Your Account Is Never Really Closed At Bank Of America

Paul writes, “Did you know a “closed” checking account is never really closed? Today I walked to the local BofA for the third time to close a checking account that every month seems to magically re-open with a $5.95 account fee. What the manager told me was quite shocking.”

While checks that come in for a closed account will “bounce,” any electronic credit or debit will automatically reopen the account. So that one bill-pay with the electric co-op you forgot to change? Yep, that’ll reopen your account. That one direct deposit of the two cents of interest you earn on a CD? Yep, reopened. Or in my case, the $5.95 account fee that the first two people who “closed” my account forgot to turn off – yep, reopens the account. “All we’re doing is honoring the electronic debit agreement you signed with other merchants,” he told me. “So,” I said, “ten years from now if someone I had an agreement with previously decides they want to try and electronically deduct $200 from my account – that would reopen it.” “Yes,” says he. Seems like the transactions should just “bounce” and I should have to fix whatever problem it creates. I hate this idea of the bank trying to “help me.” At least this month the guy waived the $6 fee. Last month they made me pay it to close the account and I was in too big of a hurry to put up more than a 2 minute fight. I live in Charlotte – maybe I should pay Mr. Lewis a visit and ask him why he thinks this is good for consumers.

What strange logic. What obligation does Bank of America have to honor a contract between two other parties? None. When was the last time a bank did something out the kindness of their heart? Don’t be fooled. This practice should be illegal. They have this policy in place because they know it makes them more money from fees. Bank of America, the bank you can never break up with.

RELATED: So What You’re Saying Is Bank Of America Is Basically Powerless To Stop Credit Card Fraud?
(Photo: Meghann Marco)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. bohemian says:

    Wow. That is scary. Maybe contacting the state consumer protection agency or the banking regulators in your state?

  2. weave says:

    Yet another reason why I don’t do direct debits like that. I hate the idea of giving someone the authority to direct debit my checking account. The only one I have set up is my mortgage payment and that is held by the bank I have that checking account with.

  3. zentec says:

    Citibank must have similar policies. I had an online checking account with them and the associated debit cards and the account is still very much alive, just “inactive”. Log onto the Citibank site and I get check my zero balance, sign up for new services, etc. I had a refund that was mistakenly sent to that account and guess what, it instantly reactivated.

    I can’t unsubscribe from the mailings, I can’t close this account. La Cosa Nostra would be proud.

  4. jaydez says:

    This is another reason why I am happy as a pig in S*&t that I made my last payment on my BoA credit card last week and no longer have to be their customer.

  5. qwickone says:

    @weave: But it’s not just that. It could be a check you wrote months or years before.

  6. enm4r says:

    With as much hate as BAC gets here, no major bank has substantially different polices than any other. Chase, Citi, BAC, they’re all the same.

  7. Sam Glover says:

    Wow. I had no idea they pull that kind of crap. I have had no trouble closing several Wells Fargo accounts, for what it’s worth, so this probably is not an industry standard. Just BoA being jerks.

  8. dualityshift says:

    @qwickone: “But it’s not just that. It could be a check you wrote months or years before.”

    I’m sorry. I thought you had to cash a cheque within 6 month or it becomes “stale-dated” or void.

  9. forgottenpassword says:

    At citibank… if someone you authorized once to make a charge on a cancelled credit card account makes another charge… then it will be connected & charged to your new card. I had a POS candy company (Hometowncandy.com)who never had any plans on delivering what I paid for (and continues to operate, screwing others over the same way)… I made a chargeback & asked citibank if they decided to charge me again that it would be put thru & I’d have to deal with the false charge again. Sounds insane!

  10. scoosdad says:

    “What strange logic.”

    Indeed. Following advice of other posters in a previous BoA story here, this weekend I attempted to order an ATM-only card from BoA to keep in my wallet instead of carrying around the full Visa check card, which I had intended to keep locked up at home. (I planned to start using a credit card for daily purchases which would not directly expose my bank account to possible mis-use.)

    Nope, BoA told me, I can have one or the other, but not both. Why, I asked? It’s a security thing. Bah!

  11. stevemis says:

    American Express does the same thing with their credit cards. I suspect this practice is far more common than most people think.

  12. beavis88 says:

    @enm4r: Which is precisely why I advise everyone I know to avoid them like the plague, and find a credit union to join.

  13. Anonymous says:

    That kinda sounds like something my bank does to ‘help me’ that infuriates me. I don’t have overdraft on my account. This should mean that if I don’t have the money… it says ‘insufficent funds’ and I’ll be on my way… but it doesn’t do that. It allows my bank account to go into the negative for 24 hours. If within that 24 hours you put money in to replace the negative it’s ok, but if you miss the 24 hours, they take the money back from who ever they ‘loaned’ it to and then charge me $18.50. In fact, even if I get the money in within 24 hours, they still charge me $18.50. I’ve asked several times for them to stop doing this, but I guess it is a ‘service’ they do in order to ‘help me’… yeah, help me lose 18.50 because you let that 2 dollar bag of chips go through. grrr…

  14. nffcnnr says:

    BofA dude: “All we’re doing is honoring the electronic debit agreement you signed with other merchants.”
    Translation: “You signed up for this, d!psh!t, now gimme my money!”
    Bank of America: BANNED!!

  15. Erwos says:

    This is why you completely stop using the account for a couple of months and THEN close it. It’s also why I am very cautious about using direct debit versus a credit card.

  16. SarcasticDwarf says:

    Interestingly enough, Chase has a policy where reactivated accounts do NOT appear in your online account manager (even if you had previously had it linked). So when a debit is made from the account you will rack up a nice collection of overdraft fees for a month or so until you (hopefully) get a paper statement in the mail.

  17. mac-phisto says:

    write up a letter that states that you are closing the account effective mm/dd/yy & do not authorize them to pay anything past that date. DO NOT SIGN IT. take it into the branch & ask for a notary. sign it, have it notarized & deliver it to the account rep (9 times out of 10, they are the notary, so this should make your job easier). oh, & make sure you have a copy. it might even be wise to have the account rep acknowledge receipt of the letter.

  18. MoCo says:

    If BOA feels obligated to honor agreements signed with other merchants, then can I set up agreements with my utility companies to debit BOA accounts that don’t even exist? In other words, give a BOA routing number and unused checking account number, and then have BOA “open” an account automatically when the debits come in?

  19. jeff303 says:

    I had the exact same thing happen to a Capital One credit card. 6 months after I “closed” it there was an electronic credit issues and they silently reopened the account. On a whim (after I didn’t receive the credit where I expected to) I tried going to their website and logging in with my old credentials… voila, it worked!

  20. Froggmann says:

    “Here at Bank of (Italy) America, we can do what we want how we want because we capitalized on the rebuilding of San Francisco after the great quake/fire.”

  21. whatNameIsLeft says:

    Didn’t someone on here a while ago post that you could call and report your card as lost in this situation? If I recall once you’ve called that in you are not responsible for any further charges made on that account? Don’t know if this really applies here or not.

  22. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    I’ve had BofA pull this crap with a savings account on me before. I don’t have direct depost nor did I have over $1,000 in my account. So I was being charged $5.95 for account fees. When I went to close it they signed me up for Nuevo Futuro savings account. $25 a month transferred to savings = no account fees. I signed up and was happy for a year.

    One day I began being charged again. When I inquired why they informed me they stopped the Nuevo Futuro account. I asked when they were going to tell me, they said they mailed it out with the statements. I only get electronic statements to save paper. So she had no answer. They cancelled the account and moved all funds over. Then for 2 months kept debiting me the $25 and then re-depositing it. No one had an answer until I complained about their lack of competence. The CSR told me that the person who closed it didnt close it right. He fixed it and no more charges.

    But alas I closed that checking account out last week due to their fee increase to $8.95 a month for an account I don’t use. Bye bye BofA hello Wamu.

  23. DragonflyLotus says:

    I’m currently fighting a collection agency because of BoA’s never closing accounts. I waited a full 30 days after I had confirmed all my debits were hitting my new credit union account before I settled up with BoA. Then Geico messed up and hit the old account. Geico immediately corrected their mistake along with the overdraft fee, which made the account ‘zero’ again. I confirmed with a BoA ‘branch manager’ that the account was closed and forgot about it. Fast forward 18 months, and I get a bill from a collection agency for $734.82…all monthly service charges and overdraft fees from BoA. Not one outside vendor.

    Bastards.

  24. jamesdenver says:

    @weave:

    Yup – who on earth would give companies authorization to go straight INTO your checking account and remove money? It’s like giving someone a key to your house and piggy bank and saying “take what you need”

    If there’s a dispute the money is gone already – versus getting BILLED then paying with check or card where you can work it out before hand.

    Plus even for people that do this the bank has no business siding with the business rather than you. In many cases people have said “STOP this shady gym membership deduction” or whatever and the bank will keep processing it for as long as it comes in.

    Direct checking billing = bad bad idea.

  25. G0lluM says:

    Crap. Finding out about this too late for me. I’m already a Bank of America checking owner. Guess I’m “BOA 4 Life!!!!”

  26. nhmind says:

    I had same problem years ago with Citizen’s Bank. Direct Debit came in after account was closed. For whatever reason, bank reopened my overdraft account to cover the debit and lo and behold, I now owed them money. I paid it off the first time, but somehow it happened again, at which time, I refused to pay. Went to collections ($40)which I first disuputed and then just ignored, and every now and again, I still get a collection letter from some sleazebag company or the other….7 years and running….

  27. bsalamon says:

    they do this in ny too

  28. timmus says:

    , “ten years from now if someone I had an agreement with previously decides they want to try and electronically deduct $200 from my account – that would reopen it.”

    This is exactly what Bank of America told me back in 2001 when I had to close my business account due to someone using our ABA routing/account number to buy porn. The manager shrugged her shoulders and said that yes, another unauthorized withdrawal would open the account and there was nothing they could do. Needless to say I got all my accounts the hell out of BoA and am now banking with a regional bank.

    The American banking system is a big steaming turd.

    @JAMESDENVER: Yup – who on earth would give companies authorization to go straight INTO your checking account and remove money?

    The kicker is you don’t even have to authorize it! All a fraudster needs is a check (a disgruntled customer, for example, who gets a refund) and they just need your ABA numbers from the bottom of that check. Ouila, unauthorized withdrawal, USA style!

  29. timmus says:

    .

  30. Buran says:

    @mac-phisto: I did that to stop fraudulent carryover charges from a compromised credit card. It worked.

  31. averyml says:

    I had the same problem with Fifth-Third once. When I moved from Ohio to Connecticut I closed the account. Months later, I used paypal to pay for a purchase, and somehow managed to select my old Fifth-Third account instead of my new checking account, without realizing it. Of course, I moved, so I didn’t receive any overdraft notices they may have sent to me, and didn’t notice it until a month later when I wondered why my payment for the item I received was not deducted from my account. Then Fifth-Third tried to tell me that I could only cancel my account by going to the original bank I opened it at and closing it in person…Drive 13 hours to re-close an account I already closed once? Yeah right.

  32. deadlizard says:

    Reason millionth-and-one to join a credit union.

  33. whirlybird says:

    @deadlizard: Please provide incontrovertible proof that no credit union, anywhere, ever does this, or STFU about credit unions. Thank you.

  34. yourbffjill says:

    I joined BoA when I first moved just so I’d have a place to put my money while researching other banks. About two weeks later I pulled it all out and closed my account.

    Unaware of BoA’s reputation, I did not follow up, and exactly 1 year later (to the day) I received a notice in the mail telling my my account with a 0 balance had been closed per my request.

    I still don’t know why they didn’t charge me a bunch of fees during that year, but I won’t ask questions, I’ll just consider myself lucky…

  35. floydianslip6 says:

    @dualityshift: Not true. It’s supposed to but it doesn’t always work that way. I found a small check from a friend that was 2 years old and tried to cash it anyway to see what would happen. I waited until it was the correct month that the check was written in.

    They never looked at the year, and apparently neither did the banks larger check center either. I got the money and the day went on.

  36. snoop-blog says:

    it simple, just say your card got stolen right before you want to close your account. don’t use the new card, close your account. any old card transaction that would try to go through wouldn’t because the numbers on the card are connected to a stolen card.

  37. Charybdis says:

    @enm4r:

    There are very few instances where Chase will reopen a zero-balance closed account. Debit card transactions (unless the customer has claimed debit card fraud), paper withdrawals, transfers between two subsequently closed accounts, deposited item returns, and other similar non-returnable transactions are about it. Usually we’re reopening because either someone screwed up and we’re letting them reverse themselves or because the customer is kiting and we’re going to let the account charge off. Fees and service charges are always returned internally unless needed to zero the account out.

  38. VeeKaChu says:

    Stories like these are why I never, ever, EVER authorize or activate any automatic deductions for anything, at anytime.

  39. Nodren says:

    My wife works at a bank of america call center, and let me say this, going into a branch to fix a problem is a horrible idea. The people at the branch know absolutely nothing about the bank, or the systems involved. We changed her single checking account to a joint one, and she actually told the personal banker how to do it!

    Basicly, if you hear some BS like that from a person at a physical branch, no matter how high up on the BofA food chain they are, call up the call centers, escalate if need be to a supervisor, they will be able to close your account with out it “Reopening”

  40. SpdRacer says:

    @beavis88: CU’s are great, but they are getting as bad as banks with the fees and other assorted bull. My CU, charges a dollar if I use my PIN # for a transaction instead of running it like a credit card. So when I use it, they hold that dollar because they say they have no way of knowing whether it was a check/credit transaction or a debit one. This is complete and utter crap, b/c they can tell, and just like to try and get more fees, b/c on at least 2 occasions they tried to charge me an overdraft fee, oh wait I’m sorry an overdraft PROTECTION fee of 25$, because they held that dollar and it made the account under by a few cents. BASTARDS! If there was a better option I would jump on it, but they are still better than any bank around here.

  41. ncboxer says:

    More than likely you won’t be able to get to the floor that Mr. Lewis works at (if he is even there). You might try visiting him in Stonecroft, where he supposedly has a home.

  42. mookiemookie says:

    “What obligation does Bank of America have to honor a contract between two other parties?”

    Reg E says they do. The reason they do this is because it’s the law.

  43. jamesdenver says:

    @snoop-blog:

    This isn’t about cards – it’s about the actual checking account – with routing numbers.

  44. poundfoolish says:

    I opened an account with BofA a few years ago. At the time, they required that I get a savings account along with the checking account. They then proceeded to LOSE the initial deposit for the checking account, which was then automatically closed for zero balance….so my ATM card didn’t work.

    Luckily, I save my deposit receipts, and they were able to find the money. I asked what time the money would be available in the account. They said 3pm. I showed up at 3:30pm to withdraw all my money and close both accounts.

    At each stage of customer service, they reiterated that “any bank could have made this mistake”. I used the analogy of the “bad first date” to try to drive home the point that I wasn’t leaving the branch without my money in cash.

  45. laserjobs says:

    BANK OF AMERICA = BANK OF FEES

    You need to watch them like a hawk if you bank with them. They are the bank that has been changing low rate credit cards to 36% APY without any change in customers credit.

  46. razremytuxbuddy says:

    I had the never-closed account experience with BofA about 3 years ago. It’s troubling that they are still doing it.

  47. mrstephengross says:

    I have a rule for myself these days. Never ever ever ever allow ANYONE to debit your account. You can set up auto bill pays to be outgoing from your account. But never ever ever allow anyone to take money FROM you without your immediate knowledge. They have no incentive to keep your interests at heart. Protect your money.

  48. jmschn says:

    Why are people so surprised? Banks don’t want to be involved in agreements the consumer made with a 3rd party. Automatic debit is contractual and simply closing an account to avoid paying the monthly debit (and avoiding the guidelines of the contract) is illegal in itself! Consumer needs to deal with 3rd party. Otherwise, if debits persist, then you file a fraud claim with bank and that’s when they step in.

  49. azntg says:

    Cue Max (of Sam and Max) yelling “WHY WON’T YOU DIE?!?”

    I think just about all banks out there will maintain your account after it’s “closed,” to deal with any debits (or more unlikely credits) that happens after it’s closed.

    Personally, I think that’s a prudent move on the bank’s part. After all, who’s to say that a person will close his account and flee after deliberately getting other services to charge to the “closed” account or have an honest mistake and close the account before all original charges clear.

    HOWEVER, I don’t think banks should be keeping the “closed” account dormant indefinitely. There should be a clearly delineated ending point. If banks can’t be trusted to finally close and delete from records, the gubbamint should start regulating and (god forbid) ENFORCE IT.

  50. kamel5547 says:

    @dualityshift:

    Well, a bank is not “obligated” to pay it. However in practice that would require the banks to verify the dates on checks, guess at what their customer wants in each case and generally spend money doing something that will not generate a profit.

    Odds are your check will be honored as the law does not state banks must not honor it, but rather that they do not ahve to honor it.

    More here:
    [www.legalmatch.com]

  51. dualityshift says:

    @floydianslip6: I think if it was your cheque, and you wrote it 2 years ago, if the person cashed it, you would have a case for getting your money back. After 6 months, the cheque is void. If they do not check the date, not your problem.

  52. dualityshift says:

    @kamel5547:
    Just another way to screw the client and protect the fat cats.

  53. vastrightwing says:

    Thank you for this info! This is the exact same thing that happened to me with American Express: I had signed an agreement to pay my timeshare each month using my Amex card. I later had buyer’s remorse and decided to stop paying the high payments to the timeshare, but NO, NO, NO! American Express would not stop the electronic payments from the Timeshare company. I tried to close the card, change my number, all in vain. In the end, I stopped paying American Express and that stopped the automatic payments, but ruined my credit. I still refuse to pay the balance since if I do, I fear my account will magically re-open and the charges will start all over again. NO WAY!

    Lesson? Never, ever allow anyone to auto-debit your bank account or credit card. EVER! No health clubs, no security companies, no one! Setup auto payments from your bank to go out, but don’t give written permission for anyone to auto debit your account. This is horrible and will ruin you. Guaranteed!

  54. Copper says:

    @qwickone: No it couldn’t. The first line of the quoted part of the article says: “While checks that come in for a closed account will ‘bounce’

  55. wesrubix says:

    @weave: amen to that! And on top of it, people should be responsible and change all of their accounts tied to one they plan to cancel before canceling it. What a novel idea.

  56. KJones says:

    Imagine for a minute this were a brokerage firm instead of a bank, and a third party makes a computer generated offer to buy shares from all shareholders.

    Now imagine the brokerage firm accepts the offer, sells the shares, and charges you a brokerage fee, all without you permission.

    If Meryll Lynch or someone else did this, the SEC would be all over their asses. Why should banks be allowed to take your money without your permission? Because you’re not worth millions in deposits?

  57. shadow735 says:

    because of that overdraft protection you get socked with a $25 overdraft fee, lovely. I bank with WAMU and got duped for $75 because three charges under 10 bucks each went thru the kicker here is I have plenty of money in my savings account.
    I previously had banked at a credit union and if I over drew from my checking account they would draw the $ from my savings account before the overdraft protection would kick in.
    Seems the “I want to suck your money” syndrome kicks in before the ” great service to the customer” common sense did.
    Oh well I learned from that mistake.
    WAMU no fees is a load of bull, its the small print crap, using ATM of another bank that costs,over the limit of transferes from savings account and all the lovely invisable fees that will pop up.

  58. teapartys_over says:

    I don’t understand how they are “honoring” their agreement (or yours) with third party vendors. They aren’t paying the requested debits, since there’s no money in the account. then they are charging you an overdraft fee after they reopen the account to not pay the debit? That just sounds like outright fraud. The alternate scenario, where Netflix tries to bill your account, account is closed and they contact you for alternate billing info, is more reasonable and doesn’t cost you anything. Ridiculous.

  59. enm4r says:

    @Charybdis: I don’t actually bank with Chase, but I was under the impression that all of the 3 majors will reopen a consumer bank account if they receive an ACH debit. The problem is that consumers aren’t afforded the same services that businesses are, because a business can just throw up an ACH block on any account before it closes, no questions asked.

    The real question is why that doesn’t happen internally with every closed consumer account. Once closed, an automatic ACH block is setup, and any debits received are rejected. It’s the only policy that makes any sense, and none of the major banks do it.

  60. camille_javal says:

    To all of those talking about how this is another reason why they would never sign up for direct debit – it’s not just debit. I, too, won’t sign up for direct debit – it skeezes me out, and I like to control when I pay things. However, it’s also reactivated by any stray or mistaken direct deposit – which means, in this BoA case, your fees starting up again. How many of you who won’t do direct debit do ever use direct deposit?

  61. opposablethumb says:

    About 9 years ago, I spent most of a year working in Silicon Valley and needed to open a checking account for use while I was there. After treating me like a criminal for wanting to open an account, the BofA next door to the office finally activated the account. After leaving the state, I tried closing the account by phone numerous times (phone menu hell didn’t even offer a way to do it and I was completely unable to get to a human) and finally sent a registered letter to the woman who opened the account for me. It was signed for, but I never heard from her. The account remained open, but with $0 balance. I got a couple of nastygrams from BofA, but wrote “Account Closed” on them and sent them back. I never heard any more about it and nothing appeared on my credit report. I vowed never to have anything more to do with BofA.

    Fast forward several years. I had a credit card account with MBNA. Imagine my joy when they were bought out by BofA. Bank of America immediately raised the interest rate on it to 29% and doubled the minimum payment amount. Repeated calls were either hung up on or sent into “Let me transfer your call” oblivion. After two months of that, I took out a loan and paid off the balance. Even then, they had the absolute gall to charge me another partial month’s interest from the day they sent the statement until they got the check paying off the account, even thought the check was received well before the due date on the statement. BofA is sleazy beyond belief and raises corporate greed to unheard of heights. I have to wonder how the people who work for such an organization can look at themselves in the mirror. Then again, they probably don’t ooze out from under their rocks when there’s enough daylight to use a mirror.

  62. JHoward88 says:

    I bank with a local credit union and Wells Fargo. I did have an account with BoA once, and my impression of them was that they had poor customer service compared to other banks. I closed my account with them a couple years ago now.

  63. XTC46 says:

    @qwickone: actually, it says specifically checks will bounce, auto payments and electronic transactions will r open it. So giving somone a check and they try to cash it 2 years later will not do anything.

  64. SarcasticDwarf says:

    @Copper: Checks for a closed account for Chase (at least as of a couple years ago) DO NOT bounce.

  65. shadow735 says:

    I thought most checks cannot be cashed after 6 months, after 6 months they are uncashable.

  66. fostina1 says:

    ive had bofa for about 8 years. one day i cant use my card. it turns out they stopped it for fraudulent use. i checked my statement and it was a 0.98 charge for some company in mexico. they said i probably had a keylogger or something on my computer. but they didnt pay they 0.98 and they got me a new credit/debit card, and i havent had another problem since.

  67. SactoKev says:

    And this is why my friends who work at BofA (big commercial loan stuff) say they themselves will NEVER bank there.

  68. jdmba says:

    ING Direct and Fidelity Investments similarly will not delete your account once you cancel.

  69. enm4r says:

    @jdmba: I guess along those lines, I too get prospectuses for funds I had years ago with American Funds, but no longer do business with. I get their annual, as required by law, type information. No account info, they must keep a separate database with what funds they have to send to who, because that’s all I continue to receive.

  70. mrosedal says:

    I had the same problem. They told me that it would remain in that state for 90 days not forever though. When I was on the phone I was quite upset, and the lady seemed to think that it was normal for all banks (and no it isn’t my wife works at one now). Her response was that I needed to make sure no one debited my account…and I, rather irately, asked how I could possibly prevent someone from doing that on my account other than closing it like I already did! Fortunately she saw my point though she couldn’t change anything. They did wave all of my fees so I left happy…sort of.

  71. mac-phisto says:

    do banks charge account close fees anymore? i remember going with my dad back in the mid-90′s to close a first union (now wachovia) account…they charged him ~$55 fee to close the account. he was pretty ripped. i haven’t seen an instance of this since, though.

  72. bohemian says:

    I think these need to be called zombie bank accounts.

  73. bigboat says:

    When you close a bank account, get a letter from the bank saying the account is closed. Frame it, but not too nice in case you need to show it somewhere. If, when you close your bank account, they will not give you a letter stating to that effect, ask them why.

    Get the letter.

  74. elisa says:

    @averyml: My mom had a similar problem with Fifth Third when we moved from Ohio to California some years ago. We had direct debiting for some life insurance policies. My mom closed the Fifth Third account (in person) and transferred everything to new California bank accounts. But the Fifth Third account JUST…WOULDN’T…CLOSE. And they would sometimes debit from both the CA and 5/3 accounts, and sometimes from neither. The insurance company didn’t know what was going on either. We kept calling Fifth Third, and they kept trying to get us to COME IN PERSON to close the account. Apparently they didn’t understand the concept of 2,000 miles between Ohio and California, they kept asking why we wanted to close the account as well. In the end, we had to talk to many many supervisors before we closed the account. And one of the life insurance policies got cancelled too because of nonpayment. My mom gave up on getting Fifth Third to reimburse her for all the lost time and interest, and just counted herself lucky that they’d actually closed the account. She still wonders sometimes if it’ll pop open again somehow…

    MORAL: STAY AWAY FROM FIFTH THIRD if you are ever going to move out of Ohio! (While were in Ohio, they were pretty nice. But it’s not worth the hassle if you’re ever going to move).

  75. jgoforth says:

    as a side note, the $5.95 charge that he is seeing, is one that I had mysterously start showing up on my wachovia checking account each month as “Other Pfm Monthly ACCESS FEE”. I went to the bank and asked about it, apparently it is coming from Microsoft Money. I tried it out, but ended up not using it, but unknown to me, apparently they started using my bank information to charge me for the service of collecting my information, regardless of whether I even continue to have the program installed on my computer. I haven’t yet had time to deal with it yet.

  76. deadlizard says:

    @whirlybird: Since credit unions are owned by the members and not for profit, I think it’s a good bet they don’t do crap like this.

  77. Charybdis says:

    @enm4r:

    There are three times we would pay an ACH on a Closed (zero balance) or In Process of Closing (+/- balance) account.

    1) There is a positive or negative balance to cover this transaction. Our goal is to get the account to zero so we will pay ACH debits or credits to do so. In the case of fraud the balance should already have been transfered prior to placing the account in an In Process of Closing status, therefore we assume the ACH was anticipated in that transfer. We pay neither on a zero-balance Closed account unless…

    2) We receive a notification from a banker to post the ACH, either to this account because it’s being reactivated (likely closed automatically at a zero balance, much to the customer’s surprise) or to another account.

    3) We have one or more other transactions that wash this ACH. Usually this means a paper withdrawal for the amount of an ACH credit, but it can also be transfers, fee reversals, and the like. Audit requires us to wash them on the account rather than washing them internally. This way they customer can see that the transactions did post. We do not leave an account open after washing.

    Keep in mind this is how things are supposed to work, but that mistakes do happen.

  78. PollockRoc says:

    I had a problem similar to this when closing a Capital One credit card that I had. Apparently, after you call to close the account, one full 30 day billing cycle must pass with no activity on the account before it is actually “closed”.

    Charges can still be made to the account, as I found out when an automatic credit protection plan was charged to my account and went months collecting late charges and finance charges because the payments weren’t being made. I only found out about it when I noticed my credit ranking going into the tank, and saw that it was due to not making payments on a Capital One account that I had supposedly “closed” months before.

    I ended up on the phone with Capital One customer service for more than an hour fixing it. They were actually very helpful once I got a supervisor on the phone. She helped me get the initial charge that re-opened the account removed and then rescinded all of the finance/late charges.

  79. LAGirl says:

    they’ve been doing this for YEARS.

    back in the early 90′s, i decided to leave the country + travel Europe. i settled all of my affairs, including closing out my Bank of America checking account. i confirmed with the teller that it was ‘closed’ and that there wouldn’t be any additional fees or charges after it was closed.

    once i got back to the US, i decided to check my credit reports. to my surprise, there was a charge-off from B of A for about $20! i figured out that they had put through monthly account charges AFTER i’d closed the account. i never received any notice from them regarding this charge, even though i’d left a forwarding address in the US.

    happy to say, i disputed this item and had it removed from all three credit reports.

    it’s amazing that they are still pulling this crap after all these years.

  80. Ailu says:

    I think a class action suit is in order. Anyone?

  81. LAGirl says:

    one more thing…i do think this is standard policy within the industry.

    i had a similar experience with a Capital One credit card. i had subscribed to a magazine over a year ago. the rate was cheaper if you paid up front on your credit card. i decided to take advantage of the savings. the problem? at renewal time, they put through the charge again on that card, even though i didn’t renew the subscription. AND, the card i used for the original subscription was CLOSED due to FRAUD. Capital One let the charge go thru the old account number, and just transfered it to the new card number. the whole point of closing the old card was to prevent any additional unauthorized activity.

    when i called Capital One, they said there was nothing they could do to prevent this from happening again. i would need to call + dispute any other charges that appeared that weren’t authorized. i asked if a note could be placed on my account, that NO charges should be put thru for the old card number. they said nope, couldn’t be done.

    i can’t figure out what the advantage is to the credit card company to do this. but clearly, they act in their best interest, not the customer’s, so it must be of some benefit to them.

    maybe we need to start writing our congressmen/women about this issue.

  82. mac-phisto says:

    @LAGirl: the problem there is with the card networks. capital one is required by the network to post a recurring payment to the account. there are advantages to this method for all parties involved, but as you state, there are also disadvantages.

    there are only 2 methods for stopping a recurring payment through a credit card. 1) if it’s fraudulent & an investigation proves that your magazines are actually going to someone in cambodia, capital one can have the recurring entry stopped. however, if upon investigation, it proves that you are, in fact, receiving the service/merchandise/whatever, it cannot be stopped by the card issuer (capital one). in this case, 2) you need to contact the merchant & dispute the charge/cancel the service.

    there are reasons that these rules are in place. for one, let’s say you have your electric bill set up on recurring thru a credit card & your credit card is stolen. you forget to let the electric co. know about & suddenly your lights get turned off. second, your cc company is not meant to be a mediary for you. the network isn’t designed to allow you to break agreements by refusing payment. it does allow for remedies if agreements are broken, but chargebacks weren’t designed for “i didn’t want this so now i’m not paying for it”.

    unfortunately for you, magazine cos. are particularly shady. many times they offer “free trials” or “reduced subscription rates”, but when you sign up, somewhere in the fine print, you are agreeing to renewal. in a case like yours, a chargeback would rule in favor of the merchant & capital one would be required to honor payment until you cancel the agreement with the merchant.

  83. UASteph says:

    You could not pay me to bank with BoA. I had my first checking account with them when I turned 16, many moons ago. They bounced five checks for the hell of it when I had plenty of money in the account to cover them. I was able to prove it with copies of my statements (that they issued…hmmm…), yet they acted like they were doing me a favor by refunding the NSF fees. And I still had to go around to all the merchants to cover the checks.

    We have a mortgage with Countrywide, and I cringed when I found out they’d been bought by BoA. Time to refi…

  84. Nogling says:

    I’m still fighting BoA, two years down the road, over fraudulent debits.

    *hits button on the WayBack Machine*

    I opened a shiny new BoA checking account to make depositing my paycheck easier – my employer of the moment used BoA. I had precisely four transactions – two deposits (my paychecks), and two withdrawals. My account balance was $10 and change. Essentially, all I did was withdraw most of my paycheck and used cash for all of my transactions. My check card was never activated. My box of checks remained pristinely wrapped in plastic.

    My first statement arrived, and, much to my surprise, my account was overdrawn by nearly $700. Needless to say, I was amazingly upset. I went in and spoke with the employee who had opened the account. I brought my statement. I indicated that I had deposited two paychecks and immediately withdrew an equivalent amount of cash – the only four valid transactions on my account. According to the timestamps on my statement, while withdrawing my second paycheck, I was apparently simultaneously using my unactivated debit card at a department store 1500 miles from my home. I explained several times that such things were, in fact, physically impossible, as no one has yet managed to figure out a way to be two places at once. Eventually, after an interrogation that would’ve put Bad Lieutenant to shame, they “closed” the account.

    Fast forward nearly a year. I’m trying to purchase my first home. I pull my credit report, and lo and behold, I have a mysterious $1800 charge-off from my old BoA account number. Again, I am amazingly upset. Again, I go in to the branch where the account was opened and raise Cain. Again, I am interrogated as to my “usage” of a unactivated debit card some 1500 miles or so from my present location. The account has been reopened, address and contact information changed, and during the two and a half hours I spent in the branch, the debit card was used FOUR TIMES. In another state.

    No one at BoA has been able to explain to me how the account was compromised. No one can explain why it was allowed to rack up such an impressive negative balance. No one can explain how the account was charged off, then re-opened. And no one can seem to accept that I am not simultaneously in Florida AND Oklahoma.

    And people ask me why I no longer have a checking account with ANYONE…

  85. FLConsumer says:

    @deadlizard: That’s one of the weakest justifications for a CU that I’ve ever heard. And yes, there are plenty of credit unions out there which pull this exact same crap, have hidden fees, etc. CUs started off as a good idea but have blossomed into the same behemoth that banks have evolved to.

    For kicks, what would be the legal ramifications of sending a certified, return-receipt letter to BOA HQ requesting the closure of your account and to block any and all future ACH transactions on said account? Would that be enough to keep BOA from pulling crap like this?

  86. APFPilot says:

    I just talked with their Executive Customer service about this. I had an account that was debited fraudulently from PayPal. I moved all of my money to a new account but left that one open for a couple of incoming deposits (that couldn’t be changed.) Now that all of those deposits are done I asked her to close the account and inquired about the re-opening thing. She said that while it is true that a request will re-open the account it is only for 30 days and is by federal law FWIW.

  87. BlakeCU says:

    Penalties, late fees, hidden charges… we’re lining the pockets of credit card companies with $8 billion in fees every year. Where is the love??? Go to http://www.creditcardreform.org and with one click you can send a Valentine’s postcard to your Representative and Senators telling them it’s time to kiss credit card rip-offs goodbye! Consumers Union will hand deliver your postcards on Valentine’s day to tell your legislators it’s time for real reforms in credit card company practices.

  88. jrs235 says:

    Ask Bank of America to show you the electronic debit agreement you signed with other merchants.

  89. regexp says:

    When closing an account – don’t call them. Send a certified letter that states clearly to CLOSED the account. They should respond with a letter stating that the account was CLOSED. Keep both records. Never had an issue with any bank including BoA.

    I have had issues with switching credit cards in which the CC issuer insisted that the card remain open for an additional 60 days for any “remaining charges” to come through. The action is simple at this point – report the card lost or stolen. That card will be deactivated that very instant.

  90. SweetAtheist says:

    I unfortunately have a credit card with BoA and recently I decided to remove the auto-pay from my account and did this 21 days before the next scheduled payment. The guy in the auto-pay dept. told me no problem since you called 3 weeks in advance and told me it was all taken care of and I hung up. In the meantime I make a regular payment by check. Then on the auto-pay date they took out another payment making 3 items bounce costing me almost $400 in deductions and fees. I call BoA and ask what is going on and I get attitude. I was livid. I said now I cannot pay my bills that are due and the bitchy person from CUSTOMER SATISFACTION department told me they would put the money back within 24 hours, but they would not reimburse me for the overdraft fees. I said, ok YOU MAKE A MISTAKE and I have to pay for it? She said ma’am we cannot refund your money only the payment, which I know this is bullshit and she knows I know it. She then said she would transfer me to another department for that and promptly disconnected our phone call. Well that was last Thursday (1-31-08) and today (2-5-08) still no money put back into my account. I called again this morning after checking my account and still no money had been posted so with a cracking in my voice I pleaded and calmly stated my case with a different person to pleaseeeeee reimburse my money. He came back after putting me on hold and said he also reimbursed me for the overdraft fees. It’s all in who you get on the phone and your attitude during the conversation. I can hope my money is in there tonight or tomorrow. Wish me luck!

  91. xVAGUE says:

    This isn’t necessarily true -

    Accounts have different closing codes, some say close in 30 days with a 0 balance, some say close in 90 days at a 0 balance. The closing code they should be using is close at a 0 balance in one business day.

    Accounts will not close the next business day if there is a balance on it, positive or negative. If something comes in it will make things worse.

    I understand that this is a pain in the ass for you. Don’t visit your local bank, call and ask to speak to a supervisor directly. Calmly let them know your situation and ask them to close it for you, even going as far as asking them to monitor it so that it closes properly. Ask for the supervisors name and unit number or contact information (this is very important), then ask them for a closing statement. They can send one out to you when the account closes (not at the time they speak to you, so you may have to wait).

  92. ReallyMe says:

    I had a similar experience with B of A some years ago. I would suggest closing you account via certified letter with someone to sign for it.

    In one personal experience involving a different merchant (banks are too merchants) I had to complain to the CA State Atty General for the merchant to stop demanding more money after my account was closed. In that case they had twice written that my account was closed with a zero balance. Later their customer retention department dreamed up a 150.00 “cancellation fee” which was not in any of their disclosures. To make things worse it turns out this was just an attempt to convince me to keep my account open with them, REALLY!!!

    The sad part is that the CA State Atty’s office is just too busy to do anything but read the company out and point the law out to them (they did stop them though). Personally, I think they should have hung their CEO, and I don’t usually agree with death penalty sentences.
    Ed

  93. JZimmerman says:

    I’ve had problems with BofA. First they claimed I had not deposited a paycheck. Even with the receipt, the bank manager told me, ” We don’t have any teller with the name written on the receipt.” They closed my accont, because “We only handle personal accounts, because the government says we have to.”
    The second time ( I opened a new account at another branch) they close by account because, ” I had too many overdrafts.” At $35 a pop, I don’t know how my 6 overdrafts in 9 months actually hurt Bank of America!

  94. michaelduff says:

    No matter what the issue is, some commenter always says, “This is why I never use X.”

    Somebody needs to put together the profile of the perfect Consumerist reader.

    1. Never uses debit cards.
    2. Photographs all contracts before and after signing with the with face of the company representative in the photo.
    3. Photographs rental cars from all sides before and after use.
    4. Never uses gift cards.
    5. Never signs for certified mail.
    6. Records all customer service calls and posts them on a publicly available web site.
    7. Mounts a video recorder on his shoulder to document all in-person transactions.

    I voided my social security number and pay all debts with a stash of 1974 currency!

    I replaced all investments with a stack of gold bricks that I keep in my pantry!

    I shot my regional postman and buried him in my vegetable garden!

    Alpha Consumer 1, Corporate America 0!

  95. junglee069 says:

    I had an account with BofA from 1994-1998. From 1998-2005 I banked elsewhere – was sick of BofA.

    In 2005, I found myself back at BofA. After having opened an account there, a few conversations with CSR’s have ended with ‘thanks for being a customer since 1994′!

    I could never figure that out!! Maybe this explains it.

  96. joemm210 says:

    Something like this happened to me too, I had closed my Bank of montreal credit card and at that time was living with a friend after I moved away and then came back for a visit 2 years later, my friend had just got the mail and there was a bill from bank of montreal (he usually just puts a rts on it.

    So I open it and they reopened my account because xbox live charged my yearly sub fee, so for 2 years I paid the fee and didnt make any payments on the credit card so it caused me to have bad credit.

  97. cuda says:

    I was ripped off by a travel advantage company and tried to cancel. After that failed I called AMEX and told them to block the transactions and I had proof I was not getting the service promised.

    They told me they could NOT block that transaction so I asked to get different cards. They refused. So I told them I was going to report them stolen to get new cards and was informed they would simply give the new information to the merchant. WHAT!!!!???

    It turns out some companies get into these nice agreements with banks to pull off these scams. The parent company is Trilegiant. They own about 200 companies with various names. They have been raided by the FBI and sued along with several banks for other scams. They are the ones that send those 10 dollar “refund” checks from your bank that if you cash sign you up for scams.

    Our company charges about 800K through AMEX and I am the CEO. So I canceled all my AMEX business cards and at that point I started getting some calls. “are you really going to cancel this relationship over 14.95 a month?” So I simply repeated what he just said right back to him! AMEX is the one that wanted to through away 10K a year in profits to protect Trilegiants 14.95 scam.

    They then agreed to remove the charge and block further charges. I then agreed to keep the account open. Once I got my money back for past months I closed the account anyway. Too risky to have a credit card company that backs the merchants.

    If you are bored call your bank and ask them if they do any work with Trilegiant or the hundreds of companies they represent. I found almost all of them do. If you rent a truck, car or anything with travel and they try and transfer you to a service to save 5% or so…..beware….all these “advantage services” are a rip off.

  98. Anonymous says:

    What other organization would insult and alienate 10 percent of their customer base by tripling interest rates on credit cards. Bank of Moronica doesn’t care. Customers are being penalized for the bad decisions these buffoons made. I doubt these customers are in the market for in the future. additional services

  99. Anonymous says:

    Bank of America refuses to close an account that has had fraudulent activity. They say that if any ACH transactions come through after the account is closed it automatically re-opens the account and will cause the account to go into a negative status. There is no way to prevent this from happening and they are unable to ensure that the account is closed permanently. The only recourse that the customer has in regards to these charges and fees is to file a dispute every time it happens and/or to contact all of the merchants/businesses to not put the money through. Any time someone puts through a fraudulent or forgotten ACH transaction, it is put through or returned by the bank, the account is re-activated and fees are charged. We are told that the fees will continue to accrue until the investigation is complete and they won’t guarantee that you will get all of your money back. They also will not pay the bounce check fees that are accrued by merchants on payments made unknowingly after the fraudulent activity. All of the representatives have a different story that has caused more fees to accrue and more fraudulent charges. I read all of the information received when opening the account and found that there is no mention anywhere on how to close an account and that it takes at minimum 3 months from the date of last activity for the account to close semi-permanently. I have heard of some accounts being re-activated up to 2 years after they were closed and the victim is unaware of the active negative accruing account until it shows up on their credit or can’t write a check somewhere.