price Chopper
Famous Footwear
Shoe Carnival
Holiday Gas Stations
Circle K
The Body Shop
Barnes & Noble
Raymour & Flanigan
Food Lion

According to a Certegy employee, they also service "most casinos."

Friday, April 13, 2007

Certegy Reason Codes

Certegy uses "Reason Codes" as a way to identify why certain transactions are denied. The codes are indicated on the slip you're given when a check is refused. Figuring out the meaning of these codes is about as easy as milking a bull. Certegy customer service representatives often refuse to explain what these codes mean, or at best give vague and nonsensical answers. However, based on the anecdotes of many people, I'm developing this list of possible explanations for each known code number. It's basically a compilation of the explanations people have gotten for each code.

I will update this list periodically as I get more details.

Reason Code 1: Negative information on file for the writer of the check; or writer of check may have bounced checks in the past; or the writer of the check needs to call Certegy to give them "more information."

Reason Code 2: "Some other reason for denial" (which Certegy usually won't disclose, other than to say that it's not that you have a bad check history). One verified example: the person lacked a previous history of writing checks. Code 2 seems to be the most common one.

Reason Code 3: Appears to mean that the check "seems risky."

Reason Code 8: Unknown. Possibly having something to do with writing more than one check to the same merchant in a short period of time.

I have not identified any other reason codes - yet.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Certegy: THEY Are the Fraud - Not You!

Bet you're pissed. Bet you're ready to scream. I'll bet, if you found this blog, you're having problems with a company called Certegy.

You're not alone.

A quick web search reveals thousands of hits and testimonials from people who have had companies refuse to cash legitimate checks or accept checks for payment, all thanks to Certegy's "services." Dozens of major companies - Wal-Mart, Staples, major grocery chains, nationwide clothing stores, even - use Certegy to "verify" checks and prevent what Certegy calls "fraud."

The problem is, a very large proportion of the denials Certegy puts through are just plain wrong. People have had checks denied because they wrote what Certegy thought was "too many checks," "too much money," or "at too many different places." Understand that none of this has anything to do with whether a check is forged or whether there's enough money in an account to cover it.

And understand that once you're on their list, you don't have much recourse. Even when you call the number they give you, their answers are vague and meaningless, often not making sense at all. When they do admit they're in error, you often still cannot cash or write a check; to do so you must join their "gold" membership by giving them additional information. Essentially, a third-party company claims that you must have its permission to do business with a retailer.

This is not acceptable.

I want this company to own up to the fact that its "algorithms" for determining fraud and check validity are deeply flawed. I want the retailers that use this service to see that they are losing a huge amount of money and many, many customers by employing a service that is essentially fraudulent. I want to get the word out and get the ball rolling.

As you can see, this blog is in its infancy. To really get it started, I need your stories. Send me an email with your "Screwed Over by Certegy" story, and I'll post it here. I won't post your email address or name or anything, unless you tell me to. Just let me know your general geographic location, the store where you had the problem, and (if you called) what the Certegy people told you.

Also, if you've got it, please include the "Reason Code" on the Certegy slip you were given. It's time for us to figure out just what those codes mean. I intend to post a guide to those codes right on the front page of this blog, so confused and angry consumers can begin to decipher their meaning. It's simply not okay for Certegy to refuse such information to people who've been screwed over by their fraudulent activities.

Let's expose these bastards. Please, email me at (Yes, I know it's not a live link. I'm working on that. Short version: I have a browser incompatible with Blogger's new post editor. Just copy and paste the address.)