Family Says Bank Of America Refuses to Cash Bond Worth $30,000

Greg Miller, the son of Bette Miller, the woman who is in a dispute with Bank of America over a $5,000 bond bought in 1984 from Rainier National Bank, has written in to tell his side of the story. Here’s his letter.

Greg writes:
Having read all about this on your web site, I can see there is some confusion, so I thought I would set the record straight for your readers. I am Greg Miller, Bette’s son. I have been chasing this for over two years. Here is the real story, only part of which was seen on KOMO 4 News.

In about April of 2005 my mother had a silent heart attack. She was on the floor of our family home of 40 years for about two days and was rushed to the hospital. Her ability to care for herself in the family home safely became an issue. She tried to return home and was unable to remain there successfully. Such being the case moving to an assisted living facility became the priority. My sister and I had to help her by doing the leg work of consolidating her financial position, cleaning the house, selling property, and handling liquidation of any investments to help her finance her future. My father died about 12 years ago. Since at that time she was able to continue in the home without difficulty on her social security and the remainder of my father’s pension, there was no need for her to concern herself with their investments or what bonds, stocks, etc. remained in their safe deposit box.

In April of 1984 my mother and father purchased a Rainier Bank Bond for $5000.00. They saw on the face of the bond that it automatically reinvested every two years and saw no reason to cash it. On the face of the bond it clearly stated that you had to present the bond to cash it in. Great! No worries. It remained in the safe deposit box collecting interest. In the mean time Rainier Bank was sold to Seattle Pacific Bank. Seattle Pacific was the acquired by SeaFirst Bank that was then bought by Bank of America. Fast forward to April of 2005, my mother asked me to handle cashing that bond for her. I carried it to the Bank of American branch in Monroe, Washington, where, after a couple of weeks of research, they indicated they would not cash it. I was most frustrated and I wrote a complaint to the BOA CEO in North Carolina. He referred it to one of his functionaries who indicated after further research they would not be paying the bond unless we could come up with Form 1099’s proving our claim. When I asked what 1099 forms were, it was indicated that they were IRS forms. I asked who was responsible for producing these forms and they said, “The bank.” Now the bank had told me they had no record of this bond as they didn’t keep records older than 7 years. It is conceivable that somewhere in the shuffle between all these banks and records the information on this bond was inadvertently lost. The question remains, why would a bank ask for records they know could not exist because they would have had to produce them on a bond for which they have no record, pretty circular logic. I sent the functionaries several more entreaties without BOA stepping up to take care of their contractual responsibilities. I contacted a friend who is an elder law attorney and was referred to our current attorney along with the advice that BOA was trying to either wait for my mother to die or the statute of limitations to run out.

Our attorney checked with unclaimed property in Washington State to determine if the bond had been treated as an unclaimed account and escheated to the State. No record of any escheatment was found to exist. An investigation launched by our attorney inquiring to the Federal Comptroller of the Currency resulted in the governmental equivalent of a shrug; they were unable to make certain verification either way. They said the bank had allowed folks to cash the bond without actually having the bond previously. It is weird when a bank has a contract and they see fit to, by choice, violate that contract with others as a way of getting out of honoring it at all with those that comply with the contract. Then BOA told us that the bond/contract was not sufficient and couldn’t we produce other proof.

This was the rough equivalent of me buying a car, disposing of the contract copies provided me and then acting as though I had no reason to pay for the car because I had no record of it. The bank would produce their copies of the contract to prove their point. Then I would tell them the copies of the contract were not sufficient. We all know that scenario would last-not long at all.

The conclusion our attorney offered appeared correct. It appeared they were stonewalling us. I found it ironic in the extreme that BOA’s tag line on advertising was “The bank with a higher standard.” Their higher standard involved ignoring contractual obligations and attempting to rip off an 80 year old widow in assisted living with no conscience, doing their best to get away with whatever they thought they were able to get away with because they are a big bank and do not care about anyone or anything but their bottom line and are willing to do anything to enhance that bottom line.

I, my mother, and our attorney continue to tenaciously pursue this both on substance and principle. If my mother can be ripped off then none of us is safe. We all entrust our funds to banks for our future, both short and long term. I began to wonder if I should not start stuffing my mattress because at least I could guarantee the mattress could be made to give it back to me with just a little wrestling with it.

By the way, the value of the bond is currently in the neighborhood of about $30,000.00. We also want BOA to pay our legal fees as we never would have had to obtain an attorney had they stepped up and handled their responsibilities appropriately. Not one thin dime of my mother’s investment should have to be used to pay for an attorney or the hassle this has been for the previous years to her and the entire family. It was BOA’s attitude of unwillingness to work with us that put us in this position and, since it was their actions that caused this they also need to shoulder the fiscal responsibilities that their actions forced on us.

On a more personal note, I find this whole scenario disgusting, frightening, and depressing. Banks tell us to invest our money with them. They tell us it is safe, trustworthy, and backed by the FDIC. My parents saved for their retirement and now, when my mother needs the money, the Bank denies they owe her a dime. They hold her accountable for their poor record keeping and use that as an excuse to take her money. This behavior is reprehensible and causes a lack of faith in banks in general and Bank of America in particular. They are behaving with callous disregard to my mother, their moral and legal obligations, their business ethics, and the public trust. This is my mother, who birthed me, raised me, loved me, and protected me. Now it is my turn and I will not let her down nor see anyone else do so.

Herb Weisbaum was kind enough to work on telling our story and insuring others knew about it. If this issue is of concern to your readers, please have them communicate their displeasure with BOA to:

Kenneth D. Lewis
Chairman, CEO, and President
Bank of America Corporation
Bank of America Corporate Center
100 North Tryon Street
Charlotte, North Carolina 28255

Hope this helps clarify the situation to your readers.

Thanks!

Greg Miller

PREVIOUSLY: Bank Of America Refuses To Pay 80-Year-Old’s $5,000 Bond

Comments

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  1. starrion says:

    It should be strange but hearing that Bank of America is trying to rip off an 80-yr old widow, my only reaction is “Right. That’s what they do.”

    BofA is the grand master of fees. A Jedi-knight of lawyering it’s way out of it’s obligations to their customers.

    They don’t care. And if you do business with them, don’t be surprised to find yourself holding the short end of the stick.

  2. snazz says:

    does anyone keep reading this woman’s name as ‘bette midler’ and getting confused? or is that just my inner homo wanting it to be her?

  3. Ass_Cobra says:

    If you have a lawyer then any advice I give he’ll probably have gone over, but if BofA is not providing you with 1099’s they may be in some shit with the IRS as well. Just one more line to think about pursuing. This is unbelievably scummy. If it’s a bearer instrument (unlikely as they are asking about 1099s), presentation should be enough. If it’s in registered form, they have a duty to keep the register in good order. There is no way that a bunch of mergers, acquisitions, etc. should muck that up.

  4. renilyn says:

    @snazz: No, Im having the same thing. Funny, yet irrelevant. :)

    I agree with Greg Miller here, this is disgusting. I’ll be happy to write a letter to that CEO.. I’m off to do this now

  5. boandmichele says:

    @snazz: yes, bette midler was the first thing i read, actually. :) i dont think its too ‘homo’ though because i think we are misspelling it. meh.

    anyway, i am glad i no longer bank with BOA. USAA is infinitely superior and, i hope, would never stoop to such a level.

  6. hellinmyeyes says:

    I always wonder if this doesn’t happen more often, with banks merging/opening/closing more often these days. Keeping track of assets and liabilities through multiple mergers and buy-outs is a pain for any company (things really do get lost sometimes!), and I feel for anyone who’s on the wrong side of this kind of situation, where the bank you trust is manhandled during a take-over. Sounds like they’re pretty much screwed.

  7. Blue says:

    One thing missing from the letter-to-readers………what is the battle plan for the future? When do you see the judge? Is there a court date established?

  8. SexCpotatoes says:

    Shouldn’t it be relatively easy to take all of his mother’s and deceased father’s tax returns for that time period (from 1984 to present) as proof that the bond was never cashed? Unless they don’t have those records… I dunno, get those bastards at the bank to pay what they owe! Best of luck.

  9. lazyazz says:

    File a complaint with the FDIC and FTC. Do not know if it will do any good, but I doubt it would hurt. You can do them both online.

    [www.fdic.gov]

    [rn.ftc.gov]

  10. SadSam says:

    I would expect that the banking regulations would speak to this type of issue. When BoA snarfs up another bank are they not required to honor the bonds issued by the prior bank?

    BoA sucks.

  11. Archipodius says:

    If Mr. Miller happens to read this – Just an idea that couldn’t hurt: The Chicago Tribune has a service called “What’s Your Problem” where you write in about some crap a company’s trying to pull on you, and they try to fix it for you. Perhaps a bit of clout could get this job done..

  12. bedofnails says:

    Re: 1099’s. Something is fishy here. If the Bond has yet to have been claimed, and has been rolled over – somewhere along the lines (even within the past 7 years) your mother owed interest on that gain, reportable to the IRS.

    Now, 1099 rules are fuzzy in that even if the issuing party fails to send you one, you (your mother) is still required to report the income. Moreover, if this bond is now worth 30K v the original 5K, your mother is responsible for paying the tax on this. My point – if this Bond was in fact legitimate, and not sold somehow along the way; over the past decade your mother would have received a notice from the IRS from either one of the banking institutions, but certainly the IRS.

    ?

  13. davebg5 says:

    I just checked and http://www.boastolemymoney.com is still available.

  14. Eads73 says:

    I am Bette Miller’s granddaughter and I live in Montana. I am hundreds of miles away and hearing this whole story makes me sick. My grandmother is on her last leg of life and BOA wants to basically “screw” her out of an investment she has been making for the past 23 years. I am appaled that any bank, including BOA, would attempt to lie or decieve their customers, whether or not they were actually doing business with them. I hope that they know what is right and settle this. She has worked and raised my mother and uncle very well. She has taught me many things throughout my life as well. She deserves every penny of the bond.

  15. Nighthawke says:

    Start firing off complaints.
    [www.irs.gov]

  16. LAGirl says:

    @snazz: me, too!

    this is why i closed my account with B of A years ago, and will never do business with them again. hopefully, his story will get a lot of press, and shame them into cashing the bond.

  17. Fuzz says:

    Maybe you should try to take this to binding arbitration, where you certainly will not get screwed.

  18. Crymson_77 says:

    @bedofnails: The 1099 would only be required if this was a non-bond investment or a sold bond. A bond would only require the 1099 if the asset had been recovered at a gain to show the taxable amount of change. In other words, she would only be liable for the taxes on the $25,000 gain if she sold the bond at the current value of $30,000. This has got to be a delay tactic from BofA.

    Also, does the bond have the contract type-written on it? If so, that is enough proof through the chain of purchases that BofA is liable for this money. When one company buys another, they also buy all of that companies debts (not just their assets).

    I am willing to bet that this whole issue stems from BofA’s lack of exact record keeping and integration of old records from purchased companies. Just because it isn’t in their books, doesn’t mean they aren’t liable for the money. Get a contract lawyer involved and you should be able to prove that quickly an easily through the public records of sale of each company.

    Also, their record keeping doesn’t include anything beyond 7 years…this may be true. But that only applies to non-active accounts or investments that have no monetary value in the books. If there is any liability from any party, BofA or a customer, they are required by law to keep those documents until 7 years after the termination of said liability. This isn’t just policy, this is in the books a a legal requirement and precident.

  19. Anonymous says:

    about the 1099s…

    The interest just accumulated and none was paid out. If that is correct, then perhaps no 1099 was required to be issued.

    [www.irs.gov]
    from 1099 instructions: “for payments made on obligations subject to transactional reporting (for example… other demand obligations), interest is paid at the time the obligation is presented for payment. For example, interest on a coupon detached from a bond is paid when it is presented for payment”.

    If the mother is like 99.5% of the US taxpayers, then she is a CASH BASIS taxpayer, and would only pay tax on the interest when she cashed the bond in.

  20. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    SUE! SUE! SUE! SUE!!!!!!!!

    Subpoenas have a way of conjuring up records and/or money out of nowhere.

  21. chagasi says:

    You are correct that the argument the bank is using is tautological. The post from Rowdyroddy is the most concise. If it is a bearer bond, there is no story, and they are violating a contractual obligation. If it is a registered bond, the burden-of-proof is on the bank, not yourselves to maintain the registar. Also, the absence of 1099’s is moot as almost all bonds do not assess interest until cashed. She would owe taxes on the $25,000 in gains, however. Furthermore, Depending on her current state of residence and state of issue, some bonds have tax implications beyond the ordinary, e.g. no state taxes whatsoever, and or corporate bonds taxed as ordinary income/dividends etc. etc. There is no point in chasing this… Get a yes or no answer from someone you can document and then sue if it isn’t resolved… This violates the doctorine of clean hands at face, and you are likely able to compound for legal fees.

  22. BankOnIt says:

    As someone who works with banks for a living, here’s my best guess as to why BoA refuses to do anything. The debenture you purchased in 1984 became due in 1996 (see -[query.nytimes.com]). Rainier Bancorporation (the entity which issued your bond – it was the holding company for Rainier Bank) was purchased by Security Pacific Corporation in the early 90s (making them liable for your bond) and then was sold to BankAmerica (later Bank of America after the NationsBank merger) in 1998. I’m not sure of the merger accounting involving a called bond. I beleive that in mergers companies transfer contracts, liabilities, or contractual obligations; if the contract is no longer valid (i.e., the bond has been called), it may not be transferred to the acquiring entity. Try checking witht eh state of California (where Security Pac was domiciled) or with Washington under Security Pac’s name – not BoA’s.

  23. pepelicious says:

    It’s funny to hear the “we don’t keep records” argrument from BofA. My wife and I recently closed our Wells Fargo and WaMu accounts after experiencing holds on checks that those banks mysteriously had no record of.

    It’s just appalling how as a customer for years you still do not get even the slightest benefit of the doubt.

    We ended up opening accounts at a local credit union. It might not be as convenient as the McBanks but we can go in and speak to someone who actually has the power to get something fixed.

  24. chutch says:

    Wow, and I thought I’d hit bad luck with the occasional 50 dollar mistake by a bank. This is horrendous.

    I understand the arguement by BoA. Records don’t exist to prove that they still are obliged to pay you that amount. But as of late Regions managed to lose my mailing address and make no attempt to find me, so I have to say I wouldn’t be backing off because of this point.

    I think your best chance of ever seeing this money with BoA stonewalling you like this is through court. It seems to me that your bond is all the proof you need that you are owed money. What’s the possibility that after cashing a bond (with minimal 5,000 value) that any bank is just going to ask if you’d like to keep the bond for fire kindling?

    Besides trying to stonewall you away from rightful money, I don’t see the benefit to BoA by holding out. If your mother has a bond, wouldn’t they have to just eventually pay out to an heir even if they were trying to hold out? I’m confused on this issue, but I stand by my assessment of the need for a lawyer to help sort out the issues. Maybe you can find a lawyer with a good bulldog mentality.

  25. Jerim says:

    Let me start by saying that I am very sorry for what has happened to your mother. I only wish that I get to live as long.

    I started out on your side, but as I sat and thought about it, a few things became clear. First, there were some mergers before the BoA merger. Is it possible that the bond was not recorded properly from the first merger? Could BoA just honestly not have a record because one of the other mergers along the way failed to record it correctly? Can you say for an absolute fact that this problem is 100% on BoA?

    Circular logic is a term that is over used. It is not circular logic for BoA to want to see some papers from the original bank. When most mergers/buy-outs occur, the company is only buying the customers. BoA only became your bank on the day the merger was finalized. Anything that happened before that is the responsibility of the orignal bank. Sometimes we think the wrong thing and don’t ask the right questions. Have you tried asking BoA for any contact info the executives of the original bank? I know that when I was manager during a buyout, we made a copy of the old company’s files from the closing date and archived them. Chances are that some of the executives may have kept files and notes on things during their tenure.

    You really need to start at the beginning and trace your bond through all the mergers. I think you will be surprised that the problem occurred a long time ago. This brings me to my final point. When you have invested money in a bond, it is a good thing to pay attention to the bank. Once word of a merger gets out, or is announced by the bank, you need to march right down there the very same day and make sure your bond is safe. Waiting 20+ years, and after several mergers to verify your bond is as much on the customer as the bank. Mistakes happen and due diligence by customers is just as important in rectifying the situation.

    All that said, you really need to start at the beginning and have your lawyer go through all the paperwork from day one. It will take time, and money, but it is the best way of proving when things got off track and proving the bond is authentic. Try not to have the knee-jerk reaction of “This big evil corporation won’t just give me my money.” Work with them. Try to understand what they want and work with them on getting it. BoA is not against you. I don’t think $30k will bankrupt them. Instead of getting pissed that they don’t do things the way you want, try to work with them inside the system.

  26. Buran says:

    @Eads73: Did she teach you to stand up for your rights? I think you’re at the point where you need to sue.

  27. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    @pepelicious: Word. They know when you bounce a check or are overdrawn ASAP, but they don’t keep records on bonds?

  28. MystiMel says:

    @starrion: She didn’t invest with B of A. She invested with a bank that was bought by a bank that was bought by B of A.

    On another note, I don’t think that this is the fault of the old lady at all. When you buy a bond it is supposed to last until you finally cash it in. It almost sounds like the bank must have thrown away old unclaimed bond records because they figured the people had lost the bonds or something.

    If a bank buys out another it has the responsibility to keep all the records and responsibilities that the previous bank has to its customers. Its true that it might have been the previous merger’s fault that the records were lost, but unless there is someone still responsible for

  29. Anonymous says:

    It doesn’t surprise me at all with Bank of America. I’ve had several inconveniences with them in the past (of course nothing like this) but like an idiot continue to do business with them. Well, no more after my experience a couple of weeks ago. I needed to withdraw 7K from my bank account to purchase a classic car with cash. I placed 10K into my checking account a few days prior to this withdrawal and asked the bank repeatedly if there would be any difficulties in withdrawing a large sum out in the following days. They assured me it would be very simple with no hang ups. Well sure enough I went up to the window with my withdrawal slip made out for 7K and the teller looked horrified. I was initially told by this teller that a hold had been put on my initial 10K deposit since it was such a large sum and I couldn’t withdraw money. As this made no sense I asked to talk to someone else. The next teller told me I could withdraw the amount but as it was such a very large sum of money (what???? people in my town have half a million dollar homes and make much more money than me-I believe they withdraw 10K daily to cover the expense of breakfast) I would have to wait until this large transaction could be approved. There were 5 tellers working and one manager present however none were allowed to approve such a large withdrawal. So I had to wait almost 45 minutes for the head manager to return so I could get my money. I was leaving for an 8 hour trip to pick up the car and this was beyond inconvenient. It looks like BOA loves to take your money but doesn’t ever want to let you have it. Glad to say I moved my business to Wells Fargo and have had a much more pleasant experience and don’t have to wait for anything. Spread the word. BOA is useless!

  30. swalve says:

    @Jerim: That’s not really true- If I buy a business in good standing (IE, not through a bankruptcy), I take over the debts and obligations of that company. Just like consumer debt, it’s still valid if I change my name a couple of times or get married. Collecting might be hard, ut they do owe the debt (unless there is something else o the story).

  31. larcin says:

    Here is his contact info.
    Kenneth Lewis
    Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer
    +1.704.386.5681
    ken.lewis@bankofamerica.com
    100 N. Tryon St. Bank of America Corporate Center
    Charlotte, NC 28255
    USA

  32. bedofnails says:

    The OP stated the Bond “rolled”, by my understanding of this, this would be the same as cashing out and reinvesting?

    Can someone maybe shed more light on this?

  33. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @Jerim:
    You have no idea what you’re writing about. There is no way the Millers can trace this through numerous mergers & buyouts of banks by BofA & it predecessors!
    It’s the job of BofA to trace this!
    If you buy a stock that’s been merged & merged, there are companies that can trace them for a fee. Most of these old stock certificates are worthless as stocks, but many have value as art works.
    Well a bond that’s redeemed is always canceled with some sort of indelible ink.
    You must turn it in to redeem it.

    What the Millers have here is that BofA screwed up, can’t find its copies of the paperwork, maybe because they were shipped to the salt mine in Kansas for storage and they don’t want to pay for the record search.

    If there weren’t any coupons on the bond, then there weren’t any 1099’s.
    If the bond is real & not a forgery, and BofA doesn’t claim that, then BofA needs to pay it out now.

  34. FLConsumer says:

    Write to your local congressional rep. (bonus points if they’re on the house finance committee.) Basically do whatever it takes to shame them into following the law…. and sue their asses.

  35. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Send it to collections and claim bloody murder. Notify the FTC, SEC, IRS, FDIC, and the controller of currencies or whatever. Not to mention Moody’s and S&P. I wonder how long BoA will last once its bonds get a junk rating.

  36. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Yes, I’m recommending that you trash BoA’s credit rating.

  37. tallladude says:

    Just another example of how a big financial institition shows they are the heartless, money-grubbing

    For chrissakes, you’d think these big corporations could at least establish a “goodwill” department that dispenses with formalities in cases such as this one to cut through any red-tape in the interest of “doing good” to resolve an issue. I have no doubt this elderly woman’s bond is a valid financial instrument that BofA should unquestionably be paying out on.

    What baffles me, is that for the drop-in-the-bucket amount for BofA of $30k they’re holding back on paying, the negative publicity will surely cost them far more. Serves them right that many like those of us on here that see how they treat customers have/will pull their money out and take it elsewhere/ I sure hope it far exceeds the $30k they should have paid this woman when the bond was first presented to them.

  38. DJ_Grey says:

    I’m sorry to hear of your mother’s condition and B of A’s conduct is disgraceful, but not at all suprising. However, in this case they have actually done you a favor. Now you can get quite a bit more than what the bond is worth. Get your lawyer to file a complaint ASAP, and tell B of A you will settle for 3 times the value of the bond. If they fail to do so you will alert all the newspapers, magazines, local tv stations, etc. to see if they’re interested in a story about a giant bank ripping off an elderly woman with failing health. They will probably realize that this is exactly the type of thing reporters love and $100,000 is a hell of a lot cheaper than all the negative publicity and angry responses it will generate. Use some of the proceeds to purchase a Ken Lewis pinata.

  39. pdxguy says:

    Okay, you got a lawyer and all. So, quit wasting time and file a court case. Seems to be the only thing that seriously gets BofA’s attention.

  40. agb says:

    @DJ_Grey: Yes.

  41. NefariousNewt says:

    “Bank of Opportunity” indeed. I’ve had my own run-ins with them and now I no longer do business with them. They are symptomatic of the continued death of the small town bank and the increasing contempt of financial institutions for the people whose money they hold. Apparently they are more concerned with what investors think. This is wrong on so many levels, and BoA could fix it with a wave of the hand, but they are beginning to sound like the RIAA, e.g. “we’re right, you’re wrong, and we don’t have to explain ourselves.” That this issue will be forced to come to legal action, stealing time and money from a woman who can ill afford either, requires a groundswell of defections by BoA account holders. One could only hope that would get their attention.

  42. savvy9999 says:

    As a practical question, how long does the IRS save anyone’s personal tax filings? What recourse does she have going to the IRS looking for a 1099 from 20+ years ago?

    I have all of my filings ever since I started having ‘real’ jobs (20+ yrs now). Is this an example of a good reason to never throw out your taxes, or does the 7-year rule still apply?

  43. thomas_callahan says:

    If this really is due to the banks losing records in mergers, then this can’t be the only missing bond. I’m sure lots of people are missing bonds they don’t even know they’re missing yet, and maybe never will. I can see situations with peoples’ older parents having Alzheimer’s or something similar and nobody knowing that they had bonds or other financial instruments tucked away somewhere, so it just vanishes.

    But as far as the negative-publicity-based solution, the only problem with shaming them into resolving it through media attention is that it would solve just this one case — it’s similar to Fight Club’s car recall equation (to paraphrase): “If the number of accidents times cost of lawsuits is less than the cost of the recall, the recall doesn’t happen.” In this case, if it becomes more expensive (or damaging reputation-wise) to not pay out, then they’ll pay out just to silence the issue without making any policy changes to prevent a recurrence. It would almost be better for it to go to court to get some more authoritative eyes on the issue rather than just embarrassing them into paying up by contacting news outlets. Probably not better for the plaintiffs — for their sake I hope BofA just coughs up the money — but better overall.

    BofA is the only bank in my little town, but I’ll continue living with the inconvenience of having my nearest bank 15 miles away just to avoid them — between the $3 ATM fees, this, and other horror stories, there’s no way they’re getting my money.

  44. Jerim says:

    @swalve:

    Taking over the debt is optional. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. During a recent merger, the former owner decided to retain an account he was in default on. You simply have to change the account info from the business to the individual before closing. I think BoA’s point is that they are not aware of the “debt.”

  45. Jerim says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik:

    You obviously have never worked on a merger. If I am purchasing a company with 100 accounts, the former owner will present me with all his paperwork. We go over it one by one, and verify it. At the end of the day, we both agree on the 100 accounts, shake hands and the deal is done. If the following week, a random person shows up that isn’t in the system, then it isn’t my problem. I might make a good faith effort to ask the former owner, but if he can’t remember or is unwilling to help, then my hands are tied.

    When I purchased the company, that person’s account was not listed as an asset or liability. It was not part of the transaction, which means that it was never sold and remains the property of the seller, personally. This happens quite often, when a person sells a company, but decides to retain ownership of an asset from the company. BoA can’t investigate or verify something that to them, doesn’t exist. As the story state, BoA investigate and didn’t find all the necessary paperwork. That is not BoA’s fault. The customer’s action is against the former executives of the old bank who were either negligent or fraudelent in to turning over all the paperwork.

  46. Jerim says:

    @thomas_callahan:

    I agree with you, this probably isn’t the only missing bond. Although, one bond has much better chance of going unnoticed than 1000. The smaller the mistake, the easier it is to make.

  47. Ass_Cobra says:

    “You obviously have never worked on a merger.”

    This statement more likely applies to you. Undisclosed liabilities arise all of the time in mergers and acquisitions. They are of huge concern which is why massive amounts of cash are spent on due diligence. Just because you miss something before close, does not absolve the acquirer of liability. When you acquire a company you acquire all of its obligations.

    There seems to be a little discrepency in the chain of ownership. The author has Ranier —> Seattle Pacific —> SeaFirst —-> BoA.

    Bankonit has Ranier —> Security Pacific —> BoA.

    I can find announcements of the merger from Ranier Bancorp —> Security Pacific in 1987

    [query.nytimes.com]

    and from Security Pacific —> BA in 1992

    [query.nytimes.com]

    I cannot find anything that implies Ranier was purchased by Seattle Pacific which was subsequently purchased by SeaFirst. In fact I have a cite that SeaFirst was purchased by BA in 1983.

    [dwt.com]

    Perhaps revisiting what the actual chain of acquisition is would be beneficial to moving this forward. One thing that was left out of all of this is that BA (BankAmerica) was itself acquired by NationsBank in 1998 to form the current BofA.

    Is it possible that the bond payment due is unclaimed in California as it appears the acquirer was most certainly a California bank? I tried an unclaimed property search in California but without knowing who the bond was registered to (your father or your mother) I didn’t have any luck with it. In any event good luck and I would recommend revisiting what the presumed chain of acquisition is.

  48. Tonguetied says:

    Consider writing to your mother’s Congressman or Senator. Getting a Congressional Inquiry will often jolt organizations into action.

  49. Navin R Johnson says:

    I agree BofA sucks! I left that bank because they sucked so badly. I’ve never once heard anyone say anything good about BofA, yet they remain one of the largest banks, WHY PEOPLE?

    Get out! Find another bank. Vote with your wallet! Let’s watch them go out of business and laugh. It’s simple. Take you money out and put it somewhere else. I did. Was it a pain in the ass? Yes. But so is being on the phone for 4 hours to despute charges that no other bank would ever charge you!

  50. BankOnIt says:

    @rowdyroddypiper: Actually, I did mention the BankAmerica-Nations Bank meger in my timeline.

    SeaFirst Corproation was insolvent and was scooped up by BA directly in a FDIC-sponsored deal. They never bought Security Pacific.

  51. shades_of_blue says:

    You should inform them that you’ve blasted them on the internet and your next step is to blast them over televised communications and their stock investors. That should cause a few mouths at BOA to drop. Because once their investors catch wind of a possible scandal/negative publicity one of BOAs’ execs should curtail this incident. And if not, revel is self-satisfaction over the negative publicity you’ll caused for them.

  52. synergy says:

    So much hate for BoA. I’ve never had them screw me out of anything nor charge me any fees other than the few times I wasn’t responsible and overdrafted. That’s not their fault, but mine. I learned and never did it again. *shrug*

  53. thalia says:

    This is why I don’t bank with BoA anymore. What they have done in this situation is both calous and degrading. It’s disgusting how people who see themselves as holding the slightest bit of authority attempt to parade it around regardless of what it’s costing the victim.

  54. Ass_Cobra says:

    @BankOnIt:

    My bad on the BA —> NB merger, I skimmed your comment too quickly.

    “I cannot find anything that implies Ranier was purchased by Seattle Pacific which was subsequently purchased by SeaFirst.”

    My wording up above was definitely unclear. I meant to say that I didn’t find anything substantiating the writer’s claim that Ranier was Purchased by Seattle Pacific and that Seattle Pacific was then purchased by SeaFirst. I agree that BA acquired SeaFirst independent of purchasing Security Pacific (the purchaser of Ranier).

    Since I think we can be pretty confident it went from:

    Ranier —> Security Pacific —> BA —> BofA

    does this mean that the writer has misunderstood his lawyer on the chain of acquisition or does the lawyer have it wrong. If it’s the former, hey it happens. If it’s the latter then correcting this may clear things up and I’d be looking for new counsel in the mean time.

  55. childrenofthecandycorn says:

    Seafirst Bank aquired Security Pacific Bank in 1992. At this point Seafirst was a wholly-owned subisidiary of BankAmerica (the California one).

  56. BankOnIt says:

    I think the main issue here is that corporate bonds are not and do not behave like government bonds. If the OP’s parents wanted something with absolute certainty to last them through retirement, they should have investigated TBills. Although many people confuse buying stock/bonds in banks with having added security or some sort of FDIC insurance, they don’t. It’s akin to buying a bond in GE or any other publicly traded corporation. There is investment risk and call risk, and if a bond was purchased that had a call provision, there is no way that bond would have been valid 10-20 years later. The OP’s parents had a contract with Rainier Bancorporation – not with Bank of America. My guess would be that the bonds were called before the merger with Security Pacific or some sort of reconcilement was made. Either that, or new certificates were issued to account for the merger (the way that common stock would be treated). That might be why BofA does not recognize the old Rainier certificate.

  57. Crymson_77 says:

    Any udpates on this story?

  58. Boberto says:

    Yeah, it’s been surprisingly quiet.

  59. RSch says:

    Well, I have just had an interesting interaction with the Bank of America. I too have a “Rainier Bank Bond” that was purchased in 1981, shortly after my oldest son was born. It was to have been used for his college education.

    I would like to add the following comments, based on my interactions with Bank of America.

    (1) The document is not a “Bond,” it is a Certificate of Deposit. There is a big difference as the Securities and Exchange Commission regulates bonds and I had earlier talked to the SEC about missing bonds.

    (2) According to the Dept. Manager I talked to at Bank of America they will not send me anything in writing that says that they will not honor the CD. They will send me a form letter that says that they have no records of the CD, but they can not customize the form letter in any way.

    (3) I hypothesized with them that one of three things must have happened, (a) I or my son either cashed out the CD at some point, (b) Rainier/SeaFirst/BofA must have turned the money over to some State’s Unclaimed Property division, and I was told that if the last address was a Washington address it would have been turned over to WA State’s Unclaimed property department, or (c) the money is still in the possession of the bank and records were lost or missplaced.

    In this hypothesis discussion things got a little tense on the other side of the phone. What I was told was that the third option could not have happened from BofA’s perspective. I was assured that Banks don’t make mistakes like this.

    I told them that I have contacted and worked with the State of Washington Unclaimed Property Dept. and they have told me that money was not turned over to them.

    This means that hypothetically “b & c” didn’t happen, so the only remaining hypothesisis is “a,” which I don’t believe hapened.

    I then asked them how I could prove to BofA that I did not cash out the CD. I said that it is my believe that I did not cash the CD out and that I talked to my son and he did not cash it out. But how can I prove to BofA that I didn’t do something? What document could I give them?

    They said that if I could provide them with records indicating that the account was active then I could get the money. I asked if I searched and found some record from 1984 or 1990 or 1995 and brought it in, if they would honor the CD.

    They said no, it had to be within the last 7 years. I said it sounded a bit like a catch-22 situation, in that they say there are no records in the past 7 years and I have to prove that there are records within BofA’s files and within the last 7 years and they just don’t know about them. Therefore, it is not worth my looking into my old tax records, I would have had to find something current and if there were current records, BofA would have them also. They wouldn’t comment on that.

    I asked how this can be resolved? They have no potential method of resolving this within BofA and therefore I can only try to resolve this through means outside of BofA.

    I told them that I have complaint forms for the WA State Attorney General’s office, the SEC, and will have to research the FDIC. I said that as a customer of BofA and as a stockholder of BofA, that I was not satisfied with their inability to suggest any cooperative course of action to resolve this problem. They had no comment or suggestion, but would send me a letter saying that they have no record of the CD.

  60. RSch says:

    Some updated information. I talked to the FDIC and they told me that unless the bank “failed” as in went bankrupt, the FDIC doesn’t insure deposits against bank errors, fraud, or stonewalling, just bank failure. So much for the illusion of the FDIC protecting peoples deposits.

    I talked to a couple co-workers who are on boards of directors of a credit union and got some interesting advice. I also got the advice of a finance expert in how to calculate the claim on what the CD was now worth and in a way that would seem very fair and reasonable to BofA.

    I filed a very detailed complaint with the US Comptroller of the Currency. This is the group that regulates National banks. BofA has taken that complaint very seriously and been very polite in trying to resolve things. It turns out that the person I have been talking to, who is trying to resolve this has told me that they do have microfilm from Rainier Bank days or at least some microfilm that she is trying to research to resolve this.

    Therefore, I will give BofA a star for customer relations in trying to resolve this after a complaint was filed with the right federal banking regulatory agency. I will post more if and when this gets resolved.

    I have heard nothing regarding the State of Washington Attorney General’s office complaint that I filed, which is also an interesting lesson in civics from my perspective. My complaint with the State of Washington AG focused on two areas of state law: (1) consumer protection regarding fulfilling the services promised on the face of the CD and (2)failure on the part of Rainier/BofA to follow Washington State law in regards to turning over unclaimed property.

    I have a couple more options before I give up. It turns out that the godparents to my son (the one that the CD is for) have some close friends who are fairly high up in BofA. They offered to host a dinner at which my wife and I and their BofA friends would all be present. I am going to hold off on this and hope BofA does the right thing.

    The final option is that if BofA tells me tough luck “no records = no money”, I am going to frame the CD/Bank Bond, along with the BofA letter and give it to my son to display in his office. Over the last three years he has been involved in the issuance of over a billion in debt instruments and at the moment he is the head of finance of a well known publicly traded company.

  61. RSch says:

    Well, this seems to be finally resolved for me and my family. After I submitted the complaint to the office of the comptroller of the currency, the person at Bank of America assigned to investigate my claim has been very professional and very polite.

    She was able to find records that identified the account. Again, it was not a Bond (even though that is what the document given to me by Rainier Bank says in big print); but a Certificate of Deposit. She tracked that account up until 1991 and lost it in 1992. With some help on my part she found that the particular branch where the certificate of deposit had been made, was then sold to Key Bank. She told me that she felt that the Certificate of Deposit along with other accounts was likely tranferred to Key Bank and could I check my 1992 tax information to see if it had been transferred to Key Bank.

    This weekend I was able to check old tax records and there it was a Key Bank account in about the right amount with the correct names on it.

    I want to publicly apologize to Bank of America for thinking that they were trying to cheat me.

    There are several “lessons learned” in this experience. The first is that one should keep all of ones tax & financial records pretty much forever. The second leason is that one really should organize one’s financial documents. The Bank Bond certificate should have been moved forward with each years tax records to the account they were with or when the Rainier Bank obligation became a Key Bank obligation, we should have written something on the Certificate or destroyed it. I also learned that a Certificate of Deposit is not really a transaction with a Banking Company, but is in many respects something associated wth the branch where the money is deposited. Another lesson I would like to pass along to Banks, it don’t make your certificates of deposite look like Bearer Bonds.

    All in all, we had the money although I would have never connected a Key Bank savings account with a Rainier Bank “Bond” without the help of a very nice employee at Bank of America.

    A lot of grief would have been saved if BofA had explained that the obligation may have been tranfered to another bank as a saving account and if BofA had a table of branches sold to other banks, such as Key Bank.