Monday, March 2, 2009
This year I was in need of a Georgia account for the direct deposit of my social security check and on Feb 4th 2009, I went to their branch at 1439 Roswell Road, Marietta 30062 and spent 20 minutes with Renee Ballew, Senior Personal Banker and opened a checking account with an initial $100 cash deposit and a Money Market with an initial Zero balance which I was going to transfer funds into.
I then went to the Franklin Road Social Security Office and after 2 1/2 hours wait I spent 6 minutes with an employee changing my direct deposit Social Security check to Bank of America.
On Feb 9th I recieved a 5 paragraph letter dated Feb 6th which said in part: "We regret to inform you that the Bank of America has elected to close your account(s) in accordance with the provisions of our Deposit Agreement. . ."
I phoned their customer service number and got a run around with the call center employee saying the same thing but NOT telling me why such a decision was made. I asked for a supervisor but got none.
I then went to the www.consumerist.com web site and got the information from one of their consumer articles on who to contact in the Executive Customer Relations Office and I phoned them at 704 368 5687 and spoke to a Ms. K. Lewis who had to look into it and phone me back.
She phoned back some minutes later and only gave the same non-information that I had both in the letter and from the earlier customer service. She would not provide any information as to 'why' the account was closed, only that it was their right to do so and they did.
I asked about the return of my $100 and was told it would be mailed back to me. I later went to the Social Security Office and after a 2 hour wait I had my direct deposit changed back to the original bank account.
I received a monthly statement from BofA showing that my account was closed with a $0 balance and showing an "Account Closing Transaction on 2/6/09 deducting the $100.
When the check did not show up by Friday 2/27/08 I phoned Bank of America and was transferred three times customer service, to Fraud and finally ID Theft. The latter number was the only one where I have ever had any decent cooperation.
I spoke at length with Ms. Jaye Paulk who was off the line several times speaking with other departments. She was able to tell me that if I went to the Roswell Road branch and saw a Jackie Vassalo and showed her my identification that Ms. Vassalo would then email the 'Compliance' Department so that the funds could be released.
Ms. Paulk was to email Ms. Vassalo the information that I would be there on March 2nd to show her my identification etc.
On March 2nd at 12:30 PM I presented myself at the Roswell Road branch and found Ms. Vassalo and told her I was there to present my ID to her per the email to her of the prior Friday.
Ms. Vassalo said she was unaware of any email and unfamiliar with the purpose of my visit. I again referenced the prior email and she went to the podium and checked her email account and told me she found no such email. I provided my SSN and copy of my statement and she looked at my account and confirmed that the account was in fact closed, something I was already aware of.
She told me several times that she only handled 'quick things' and had other things to do. I asked her to phone the 866 231-5147 number which Ms. Paulk had given me in case there were any questions or problems. Ms. Vassalo was not interested. I left with nothing accomplished.
When I got home I phoned the 866 number and spoke for some time with Ms Paulk who told me that she had in fact sent the email Friday and even read it to me on the phone. I told her that while I did appreciate her attempt to assist me, she being the only B of A employee that was in any way of help, that I was entirely finished with the nonsense which I had gotten from B of A and would be putting in a complaint and posting on various consumer web sites about my negative experience and their repeated failure to return my opening deposit.
I also suggested that Ms. Paulk phone Ms. Vassalo to confirm that I had been there earlier in the day asking about providing my documentation and that she might also wish to inquire as to whether Mr. Vassalo had the incoming email.
I told Ms. Paulk that since I was going to make several complaints about the matter that it would be to her benefit to notate the account that she had in fact sent the email arranging for me to show up on March 2nd to see Ms. Vassalo.
Clearly Ms. Paulk did what she could to resolve the matter, unfortunately the rest of Bank of America seems to have their collective heads up their rear ends.
For the moment I am out the initial deposit of $100. Legally this is called 'conversion' when someone or some firm takes something that does not belong to them and keeps it for themselves.
Documents regarding this matter are found below. I have not bothered to delete account numbers etc. as the accounts are all closed and of no value.
This complaint can also be found on: http://ripoffreport.com/reports/0/430/ripoff0430003.htm
Before my little B of A problem I had assumed that they were just another bank that screwed up now and then, however, in the past few days I have been online looking at an almot unbelieveable number of complaints and complaint sites about Bank of America. If you are my age and wanted to read ALL the B of A complaints I'm sure you would be dead before you even got a good start. Here are just a couple:
Update - as of 3/4/09 11:37 a.m. EST
Recap: Yesterday I created this blog site and also posted on the above Rip Off Report then I mass emailed 15 executives at B of A my complaint and cited both the blog site and consumer site as having the information.
Update: This morning I received a phone call from Ms. Lea Fouther of B of A and the matter was discussed at legnth. She felt the matter had not been well handled and I early in the call, expressed my opinion that even if B of A would be interested in opening an account for me that I would not care to deal with them and I was only interested in obtaining my initial $100 opening deposit back.
Ms. Fouther is arranging to send me the funds back and she was entirely helpful in the matter as was Ms. Paulk at ID Theft. Ms. Fouther has left her phone number with me should I at some time in the future decide to deal with their firm again.
I am leaving this blog site up just in case it will be of benefit to others. In looking at various consumer complaint sites I have found some really incredible posts about customers who have had much worse problems with Bank of America than I had.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
This morning (3/5/09) at 10:48 I got an incoming call from a the B of A Office of the CEO Ken Lewis, from a Matthew Taft (813 805-4873) who referenced my earlier complaint and asked if anyone had explained to me ‘why’ my account was closed. I told him that I had various conversations on the matter with B of A but that aspect of the matter had not been resolved.
He related to me that the issue was my Social Security number and that it seemed to have been used elsewhere and that flagged it as potential fraud and the account was flagged by their Risk Management and the account closed.
My response was that I was not surprised the SSN was used outside the Kennesaw area as I had a condo in Florida (the original bank used for my monthly SSN deposit was in Florida).
He further related that B of A first establishes an account and then subsequently it ‘verifies’ the information using CheckEx to look for bad checks and does further background with the major credit reporting agencies.
I then asked him why I had not received a letter stating which of the 3 major credit reporting firms had provided B of A with the information that caused them to abruptly close the account.
This was clearly an uncomfortable subject and he back tracked a bit claiming that there was a ‘soft’ and a ‘hard’ enquiry and that this was a ‘soft’ one and no letter needed to be sent.
At this point the man was clearly off message and went into a longish story about how they had a problem in California with illegals opening accounts and they had to verify accounts so as to make sure that no illegals opened accounts with B of A, he then went further into the traditional Bank of America ‘circle your wagons’ mode and dropped back on the “the opening agreement you signed states that we can close your account at any time and we did so”.
Times like this you wish you had a tape recorder running just so you could put it online.
Here is what I learned with this B of A ‘admission against interest’ conversation with the Office of the CEO:
The Bank of America is in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act in that they are running credit reports, probably through their Risk Management office and NOT providing the required letters to consumers listing the credit reporting agency(s) providing this negative info which they obviously use in making their determination as to continuing your account or closing it.
This is a violation of the FCRA and the information will be passed on to the appropriate Federal agency as soon as I can determine which office it should be sent to.
Update 3/5/09 6:35 PM
I spoke again to Mr. Taft who told me that he would find out if a credit report had been obtained in this matter and if it had that he would provide the relevant information for me.
I have put a second seperate post on the Rip Off Report, you can see it at: http://ripoffreport.com/reports/0/431/RipOff0431138.htm and it is reproduced below FYI.
Bank Of America Polices are deceptive and anti-consumer, Marietta Georgia
I had a problem with Bank of America which I posted seperately on this forum but I wanted to post here what I learned about the B of A procedures in opening accounts so readers would not have to wade through my own problems to find these 'tips' or warnings. You can find my post by putting into the search block 'Bank of America Georgia' and read the whole post, but here is what I learned.
1) B of A will open your account as you sit there in the office, they will accept and credit your deposit and you will leave thinking you now have an account with them. However, this opening is only tentative and is subject to 'verification' which they do after you have departed. They look at the Chekex system to find any bad checks, they do a background via the major credit bureau(s) and based on any negative or even questionable information, they will immediately close your account and a few days later a letter full of 5 paragraphs of boiler plate will show up. By then now about a week after you thought you had opened an account you may have written checks which will of course now bounce.
2) If you establish an account in an area outside where your credit reports show you as living this will cause their 'Risk Management' department to abruptly close your account and the letter mentioned above is sent to you. They do NOT bother to ask you if you have moved or have a condo in place A and a house in place B or ask for any explination as to why you are applying in NY but your credit report shows an address in Fla, they immediately jump to the conclusion that there is some ID Fraud, close your account and your checks bounce.
3) Bank of America will NOT send you any notification that they used one of the 3 major credit reporting agencies to obtain the negative information that they used in making their decision to close your account (ie: deny you credit). Federal regulations require that any firm who uses such credit reporting agency information in the course of making their decision to deny you credit that they must notify you of the name and address of the agency used in the form of a letter which you can then submit to said agency with your request to have them provide you a copy of the report that they had furnished to B of A.
You may find that you have a receipt for an opening deposit, checks show up, the debit card and pin number arrives but this account you thought you had was closed 2 days after you opened it.
You can find this info at my blog site: http://bankofamericageorgiasucks.blogspot.com