Bank of America’s Fraud Department Takes a Holiday

Reader Jessica is clearly a red-blooded American. She demands service, and above all, LABOR, from her fellow countrymen and -women, even on national holidays, especially on Labor Day.

Staggering about San Francisco on the holiday morning with a hangover headache that only a trip to the ATM could cure, presumably to buy more tonic for her gin, Jessica left her card in the machine. Upon her return, it was gone. Way to go, rummy!

But when she tried to contact the bank’s customer service hotline, to block any unauthorized use of the card, she discovered that banks actually DO give their employees time off.

As Jessica suggests, reporting lost or stolen cards is an essential function that banks shouldn’t shut down, even on holidays. And they should offer an option to report cards on their website. And Jessica would have slept better that night, and everyone would have been happy.

Her e-mail after the jump.

So I call the customer service number and hear this harrowing message:

“We’re sorry, our customer service center is closed for the holiday so our employees can be with their families. Please call back tomorrow. *click*”

Uh? CRAP. Surely this cannot be..this is a major bank that prides itself on fraud and security protection for their customers. Right? Right?! I poke through the phone menu to try to find some sort of automated “lost card” function. Nothing. I race back to my hotel room to fire up my laptop to check the BoA website to see if there’s any way to report the card there. All it says to do if you lose your card is to call customer service ASAP- and I know what’s not going on there.

Luckily for me, there was no activity on my account until I could finally reach someone the next morning. Is it too much to be mildly pissed? It’s selfish but.. dude. I understand employees need to be with their families, but other businesses seemed to okay with seperating families and all they were doing was serving me a smoothie, not holding all the money I have in this world. What about holiday pay? Is a skeleton crew too much to ask? Or some sort of automated “lost card” option so employees can be with their families and I avoid 24 hours of panic? I’m certain that I’m not the only dummy who lost their card that day and I’m also certain there are people now tied up in claims because of it.

Comments

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  1. JulieG says:

    There is a separate fraud site for Bank of America called http://www.MyFraudProtection.com that lets you report new fraud. They just haven’t done a very good job of letting the public know about it.

  2. That’s odd. All my banks and credit card people are 24/7 – 365 days a year.

  3. Weird. All my bank and credit card people are 24/7 – 365 days a year.

  4. Dern the software making me make double posts on Gawker Media!

  5. 24fan24 says:

    If it was a check card you could always call the main matercard/visa 800 number, they’re always open.

  6. Antediluvian says:

    I strongly suspect there is a different number to call in case of a lost or stolen card, rather than the main customer service number.

    Even my podunk little bank has a contract w/ a 3rd-party fraud reporting service for after-hours issues, so I’m sure BofA has some dedicated lines somewhere — or at least an option to leave voicemail.

    I found a this on the BofA web site:

    Lost or stolen ATM card or Check Card
    — Report your lost or stolen ATM card or Check Card immediately.
    – In California, call 1.800.622.8731
    – In Idaho and Washington, call 1.800.442.6680
    – For all other states, call 1.800.432.1000

    and a bunch of other options on the page linked above.

  7. kerry says:

    24fan24:
    In theory that’s a good idea, but when my wallet got stolen I called Visa (the name on my debit card) and they told me I had to contact my bank, that they could do nothing to stop its usage. Presumably they will still protect you if there is a charge, but your bank has to be the one to turn on the fraud alert.

  8. exkon says:

    Well, things happen, I can probably assure that the “Customer Service” on a holiday would be great…Nothing beats working while everyone is off!

  9. Boo says:

    Unfortunately, most cards have the number to call to report a lost or stolen card printed on them. Thus rendering the number completely useless.

  10. “Unfortunately, most cards have the number to call to report a lost or stolen card printed on them. Thus rendering the number completely useless.”

    This is why the smart consumer Xeroxes the cards in his wallet periodically.

    It’s utterly moronic for a financial services company not to have a “push 1 for loss/theft” or “call ## for loss/theft” on their main menu of their main customer service number, but the smart thing to do is to Xerox your cards and keep the copies in a secure location. (And shred them thoroughly then burn them when you make new copies.)

    Not that Eyebrows is smart. I only get around to doing mine when I’m travelling internationally, because the idea of being stranded abroad with a stolen credit card, no number to call, and no handy bills to check for a number to call terrifies me.

  11. mfergel says:

    Bull puck…..she called the wrong number. She probably called a branch or something. Trust me. I work for the bank. Contact numbers such as that are considered essential services and are always manned in some way or other. Doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday, etc.

  12. Odwalla says:

    Chances are her card was sitting in the ATM, safe and sound. ATM machines are designed to detect if a card has been ejected and then left in the slot of a period of time (10 seconds, 15 seconds, etc…). If after that amount of time the card is still in the slot the machine pulls it back in so it can’t be stolen. All you have to get it back is go to the branch associated with the ATM and show proof of identity.

  13. RandomHookup says:

    Actually, Eyebrows, the real fun internationally is needing to contact your bank and only having the damn 800 numbers. Call directory assistance in the US to get the number and you get… the 800 number again.

  14. tz says:

    At my credit union, which is also closed holidays, their message includes the number for reporting lost or stolen cards 24/7.

    Apparently the main site said call “customer service” ASAP and gave that number. If the call center was closed they should have given the 24/7 number in the “we’re closed” message.

    The problem is that the site gave WRONG or incomplete instructions. I think my credit union lists both a normal and after hours number for reporting lost or stolen cards as well, and both an international (non-800 collect) number and toll free number.

    Perhaps one advantage of outsourcing to india is that I don’t think Labor Day here is a national holiday there.

  15. DeeJayQueue says:

    doesn’t BoA have fraud protection anyway? Even if someone stole her card and spent all her money she wouldn’t be liable for it.

  16. “the real fun internationally is needing to contact your bank and only having the damn 800 numbers.”

    *shudder*

    Although the most recent time I went abroad, I called my credit cards in advance so they wouldn’t freeze my cards (I appreciate the diligence, big time), and they not only noted on the account I’d be making charges from foreign places X, Y, and Z on dates A through B, but they gave me the appropriate toll-free number to call IN THE COUNTRY I WAS VISITING if I had a problem!

    I hadn’t even known they had one. (In the past I’ve just used a calling card and called the US 800 number.) It gave me a warm happy glow of good-customer-service joy that almost eradicated my irritation at the fact they now charge me for international transactions.

  17. Jen says:

    I lost my BofA card just before that weekend, too. I was able to get someone on the phone right away, but instead of cancelling my check card, like I asked, they cancelled my BofA credit card. So my check card remained open an extra 6 hours, and I was without credit card or check card until that Tuesday, when I could go get a temporary one. Coupled with the fact that in order to dispute the money stolen from ym account, they keep asking me “Did you write your PIN number on the back of your card?” over and over again like I’m a complete idiot, I’m not exactly instilled with a lot of confidence.

  18. Skeptic says:

    A couple of things:

    If you leave your card at a “motorized” BofA ATM, the machine will suck the card in after a few minutes to protect the cardholder. Even if that doesn’t happen, if you have exited the transaction menue the card would still need a PIN entered to use it again at the ATM.

    You can get a generic replacement ATM card instantly at any Bank of America branch (providing the manager is following proceedure and keeping them in stock). They have blank cards they can encode the magnetic strip on for ATMs.

    As for fraud, your big dangers are probably not at the ATM where the cash withdrawal limit would meter the amount of cash someone could suck out of your account if the did have the PIN or if you had failed to exit the transaction menue before stepping away, though the bank can claim these are “authorized transactions” because the actual PIN was used.

    The big problem with most ATM cards is that fraudsters can use the “check card” feature for PINless transactions to suck nearly unlimited amounts of cash out of your account just by having the card. Although BofA claims to offer liability limits as on credit cards, these claims are not backed up by force of law the way the credit card liability limits are. The BofA liability limits are entirely voluntary and up to their whims.

    Your best security is to have your next BofA ATM card issued sans the “Check Card” feature. The bank will argue with you because they make more money on “Signature Based” transactions that use the non-realtime credit card transaction networks than the realtime PIN based transactions, but they will give you a “plain” ATM card if you insist.

  19. terribleservice says:

    I can’t believe BOA pride them self on CUSTOMER SERVICE.

    I’m currently on vacation and I have an issuse with my debit card. It was flagged for activity, which would be fine if this wasn’t the 49th time they have flagged the account within the last 5 months I’ve been a member.
    I call into the service center and was transfered to a pissed off customer service rep in the fraud dept who dosn’t ask me any security question and says that I have to go into a local branch to get my card truned back on, which at 8pm est there isn’t any, so I get tranfered to a so called manager who I spoke to not once but twice who assured me that he’d done an overdrive on the account, but yet the card still didn’t work. I called back 5 more times and each customer service rep told me that the man i spoke to doesn’t exist. NOT only did the asshole give me a fake name, but didn’t even put notes in the system, so now I don’t have any cash and no debit or credit cards that work and the closet branch is over 20 minutes away. I’m going to speak with a lawyer tomorrow and see what actions I vcan take as this is the most UNPROFESSIONAL act i’ve ever seen. Once I get to the bank tomorrow I’ll be sure to close my account and i suggest every else does the same. BOA is a corp giant and doesn’t care about normal people. I’ve got over 200k in my account and i can’t buy a stick of gum because some customer service rep is having a bad day. My family has to suffer because of it and that’s what hurts me the most.