WaMu Doesn't Care You Could Be Stranded In Himalayas With No Money

Lila got her Washington Mutual debit card pickpocketed while traveling in India. Naturally, her account was drained. She filed a fraud report with Washington Mutual and a got a temporary credit issued on the account while the case was investigated. Less than 3 days later, the credit was reversed without warning. It’s not WaMu’s policy to reverse provisional credits in these matters before 30 days have passed to investigate, and not without warning. None of the various reps and fraud personal could explain why this happened, nor could they give her her money back, nor could they connect her with anyone who would or could do anything. Supervisors are mysteriously never around. It’s a good thing she already had some Rupees in hand when the theft occured, or Lila could have been stranded in the Himalayas while WaMu reps were busy playing Snood. Her complaint letter, and our advice on how to be more effective, inside…

Thursday May 29, 2008

To Washington Mutual Management and Whom It May Concern,

I am not typically the kind of person who writes emails to large companies where the people on the receiving end are probably just overworked, and bored individuals in suits who could careless about me and my concerns. In fact I assume the majority of angry letter writers out there are well over their 60’s, but I am still under the age of 25. Still I am compelled to write in the hopes that someone in one of the offices out there will take a second to look at the appalling customer service that patrons such as my self are receiving on our end of the WAMU customer service phone lines.

Let me please explain my situation. Recently I have been in frequent contact with Washington Mutual due to the theft of my debit card. I spent the last about 6 months in India on a study abroad program. Around April in the city of Hyderabad, while on my way to another more remote part of the country, I was pickpocket and my debit card was stolen. I unfortunately did not fully realize that the card had been stolen until I was already in the far north area of India. Needless to say by the time I was able to contact my mother in the United States, through email, and her able to act on the situation, the perpetrator had already drained my account. Had I not already of had some money in Indian Rupees would I have been practically stranded in the Indian Himalayas. As soon as we could my mother and I started the claims process with Washington Mutual. I was issued an amount of provisional credit, contingent on the fact that I would have to sign an affidavit back in the United States.

Once returned to the United States I did sign and mail the affidavit. I was under the expressed impression that the provisional credit would last for at least 30 days, while the case was being examined. Unbeknownst to me the provisional credit was reversed less than 72 hours later. I received no email, letter or phone call to inform me of this situation so I continued to use my debit card, believing the provisional credit to be true and valid.

On May 24th I decided to sign up for Wamu online banking, previously I had just tried to keep a written record of my accounts. It was then, through the online banking that I realized my account was in the negative, mostly due to 264 us dollars worth of overdrawn fee’s.Then I saw that the provisional credit had been reversed on May 12th, after only being issued on May 9th.

I decided to call the customer service to investigate the situation more clearly. The women on the form told me that the customer service could not help me, that I had to call the claims department and that they were not open on memorial day weekend. She offered little consolation and absolutely no explanation. I called again on Tuesday, and after a 39 minute wait received the claims department. They gave me the run around and told me to call back on Weds. So I called back again on Weds. and had another nearly 30 minuted wait to reach the claims department.

This time I reached someone named Douglas who was very friendly and reassured me the matter was being investigated, but he could not explain why the provisional credit had been reversed. He admitted it was not their policy to reverse credit before the 30 day investigation policy, and not without communication to the account holder. I asked him if anything could be done about the eight $33 overdraft fee’s that were a direct result of the provisional credit being reversed without my knowledge. He told me he would notate my account and transfer me back to customer service to see if they could help me. I had previously deposited $450 into my account to have it directly eaten up by the negative balance. Being transferred back to customer service was a horrible affair. No one would help me, and each person said that it was only up to the claims department to reverse the charges now. The phone call ended with me literally in tears when the manager of customer service hung up me.

I called back again today, Thursday May 29th, hoping to reach Douglas again. Although for some reason he was unavailable, I did reach another associate in the claims department who was friendly and sympathetic. I explained to her that this situation had gone on for days, and I was down to my last $20. If this situation didn’t get resolved soon I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent, or my bills. Although considerate and helpful, she said the issue was under review but she did not have the power to help me and none of the supervisors who could were around.

Now it is Thursday afternoon and this issue has yet to be resolved. I am still dissatisfied with Washington Mutual’s treatment regarding this issue, and I am still confused to has how it got to this point. How can Washington Mutual claim to pride itself on customer service, and customer satisfaction when this situation clearly does not demonstrate those ideals. Even when, or if, this issue ever gets resolved I have to question my loyalty to a bank that so obviously does not respect me as a patron. People do not have to Bank. They are not entitled to our money, yet Banks seem have an attitude that customers are lowly creatures, especially customers like me who work hard all the time for the little savings we do have, and never seem to break even in our bills. Outrageous 33 dollar overdraft charges, and money that just seems to go missing sets a person in my income bracket back about a month. The money that was in the provisional credit, and the overdraft fee’s is the amount I need to pay next months rent and bills, due in less than a week. But Washington Mutual does not seem to care about small issues like this. I find it very sad and discouraging that right now I feel like stuffing my money under my mattress would be a better option than banking with Wamu ever again. At least my mattress wouldn’t make me cry, keep my on hold for 30 minutes, or steal my money in overdraft charges.

I apologize for being so snide, its just aggravating that the situation has gotten this far without any clear resolutions. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Sincerely,
Lila B

Sounds like you’re getting stuck in “I only get paid $5.85 an hour” hell. Here are some phone numbers for high-up people who can help you out better than what you’ve been dealing with so far. Call them up, calmly and succinctly explain what you want them to do, and they just might work some magic for you.

Some advice on writing complaint letters for fun and profit: they’re usually much more effective if you can find a high-ranking executive and mail the letter directly to them. Dear Kerry Killinger is going to be more effective than Dear Washington Mutual Management and To Whom It May Concern.

Lastly, I would be remiss to not take the opportunity to point out this story illustrates the hazards of debit card use. Lila would have been much better off with a credit card. That way when it got stolen, the bank would have been out the money instead of you.

Executive Response Team
Customer Relations Manager
Washington Mutual Bank
(800) 225-5497 Opt. 1 Ext. 467
Fax (206) 965-3082

CEO Kerry Killinger
kerry.killinger@wamu.net
His assistant, Wendy: wendy.cadman@wamu.net
206-500-8779

CFO Tom Casey
tom.casey@wamu.net
206-500-4201

Chief Legal Officer Stewart Landefeld
stewart.landefeld@wamu.net

President and COO Steve Rotella:
steve.rotella@wamu.net
206-500-8302

(Photo: babasteve)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. egosub2 says:

    Gotta love the ageism in the first graf.

  2. MonkeyMonk says:

    I haven’t used a debit card in ages but when I did they required a PIN number. Is that requirement gone?

  3. Farquar says:

    First rule of angry letters:

    Thou shall keep all angry letters under one page.

    Any complaint letters over 1 page get skimmed at best, and you are more likely to be labeled a fruitcake then you are to be taken seriously.

  4. mgy says:

    @MonkeyMonk: Most can be run just like a credit card.

  5. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    Whenever I read a majority of these letters, I see “call call call email email blind cc copy paste”… A lot of times, going into your branch and dealing with a manager face to face helps gets resolution.

  6. Pylon83 says:

    @Farquar:
    Seconded.

  7. Corydon says:

    @MonkeyMonk: You can use a debit card just like a credit card these days. Just sign on the dotted line and it’s paid for.

    Heck, lots of fast food restaurants and similar places where the transactions are generally small just swipe the card…no signature, no nothing.

  8. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    @mgy: If they have a VISA or MC logo.

    I’m guessing when she got picked, she might have had her pin written down somewhere in her wallet, and that could have gotten the account drained and explained the reversal.

    That’s if it’s just a standard WAMU bank debit card and not a visa check card.

    If it was a Visa Check Card, doesn’t Visa have their own fraud protection as well?

  9. themaskedmarauder says:

    Has she learned nothing from reading this blog? Never go ANYWHERE with a debit card from only one bank! Always have a backup.

    And most letter writers are over 60? That statement alone illustrates her level of maturity and intelligence.

  10. Shappie says:

    $5.85/hour? Isn’t the minumim wage $7.25 now?

  11. howie_in_az says:

    Don’t threaten to leave — play up the “I’ve been a customer for 90 million years” angle. Then after you get your money back, then you leave.

  12. Pro-Pain says:

    They don’t care how long you’ve been a customer because they DON’T CARE about their customers! OBVIOUSLY!!! People are so dumb.

  13. Farquar says:

    @howie_in_az: They have this lady on the hook for 20-30-40 thousand dollars. This is not like getting them to refund a $25 bank charge.

  14. katylostherart says:

    well at least she can always go to an american embassy and get her ass home if she needs.

  15. Caveat says:

    Let me begin by saying that I find the letter introduction offensive. Is the writer implying that people over 60 are more naive than people under 25, or more angry? Maybe they are more socially responsible. Age is irrelevant. However, based on my experience with many banks and much travel overseas, let me make the following points:
    1. I NEVER use debit cards, even in the USA. Many have been sent to me (including by WAMU) and I shred them immediately then ask for an ATM card which of course can ONLY be used with a pin number which I do not write down anywhere. Of course I also carry credit cards which are protected by USA federal law to a maximum loss of $50 if lost or stolen. I agree with other readers that Lila either had her pin number written down in her wallet or the thieves used it as a “credit” card, but which I think is best called a prepaid credit card.
    2. India is very crowded and has many poor people, so it is not unusual to have your wallet stolen. I can’t imagine why Lila did not have written down in a safe place every item in her wallet so that she could immediately notify the affected banks. It sounds as if Lila took considerable time to notify WAMU. Even in remote villages there are telephones, and often banks will accept collect calls from overseas in such cases.
    3. Anyone staying overseas for several months should have a relationship with a bank in the local country. What if a tsunami or a typhoon hits and the international communication lines are down?
    4. I think the original WAMU representative made a mistake by giving Lila credit because he did not realize that her account had been drained overseas. If this happens in the USA, there are federal banking laws that help banks cooperate and try to recover the stolen money. WAMU has no real claim against any Indian bank that it can enforce without years of litigation in India and they are not going to do that. Like any bank, they take the path of least resistance and least cost, basically by taking the money from Lila’s account. The door to Lila’s account has been opened in India, so if WAMU adds more money as credit, why would the thieves not drain that as well? Lila is paying for the amount drained in the first place, but any credit issued by WAMU thereafter would now be taking money from WAMU. The people over 60 would have probably used travel cheques and been protected.

  16. Farquar says:

    @Farquar: I’m an idiot. I’m not actually sure how much she’s out.

  17. Farquar says:

    @Caveat:

    The intro to letter, at least to me, appeared to be a misplaced attempt at introducing a bit of levity at the beginning of her letter.. A “Hey, I’m a funny gal, don’t you want to help me out” sort of intros.

    Epic Fail in that regard.. but not worth getting offended over.

  18. veline says:

    If I knew then what I know now (stories above) about WaMu, I would never, never open an account with them. I was charged for an illegal purchase by a car dealer and informed WaMu about this and would you believe that they granted the dealership a “chargeback” and now put me in a legal nightmare!!! and for that I close my account and cut up my debit card and master card – I don’t want nothing to do with WAMU!!!

    And now this has become my legal woes about my attorney. I paid him his fee on 3/9/08. According to him he is waiting on the server to get back to him. This was done in April. How long does it take for a server to serve papers – this is a business place … a car dealership. Shouldn’t the server get back in touch with the attorney if he cannot serve the papers and shouldn’t the attorney be able to contact the server if he the server does not report back to the attorney. This is over almost 6 weeks. I am beginning to think that the attorney has not filed the papers. Does anyone out there know anything about serving papers to a defendant and how long it takes. This is ridiculous!! Help.

  19. evslin says:

    @Caveat: Let me begin by saying that I find the letter introduction offensive. Is the writer implying that people over 60 are more naive than people under 25, or more angry? Maybe they are more socially responsible. Age is irrelevant.

    I think they’re trying to get at the notion that the thing to do now to voice a complaint is to call or e-mail, instead of something old-fashioned like actually writing a letter. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody other than an older person say they were going to write a letter to voice their dissatisfaction with a company. Not so much ageism, but yeah, it’s hardly worth pointing out.

  20. Trai_Dep says:

    Wow. With an opening paragraph that bad, I’m amazed Washington Mutual didn’t submit the letter to Consumerist saying, “Now do you understand?!”

  21. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    @Farquar: She cannot be out that much, She’s a student. She said she only deposited 450 in her account, so she’s not moving massive amounts of money. I’m guessing less than 5K, probably closer to 3.

    I don’t think she would be that unintelligent to be in a foreign land in a poor area with her life savings in her wallet.

    Again, face to face contact. If it’s that important, get face time.

  22. pgh9fan says:

    This has to be one of the worst letters ever written. I can’t even count all of the spelling and grammar errors. The tone is so woe-is-me and it’s your fault that I don’t make a lot of money. I know that if this came across my desk I’d be less than willing to help.

  23. Trai_Dep says:

    And, I’m sorry. But by the sixth month in, in an area like that, if you aren’t already pickpocket-savvy, you have no business traveling.

  24. bilge says:

    Killer opening on the letter. I’m sure that got it placed at the bottom of some pile.

  25. lrbronson says:

    Some points here:

    1) I did actually edit the letter before I sent it to Washington Mutual. This I just published on my blog in a hurry, and one of my friends e-mailed it into Ben. I forgot to send him the revised version.

    2) Anyone can get pickpocketed in any country, yes especially lower income countries like India, but also Europe and even in the United States. Its unfortunate, but it does happen.

    3) I lost over a 1000 dollars, but what I’m really upset about is that this happened a month ago and washington mutual has refused to help me figure out why the provisional credit was reversed. I have been calling Washington Mutual everyday for the past 2 weeks, and getting nothing but promises of returned phone calls that never happened. They claim that your account is protected with fraud prevention, 24/7, and in all countries. I just want them to live up to that claim.

    4) In India you can’t use credit cards like you can in the USA. I needed a debit card for the ATM to get rupee’s India is a cash country. In the USA I never use a credit card.

    5) I’ve been in to see my branch manager, they say that I have to deal with the claims department directly.

  26. B says:

    @evslin: Except it was an email, not an actual typed letter.

  27. lrbronson says:

    I want to apologize for the agism. I was just flustered.

  28. statnut says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: She’s gonna be out of an apartment if she cant pay her rent…

  29. kepler11 says:

    good lord, the letter goes on forever. Does she think that the person reading her letter will want to spend even 0.01% of the time that she spent writing it, regardless of how amusing she tries to make it (but failing anyway)?

    summarize the letter into three points, or everyone loses patience.

  30. tedyc03 says:

    I helped Lila out by submitting the letter to Consumerist and sending her in the right direction. A few points worth noting:

    1. No one deserves to have a bank treat them like crap when they get stolen from. Nobody. It doesn’t matter how, where, when, or the circumstances – it’s not alright for a bank to re-victimize someone.
    2. Lila is NOT your average Consumerist reader – she hadn’t heard of the blog until I pointed her here, and after some advice she’s contacted the Executive Customer Relations team who has promised to help her (I’m waiting to hear how that went).
    3. Blaming the victim here gets old, not because she did everything right but because this is a blog about customer service, and it’s clear that it wasn’t provided in this case. Good customer service can be provided even if the answer is “there’s nothing we can do.” Good customer service doesn’t have to be capitulating to the demands of the customer, but it should include explaining, helping, and sympathizing with the victim, and then doing what they can and explaining what and why they can’t.

    Those here so apt to blame the victim, think back to when you were 23 and in college. Would YOU have handled this right? Probably not. Because if we all knew how to handle writing complaints, dealing with crazy CSRs, and fixing bonehead problems, Consumerist.com wouldn’t be necessary anymore.

  31. theninjasquad says:

    Unless they had her PIN number somehow, I still don’t know how they could drain her debit card like they did. Plus isn’t there a daily limit that would have kicked in to stop them from draining it all?

  32. krom says:

    It’s about time that WaMu got it’s just desserts for its bullshit customer service and anti-customer policies. Gives us a nice break from the petty BoA-bashing that everyone around here seems to love.

    When I was first in a new state and unemployed, I got a WaMu checking/savings. Because my two previous banks allowed charges on the accounts in excess of balance, they went negative, and I had no job to pay the $5/day penalties, which piled up. After having a WaMu account already, WaMu warned me they were going to dump my checking because of them. I found out how to cash out my trust fund, and asked a WaMu phone rep how I could prevent the account from being dumped, and was told if I paid off those negative accounts, I’d be OK. I did that with my trust fund money, but no change. A rep in a physical branch told me that there was no way I was going to be able to save the account, and that what I’d been told by the phone rep was false.

    I got by with my savings after that, depositing my paycheck into it and using ATM withdrawals and money orders to get by. (Each time I asked for a money order, the teller would try to sell me the add-on Plus Service, which I wasn’t eligible for, since I didn’t have a checking account.)

    Then, months later, on the first of December, less than a month before Christmas, WaMu pulled my savings. Nothing I could do could prevent it. They actually told me that they were supposed to have pulled the savings account back when they pulled the associated checking account, but simply *forgot*. And they conveniently decided to *remember* a few weeks before Christmas.

    Months later I took advantage of BoA’s one-year-forgiveness policy, after one year had passed since I’d paid off my (outrageous) overdraft penalties on my Sovereign and BankOne accounts. They gave me accounts with no problem, and I’ve been a happy customer since.

    Meanwhile, WaMu continues to give people incorrect and contradicting information and generally screw them over, but BoA seemingly gets all the heat.

  33. bleh says:

    WaMu and BofA: Banking has never been better!

  34. evslin says:

    @B: Interesting. I saw “letter” all over the place in the post. Oh well :P

  35. Farquar says:

    @B:

    The first rule of angry letter writing still applies to emails.. even more so probably.

    Think about it.. did you really read @krom’s post? At a given line limit you decide that nothing found therein can make reading the entire thing worthwhile. Same occurs with complaint letters, except instead of just not reading it, they also make the subconscious (or entirely conscious) determination that the writer owns 173 cats.

  36. jimv2000 says:

    Seems like she could sue them for breach of contract and damages.

    Aren’t the fraud policies technically contracts between her and the bank? So if they violated those policies, they would be liable, right?

  37. Jeepman says:

    @egosub2 Yeah, you know how those damn people over 60 are. . . .don’t understand technology (previous poster on another thread,) complain all the time. We ought to get rid of all of them . . . well, all except one anyway. :-) Pat

  38. @tedyc03: Preach!
    Consumerist is supposed to help people, not bash them!

  39. ClevelandCub says:

    I can’t believe that anyone here is blaming the victim. Accidents happen to even the most prepared among us, so don’t ever say it can’t or won’t happen to you – that’s just tempting fate.

    As far as going into see someone face to face, that’s probably a little difficult in the mountains of northern India when the issue is most pressing.

    Regarding the daily limits on non-pin based “check card” purchases – that varies wildly from bank to bank – and from account holder to account holder at some banks, depending on your account type, risk (from a loss to the bank perspective), among other things. I have a friend with a credit union check card that is limited to $200/daily, however with my bank check card it is significantly higher, so it would not be impossible to drain an account in less than an hour under the right circumstances (low balance, high daily limit).

    Also with my bank I am covered by Visa’s zero liability policy on check card purchases (that applies to any non-pin based transaction processed by Visa’s network). It was my understanding that this was universally true of any card that carried the Visa logo, as long as it was a non-pin based (credit, yes it’s still processed as credit) transaction, but perhaps not. Debit transactions are not processed over the Visa network they are processed over one of the ATM transaction networks and therefore don’t qualify.

  40. kbarrett says:

    I deleted my debit card from my credit union account, and replaced it with a simple ATM card.

    This kind of crap is exactly why I downgraded the sucker.

    I use the credit union account to pay off balances on my credit card … and use the card for only stuff like internet purchases … and carry cash for everything else.

    If my credit union balance gets low because of an emergency, I transfer money from my credit union letter of credit to cover temporarily.

    Basically … no one has access to my credit union funds … I decide where they go. The closest to them anyone gets is to one of my credit cards … and those charges are easy to dispute.

  41. jennieblue22 says:

    @Caveat: Not all areas are very crowded, and the poor are often restricted to a few areas. It is actually pretty UNcommon to have your wallet pickpocketed there. Also, India’s government has laws that forces it to comply with foreign (for example, US) laws if necessary, such as this case. I blame WaMu for this one – they should have known this.

  42. meehawl says:

    Most people over 25 will get halfway through the first para and then file the letter as “obnoxious” straight into the wastebin.

  43. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    @tedyc03: I notice that Lila didn’t go in and talk face-to-face with someone. You didn’t elevate properly.

  44. Qu33nZR3p1n9 says:

    This is the Div Exec Number try calling those number and ask for John in your professional voice

    John E. Benevento
    Div Exec
    Senior Vice President
    516-484-5540
    john.benevento@wamu.net

    Ken Kido
    Retail Banking Store Dist
    Executive Vice President
    ken.kido@wamu.net
    206-500-4111

  45. Ben Popken says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: She’s a friend of one of our readers, not a regular reader herself, so go easy.

  46. FilthyHarry says:

    Aside from paying your sherpa for a little head, what do you need money in the Himalayas for? Ok, maybe for something from one of the starbucks there.

  47. mannyv says:

    Blaming the victim is fun, but one thing this shows is that the world (and dealing with bureaucracies) is very different when you’re 25.

    When you write a complaint letter, you need to give the reader enough ammunition so they can go do their job on your behalf. That means throwing most of the irrelevant (though important to you) detail. The good thing about this letter is it shows that WaMu violated its own policy – that’ll go a big way towards convincing someone in WaMu that something went wrong.

    However, a quick summary would have been better:

    * traveling in India, someone stole my wallet
    * was remote and unable to get to phone
    * account emptied
    * actions by WaMu
    * actions by holder
    * what I’d like WaMu to do

    You don’t generally need a sob story, because the point is obvious: you want your money back. You’re not writing because you want to change their policy or get someone fired (yet).

    Basically, look at it from the point of view of the person on the other end. They need to know what happened, where the situation fits inside their policy guidelines/rules, and from that they can figure out what they can and can’t do.

    Lastly, as everyone should know, don’t bother asking for a supervisor. That was an old Ma Bell trick, and it doesn’t work anymore. Ask instead how you escalate your issue. That’s the new, 2000s way to move up the food chain.

    If you need to get angry, do so in a tight, controlled way. And remember you’re angry at the process that isn’t working, not at the poor schmuck that’s getting paid $7-12/hr. Even if they are useless, getting angry at them won’t do any good (except for making you feel better, if you’re like that).

    Executive customer service is probably better because they tend to walk you through the process and extract information about the situation instead of you trying to figure out what they need to know. Plus they’re paid to be nicer and patient.

    Good luck!

  48. LosersHaveCreditCardDebt says:

    Washington Mutual has terrible upper management. How the CEO keeps his job is beyond my understanding.

  49. bachbugger says:

    This is an all too common story and yet another reason to reconsider the power that we have as consumers. Any good book on the fundamentals of personal finance should be able to explain the origins of financial intermediaries such as banks and the services they provide and offer. Take a good look, you will find NO advantage to banking with a large organization like WaMu, KeyBank, B of A, etc., nor will you find any functions or services that are exclusive to these instutions and not “banking in general.” The truth is that banking with smaller financial institutions like local banks and credit unions has always been and always WILL be the superior decision when it comes to taking more control over our personal finances.

    Large institutions offer NO superior financial incentives (interest rates, banking fees, etc.). Large banks offer LESS flexibility and LESS concern for personal interest and MORE focus on impersonal, rigid, and sometimes illogical “numbers-style” policies/procedures that allow little room for a human touch. Finally, large financial intermediaries such as these can ONLY make the claim of being advantageous by admitting that they provide what it was they were intended to provide all along: The distribution of risk. In short, the only thing a large banking institution can offer me (as someone who has decided to bank my money rather than being responsible for it myself) is the idea that any investments or loans made with my money (but not BY me…the investments and loans are made BY the bank in order to generate profits for the bank) are safer because there are many other investors who have put THEIR money at risk who are willing to absorb the losses when they occur. “Other investors” might very well include YOU…the person reading this right now! The simple truth is this: The advantages of banking with a large bank are minimal and are based on the reduction of POTENTIAL risks and not on any ACTUAL advantages. Got that?? In other words, the only pluses are not the “cash in hand” kind, but the “this isn’t happening right now, but now it’s REALLY not happening!!” kind. That’s it. Nothing more.

    If you’re like me, you’ve decided to invest a large portion of your time (your actual life as measured in hours) into making money. We call it “wage” or “salary” but we’re really just trading our precious hours for dollars.

    As a result, I am very careful about where and with whom I invest my money. My financial decisions affect not only me but my family, my friends, and the place where I live. Before making a decision (ESPECIALLY with banking….ESPECIALLY because of the way banking has become!) with my money, I ask this simple question: “Remembering for a moment the hours of my life spent earning this money, the values I want to uphold, the things I think are important in my life, and the faces of the family who depends on me to earn this paycheck, do I now trust this person/organization to be a good and trustworthy steward of my money, my values, and my family’s well-being?”. If the answer is anything less than a certain “YES”, then I seriously reconsider my decision.

    Each one of us has the power to make the change right now by taking our money OUT of large banks and putting it into smaller local institutions. Smaller banks are where our money belongs. The financial incentives are as good if not better than what the big banks offer. There is the opportunity to make a difference in your community by keeping your money in the hands of people who value the same things you do, treat the same issues as being important, and have the same community goals in mind. There are many more advantages to banking locally, not the least of which is the reduction of stories like this one. Remember that thinking globally but spending locally is how things really get done. Please start TODAY by simply opening an account at a local institution and seeing how it goes. I almost guarantee that you will find what I have found and will eventually switch over. Tell one friend and maybe get a few more to do the same as you. Build a stronger community and help other get empowered!! Take your money out of the hands of people who can’t be trusted with it and put it in the hands of those who CAN!. I am available for advice or comment if it can be of any help to you.