Wonga Acting Wronga – Payday Loans Payment Fraud Has Consumers Furious
Wonga’s light-hearted adverts may have you thinking they’re a fun and easy place to borrow from, but fact is, they’re frightfully aggressive in getting payback. There have been a number of complaints by people who have never had Wonga payday loans, yet the fast-cash lender took funds from their bank account or credit card.
Consider these cases of people done wrong by Wonga:
1) Katie was out shopping when her debit card was declined and she wasn’t sure why. She phoned her bank and was told that Wonga had taken five debits against her account even though she did not have any payday loans with them. She contacted Wonga and they agreed the taking was improper and told her to work with her bank for a refund.
When she went into her bank to close the account to prevent further fraud, Katie found that Wonga had cleaned her out – taking a total of £370. They had even taken out five more payments after she had called them to report the fraud!
Katie said, “I really started to panic about getting my money back at this point. Wonga was just no help and it was a struggle to get to even speak to someone. I didn’t know how long it would take.” She had taken out a loan with them a long time prior, but that wasn’t the problem. Someone else’s loan had her credit card details attached and Wonga accepted it without seeing if use of her card was authorised.
2) Jonathon was checking his account online and was shocked to see three pending deductions from Wonga totalling £1,800 even though he had no account or payday loans with them. He contacted his bank – Barclays – and they were able to block the transactions. He reported the fraud and cancelled the card that had been used.
Then three weeks later, Wonga tried again and this time was successful in stealing £1,800 from his account with three £600 transactions. Barclays told Jonathon it would take 5-10 days to get his money back which left him frantic over his mortgage payment. Barclays advised him to “speak to your lender and ask for an extension.”
Wonga refused to comment on how Jonathon’s card information ended up attached to one of their payday loans and said simply “We’re sorry he has been the victim of fraud and we have frozen the accounts related to his cloned debit card.”
3) Piper had £521.29 taken from her account by Wonga despite her never having had a loan with the payday shark. She contacted the police, got a crime number and made repeated calls to Wonga which promised call backs that never happened and refunds that never carried through.
Wonga’s fraud department has no direct phone number or extension that customer service can patch through – the only way to speak to their fraud department, Piper found, was to wait for a call back that never came.
Piper said, “I am told by [Wonga] that they are experiencing a huge amount of fraud at the moment so it appears you do not need to be a customer of theirs in order for them to take money from your bank account.”
4) Sammi saw two hits from Wonga on her Tesco charge account for £518.40 and £513.43. She said, “We never have and never would use Wonga.” She contacted Wonga and found the same thing as Piper – there is no direct line to their fraud office. Even Wonga customer service can’t contact them – they can only email messages and ask them to call people reporting fraud on payday loans.
Sammi also contacted the police and got a crime number but had to work through Tesco for a chargeback as she was not getting return calls from Wonga about their fraudulent taking.
5) Stella had made a one-time payment on her son’s Wonga loan several months prior when she received her credit card statement showing Wonga had hit her with two unauthorised charges of £197 and £98 for payday loans that were not hers.
Wonga habitually saves credit card information from anyone making a payment and attaches it to the same or other payday loans without your consent. It is said there is a verbal warning on their phone system, but this is not adequate.
When a debtor misses a payment, Wonga immediately starts trying to hit any account or card that’s been associated with the account to recover its funds, including ones that were used for one-time payments only!
6) Sally-Ann paid off her sister’s Wonga loan as a favor a couple of months prior. At the petrol station one day her card was refused and she found that Wonga had hit her account with 26 separate unauthorised charges totalling £632. The payday loans firm had completely drained the single-mum’s account and left her desperate.
Sally-Ann said, “I am a single parent with tight finances. Luckily my employer has advanced me some of my wages.” She is still fighting with Wonga who insists she provided her credit card information online and acknowledged she might be hit for ongoing payments. She disagrees saying she provided her number over the phone once and never online.
On Sally-Ann’s case, a Wonga spokesman said, “This is a rare example of our payment systems not operating effectively.”
These cases all required intervention from a consumer advocate before Wonga did the right thing. Also, there is no knowing how many other times Wonga has fraudulently taken funds that were not reported to a media outlet.
Wonga has been hand-slapped for sending out threatening letters to debtors and these are just further examples of the lengths this company will go to in order to get funds it wants. If Wonga continues to hit people’s accounts where the charges aren’t unauthorised, they should be shut down.
Using people’s cards again and again who are not signed debtors is fraud and theft! Just because I have my credit card info on Amazon doesn’t mean it’s okay for them to charge it for other people’s orders, even people I’ve bought gifts for prior. That’s exactly what Wonga is doing when they take from random people to cover payday loans.
OFT needs to clamp down on them and require an authorisation verification before they run any card or debit any account not in the name of the debtor. If you or anyone you know has been hit by Wonga’s fraudulent activities, please alert OFT and the police. We have to work together to push for more reform in this industry to protect ourselves, our friends, family, neighbours and community. Together we have power. As keynote speaker Evan Bailyn says, “When we have a common purpose, we will inevitably find solutions.”
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