Bank of America Calls Your Dad, Asks If He'd Like To Pay Your Bill For You

Reader Dan says Bank of America called his old address and gave out his account details to the person who answered the phone. Luckily, that person turned out to be his father, though Bank of America didn’t know that. Once they did know they were speaking to a relative, they asked Dan’s dad to pay his bill for him.

Dan writes:

I got an interesting call from my father today. Turns out that when I moved to California and called Bank of America to change my billing info and phone number, they didn’t do it. Instead, they kept my old address and phone number, which is where my parents currently live.

I was a little late making a payment this month (my bad, and I intend to pay immediately). So, Bank of America calls the number they have on record, and the man who picks up tells them I’m not there. They then tell the man my account balance, that I’m overdue to pay, and the amount I’m overdue. Now, mind you, this is before the man they called tells them who he is. Strike one: Giving my account information to a perfect stranger who has already told them that he’s not me.

Then, when he questions the fact that they just gave him my account information, the rep asks who they’re speaking to, and he identifies himself as my father. At that point, they don’t apologize, but instead ask him, “Well, would you be willing to make a payment on his behalf?” He responds with, “No, I wouldn’t like to pay the bill for my 25-year old son.” Strike two: Asking my father, who is not on my account, the father of a 25-year old (not a 16 or 17 year old that he’s responsible for) and has nothing to do with my loan, to pay my bill.

No strike three yet, and I hope there won’t be one. I called to complain, and was forwarded to the voicemail of a call center manager. Since I’m on the west coast and it was already about 6pm my time, I’m cutting them a break and giving the benefit of the doubt that I’ll get a call back first thing tomorrow.

-Dan

That’s kind of you Dan. We wouldn’t be so generous. If you do decide you want to rid yourself of Bank of America, here’s a tip: Ask them about your interest rate.

(Photo: epicharmus )

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. BoomerFive says:

    I’m confused. You read consumerist, yet you still bank at BofA?

  2. johnva says:

    @BoomerFive: I do too. I’ve never had any problems with them.

    That being said, this is pretty bad. If it isn’t illegal to disclose that kind of information to a third-party like that, it should be.

  3. Roycester says:

    Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) says third party disclosure is a violation – but good luck enforcing it.

    this guy is real bad about it

    http://www.marauderexposed.com

  4. Alexander says:

    @BoomerFive: That’s a retarded comment. So I take it since you read the consumerist you don’t use ANY of the companies people complain about?

  5. hamsangwich says:

    Wow. Why am I too lazy to dump bofa?

  6. OnceWasCool says:

    Isn’t there a law that says the dept is paid if the creditor announces the dept to the public, family member or not?

    I think it says something to the effect that the dept is paid in full if they violate that law.

  7. johnva says:

    @alexander: Yeah, it seems like it would be hard to business with virtually any major bank, airline, cable company, phone company, etc if I refused to work with any company with bad press on here. The fact is, all big companies are going to have a certain percentages of customers that have problems with them. I don’t see a big deal with working with BoA as long as I personally haven’t had issues over a long time period. Most of the BoA problems and complaints seem to center around credit cards, overdrafts, or debit/ATM cards. None of those things apply to me since I don’t use a BoA credit card, debit card, or overdraft my account. I occasionally use an ATM card at their ATMs. No problems in 10 years.

  8. Shadowfire says:

    @alexander: Yes, I too live in a cave.

  9. Juggernaut says:

    @alexander: It might me a stupid comment… or sarcastic… or even show signs of being mentally challenged but why does it have to be retarded? Shame on you!

  10. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @Roycester:

    Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) says third party disclosure is a violation – but good luck enforcing it.

    Actually, that’s not necessarily true in this case. The FDCPA prohibits abusive, deceptive, and otherwise improper collection practices by third-party collectors. For the most part, creditors are exempt when they are collecting their own debts.

  11. blackmage439 says:

    Only two strikes? Are you kidding? The first offense of giving account information to a complete stranger would have ended the business relationship for me immediately. That is an absolute inexcusable disregard for their customer’s privacy.

    Complete and utter FAIL. BoA continues to suck, I continue to be happy canceling my accounts with them, and I continue to love the better interest rates with West Suburban Bank.

  12. Alexander says:

    @johnva: Exactly. I have two cell phone lines with Sprint and although they absolutely get grilled here on the consumerist (and deservedly so) I still haven’t had any issues with them in the 2 years I’ve had them. I also find it funny that the consumerist grills stores like Best Buy but they still post their stuff on Morning Deals. Yeah, Best Buy sucks but hey, they have this nifty router for $10 off! Go get it, then come back here to consumerist to complain about it AND then we’ll tell you how stupid you are for buying at Best Buy!

  13. mantari says:

    Amusing turn of events. Usually Gen Y’ers are eager to have their parents go talk to whomever is causing them problems. You know, teachers at school, bosses at work.

    I guess it isn’t as fun, though, when those people are the ones calling up good ‘ole mom and dad. :)

  14. anarcurt says:

    Honestly, I’m with Boomer. BofA, worst bank in America. Use it at your own risk. They have the most undertrained staff in the industry. Have a knack for losing your personal information. Have the highest fees of any bank. Their credit card practices are beyond predatory. Honestly, if you read the Consumerist on a regular basis I can’t imagine why you would bank with BofA. I’m not saying every company featured should never be used but the trail of abuse by this particular institution has to be enough for any rational person to stay away. But if you want to play Russian Roulette with your finances be my guest.

  15. BrokenGlassHurts says:

    @mantari: Huh? People send their parents to talk to their boss? I’ve never heard of that before and I’ve been around the block a few times!

  16. I thought the whole point of consumerists was to inform consumers. So that we have the necessary information to decide whether we want to do business with a company.

  17. Err, Consumerist. Not consumerists.

  18. K-Bo says:

    @mantari: Way to stereotype an entire generation. I’m also 25, and I’d rather go broke trying to fix a missed payment than to admit to my parents I had missed a payment. Forget having them fight the bank for me, that would mean admitting to them that I screwed up. They trained me to make payments on time, and if I don’t, its my problem, not theirs.

  19. johnva says:

    @mantari: Disagree. I think Gen Y is generally more responsible than their parents’ generation was at a similar age. I think that some of the problems with “helicopter parents” and such are problems with the Boomers, not with Gen Y.

  20. Edge23 says:

    So the writer says BOA did not change his billing address, but he didn’t notice that when he wasn’t getting his statements?

    Even if he went electronic, you can still view the address online.

    Yes, it is your responsibility to ensure your address and phone number are current.

    I don’t get the big deal Dan is making. They didn’t give out the details to a “complete stranger”. It was his dad.

    All his father had to do was hang up. His father did not say “You have the wrong phone number” or “The person no longer lives here” BOA assumed that the Dan was not home at moment and the person was a family member. His father also then identified himself.

    Good they told his dad. Perhaps now that shames him to pay his bills on time.

  21. Jenng says:

    You should contact your AG office and file a complaint. They are in the wrong for sharing your information with someone that was clearly not you.

  22. Edge23 says:

    @Jenng: Can you list what law was broken? Thanks.

  23. johnva says:

    @anarcurt: Well, I never have much personal contact with their staff, as I do all my banking via online banking or ATMs. I don’t use their credit cards, and I never pay them any fees. The main reason I still use them as a checking account hub (to move money to accounts at other institutions) is the huge number of ATM locations they have.

    They have also courteously and quickly fixed all minor problems I’ve had with them (for example, I once had a check post for the wrong amount due a machine reading error…admittedly my 9 looked kind of like a 4 on that check). They fixed it in under 24 hours after a 2 minute phone call. Similar experience with other minor problems.

  24. reiyaku says:

    USAA FTW!!!

  25. Me - now with more humidity says:

    once: It’s “debt” not “dept.” Learn to spell.

  26. MyPetFly says:

    @BrokenGlassHurts:

    I’ve heard second-hand stories of parents helping their children in job interviews, second-hand meaning these are people I’ve met.

  27. kalikidtx says:

    besides the collection violation take B of A to civil court and sue for private disclosure of public facts, you would have an easy open and shut case, take em down!! LOL

  28. johnva says:

    @MyPetFly: Like I said, I think that sort of thing has more to do with the parents than with “Generation Y”.

  29. laddibugg says:

    @Edge23:

    The gave personal information to a man who SAID he was Dan’s dad. In this case, that was true. At any rate, the person did NOT say he was the account holder, and therefore no infor should have been disclosed.

  30. Charred says:

    Does there need to be a third strike? At this point, I’d have a baby sledge in one hand, some 6-inch spikes in the other, and be looking for a suitable tree to nail them to!

  31. razremytuxbuddy says:

    @Edge23: From personal experience, I can assure you that the BofA system does occasionally resurrect old account info for certain functions. A local branch manager even had trouble correcting my account info when it happened to me. It is likely that from the writer’s perspective all was as it should be with his account information. It’s maddening. I’ve had mostly good experiences with BofA, but I do read the Consumerist, and am wary of the havoc BofA is capable of wreaking on my finances. I do also use a credit union and a small bank, and am convinced either of those is the way to go.

  32. jhacez says:

    This has happend to me, they actually contacted my aunt, who then contacted my grandmother and my parents. I had contacted BOA multiple times and changed my address and phone number, however i never received a call on the new number and every time i call back to change they state that no one has noted the account with the new number. Its a constant cycle

  33. K-Bo says:

    @Edge23: What did they do to actually verify it was his dad? when I’m given my own financial info over the phone, I have to verify my identity, but my dad can just say hey yeah, I’m her dad and go to town? Not to mention, there is a certain age that your parents no longer have any rights to your financial info. I’m 25, I own a house, I have a good job, my parents have no more right to my financial information than anyone else. Once they are no longer supporting me, it’s no longer their business how much money I have, what I do with it, or who I owe it to.

  34. I’ve changed my e-mail address with Bank of America five or six times, and their e-mails to me still show up at my old address. (It’s for an old job; I have access, even though I don’t use the account.) Boo!

  35. Edge23 says:

    @K-Bo: If certain laws were broken, then sue them.

  36. Edge23 says:

    After further thinking, BOA was wrong. Account info should be only be told to the card holder or authorized users. BOA should have done verifications to ensure they were talking to an authorized person.

    Banks now these days require you to create a PIN/Password and some security questions.

  37. Tank says:

    @Me: i thought he meant the whole DEPARTMENT was paid off. woot!

  38. K-Bo says:

    @Edge23: If it were me, I might just threaten to.

  39. B says:

    @Edge23: Giving out “non-public” information to anybody besides the card-holder is a violation of all sorts of banking regulations. I don’t know about suing them, but you can report this to the OCC, the OTS, the FDIC.

  40. flivvers85 says:

    Bank of America is ot a bank I would advise for anyone….ever. I honestly tink you would be better of hiding money under you matress and letting the spiders wonder why it is green. Let me tell you about my horrible stint with them.

    My fiance works a job that does not pay near as well as mone, and she needed to pay a credit card payment to BOA. We live together, pay for everything together, so on and so forth. Now the CC is her’s, but I figure, hey, Iam going to marry her, I can pay a CC payment… right. Right, they let me pay a CC payment with me SEPERATE account (because of omderm times and money making problems in rlationships, we have different accounts).
    Now I made it very clear that this would only be a one time payment, that the othe account should be billed next month as it normally would, and that she would call them and tell them when the could collect form that account.
    I may have forgotten to tell you, at that time my checking was with BOA.
    Next month rolls around and I have them take it out in the form of a check transaction, not a debit. I call BOA and tell them that this is incorrect, I did not approve this transaction. They filed a fraud claim, and said that they would get back to me.
    So they finally get back to me and said they have denied my claim, I will not be getting my money back.
    Now, again, I dont have a problem paying my fiance’s CC bill. The fact is that I did not authorize the transaction, and it was fraud with their own company.
    End result… peace out BOA.
    So my advice to you is get a lawyer. They violated a privacy agreement. Unless you have you dad on there as some one with power of attourney, they had no right to talk to him about your bill. Period.

  41. mammalpants says:

    pay up now or BoA is going to ground you on behalf of your father!

  42. smreid79 says:

    While those that point out that the Fair Debt Collection Act does not apply to in house collection agencies are generally correct, there are state laws that may still apply. In general, California’s state debt collection laws DO apply to in house collection agents. This may not be as cut and dry because you moved to California and BofA contacted a different state.

    In either case, the California Attorney General’s Office should have a consumer unit that can assist you in filing a complaint for violating the act. As far as a lawsuit, it would depend on the relevant state statute, the available damages may vary significantly.

  43. smreid79 says:

    @Edge23: The Federal Law that most are referring to is 805(b) of the fair debt collection practices act.

    Your state’s version of the act should be similarly structured, however the numbering may be slightly different.

  44. PhantomSoul says:

    I wonder if you could sue the bank in a case like this for violating your privacy rights and even exposing you to identity theft through negligent debt collectors failing to determine or consider that an authorized person to discuss the account with was not on the phone with them.

    Maybe in this case, it wasn’t so bad, since the other guy turned out to be the guy’s father. But if it had turned out to be a complete stranger, this would have lawsuit written all over it. In either case, anything less than the immediate dismissal of that clerk would have been unacceptable to me.

  45. MissGayle says:

    “I don’t get the big deal Dan is making. They didn’t give out the details to a “complete stranger”. It was his dad.

    All his father had to do was hang up. His father did not say “You have the wrong phone number” or “The person no longer lives here” BOA assumed that the Dan was not home at moment and the person was a family member. His father also then identified himself.

    Good they told his dad. Perhaps now that shames him to pay his bills on time.”

    Yeah, what if he had been estranged from his father for years because his dad was a drunken slimeball? The fact is the FDCA absolutely forbids divulging account information of any kind to anyone at all for accountholders over the legal age of majority (18). Adults have the absolute right to privacy, and the FDCA applies to all companies collecting any debts, including their own. This is straight from an attorney (not me). This guy should file a complaint with the feds immediately.

  46. annelise13 says:

    Exact same thing happened to me with a Chase credit card. They called a few weeks ago about my husband’s account, and when told he wasn’t at home asked me to authorize an auto-pay from HIS bank acccount at another bank (as in, not Chase). When I refused to do that (is that even legal if my name isn’t on any of this?), they told me I could give them my bank account information and pay it that way. I had to decline repeatedly doing so, continually telling them that I need to speak to my husband. After they finally took that answer, they asked me to verify every bit of his contact information and then asked for his work and cell phone numbers. At that point, I informed them that I was feeling very uncomfortable about the call and hung up. And then I kicked myself for even talking to them that long.

    I understand it is “our bad” regarding the late payment, but I feel the same as Dan – why are you telling me all of this info about what could’ve been a perfect stranger? If I’d told them our address was different from the one he gave, could I have diverted the bill and stolen the card number right off it?

    PS I’ve banked with BofA since 1994. No problems so far. The stories on this site worry me, but not enough to go through the hassle of changing all my accounts. And where would I go if I did – it seems like every national bank gets complaints about them posted here – and going with a credit union could make my business travel difficult.

  47. RandomHookup says:

    This is how they used to handle it at Merchant & Planters Bank. When my brother bounced a check, my mother got a call.

  48. Jim says:

    Sprint does this to me all the time. Not about missed payments, but account changes and follow-up calls.

    The best part is, they always say my parents’ number is the only one on my account…which might explain why we have so much trouble with our lovely Sprint phones.

  49. Loki_Monster says:

    Assuming that the caller actually was from BofA (not a third-party collector) the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the state consumer protection statutes modeled after it DO NOT APPLY to this emailer’s scenario.

    There are other laws that might (Gramm-Leach-Bliley, perhaps, I have no idea), but you’re wasting your time if you’re looking at the FDCPA.

  50. Loki_Monster says:

    @MissGayle: @MissGayle: Get your money back from that attorney if you paid any. He or she is WRONG.

  51. smreid79 says:

    @PhantomSoul: Unfortunately with a lot of these instances of overzealous collectors a lawsuit is not likely because you would have to prove damages that you suffered. It’s not typically enough that you were exposed to the risk of something, but that you must have actually suffered damages.

    Some state laws may provide automatic damages within the statute, however this is not generally the case.

  52. smreid79 says:

    @MissGayle: Loki is correct, the portion of the FDCA that indicates that it only applies to third parties is 803(6).

    (6) The term “debt collector” means any person who uses any instrumentality of interstate commerce or the mails in any business the principal purpose of which is the collection of any debts, or who regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another.

    The difference can be seen when comparing this language to California’s language (where the state debt collection laws would apply)

    1788.2.(c) The term “debt collector” means any person who, in the ordinary course of business, regularly, on behalf of himself or herself or others, engages in debt collection.

  53. bwcbwc says:

    Apart from whatever laws they find, odds are that they are in violation of their own privacy agreement/standards. OP’s father certainly qualifies as a “third party” under the terms of the agreement. There ARE penalties associated with that.

  54. elisa says:

    @annelise13: Are you sure it wasn’t a phisher? Sounds like it could be one to me, trying to get all your info…

  55. strathmeyer says:

    @BoomerFive: “I’m confused. You read consumerist, yet you still bank at BofA?”

    Why, who are you recommending?

  56. katoninetales says:

    Between the ages of about 15 and 23, I can recall a few times when I answered the phones of friends and relatives who were having financial problems and were being harassed by creditors and/or debt collectors, and the person on the other end of the phone assumed I was lying when I said I was not that person. I got not only the details of the accounts in question but some serious attitude. What is that all about? I understand that many people might claim to be their own babysitters or cousins to not deal with the collectors when they can’t pay, but just assuming that the person you’re talking to has any business knowing anything about the situation isn’t right.

  57. the_wiggle says:

    @alexander: yep. 10 yr sprint user: 2 problems; both resolved. 1 easily & 1 after having a lovely chat with a director. best of all – NO BILLING ERRORS.

    be darned hard to function if boycotted all the idiot businesses on here.