Bank Of America Sides With Fraudster, Holds Money Hostage

Some criminal has joined with Bank of America to make John’s life hell. Multiple fraud investigations have froze what little of John’s money remains after overdraft fees have sucked it dry before BofA decided there were no errors or fraud on his account. Fed up, John has closed his account but wants his money back.

His story:

I opened an account with Bank of America just over a year ago (I knew I shouldn’t, but they have a lot of branches and ATMs around here so it was really convenient). Back in February (2010), I logged into my account to find a $100 charge from a company I had never heard of. Luckily I had just been paid, so there were no overdrafts, just missing money. Within a week the fraud investigation was closed and my money returned along with a new debit card.

Fast forward to July. There is a charge for $44.83, plus a $1.43 international fee. Great. I went to the closest branch to sort out the issue this time- I only had $50 in the account, and I ended up with $175 in overdrafts as a bill and a few pending charges rolled in. A new case is opened, and the money was refunded immediately while they investigated. A couple weeks later, I received a letter from BoA with some questions (did I have my card at the time of the incident, does anyone have access to my email etc etc), which I filled out and sent back. There was then silence until the middle of August when, out of no where, I received three fee reversals- one for $175, $44.83 and $1.43, which drained my account to less than a dollar and, you guessed it, another bill overdrafted my account. At this point, Bank of America was holding $256 of my money hostage (which, sad to say, is one week’s pay to me).

I called them up and was told that “repeated attempts to contact me were unsuccessful and the case was closed” (apparently they had some more questions). I checked the dates on my phone for when they claim I was called and found no BoA calls, nor remember receiving one at the time. But it’s okay, because a new case can be opened and I can answer the rest of the questions over the phone (and I only have to wait 10 more business days for a decision!). This time, they kept the money while the second investigation took place.

Well, 10 business days later, which happened to be October 19th (three months after this all started), I got another letter stating that “no posting error has occurred on your account.”

At this point I withdrew what remained in my account and closed it. Where do I go from here? (Oh, I’ve also received 3 letters from them since closing my account informing me that I am overdrawn and need to deposit funds immediately). Please help!

What would you do if someone stole your money and your bank didn’t believe you?

Comments

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  1. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    have froze?

  2. obits3 says:

    I would have changed my account after the first problem (even if I got my money back). I know it sounds extreme, but that it how I feel about security breaches.

    • DancesWithBadgers says:

      Might be premature as the breach might not have been on their end and they refunded the charge.

      Now never make me defend BofA again.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        But it doesn’t exactly matter how the breach occurred – the thief already has the account information, and it’s no longer secure.

      • Verdant Pine Trees says:

        Exactly. I had a breach on my account with Washington Mutual… that didn’t mean they were a bad bank.

        Oh, wait…

    • The Dord says:

      Is that you, Captain Hindsight?

      You’re going to save us! Yaaay!

      • obits3 says:

        Everybody’s got a little captain in them =P

      • mythago says:

        I ran out of pluses for this comment.

      • OutPastPluto says:

        All of the rest of us can quite easily benefit from the Captain’s sage advice here and ourselves avoid this same sort of situation. Isn’t that why we’re all here to begin with?

        Be more paranoid.
        Be more assertive.
        Be more unreasonable.

  3. KlausKinsky says:

    How about filing a police report? If someone is making unauthorized charges to your account, the withdrawals themselves may be legit, but the fact that they are being made at all is the crime. Perhaps then BoA might “take it more seriously?”

    • Griking says:

      There seems to be a whole lot of missing information in this story. Who did BoA determine to be the creditors in their investigation? Did they claim that the OP used their services or purchased something from them? Was there a signature? Aren’t they supposed to provide details of the questioned transaction in an investigation?

  4. LadyTL says:

    I would open another bank account at a different bank soon though before BoA makes it so you can’t, if he hasn’t already.

  5. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    File a BBB compalint and FCC and AG and whatever else you can think of. They will get pressure from these agencies to fix it.

  6. Alvis says:

    Go to a branch.

    • Mom says:

      And do what, pray tell?

      • Alvis says:

        Iunoh; demand satisfaction? Maybe throw a golve down?

      • pot_roast says:

        Do a lot more than this guy did, probably. The article states that the OP did go into a branch – once, but follow up didn’t seem to happen. And this same person ended up with fraudulent transactions on two separate occasions within six months? That sounds fishy.

        I think the OP needs to go back into the branch with copies of all of the paperwork and sit down with a branch manager. Closing the account when it’s overdrawn will wind up getting them thrown into ChexSystems and collections too. Not a good plan at all.

        Oh, and for pete’s sake, clean whatever virus they have off of the computer.

  7. oldwiz65 says:

    When did BofA ever give a rats tushie about customers? I would go to the state banking commission – BofA is not going to help you, period.

    • notfromaroundhere says:

      State banking commissions only regulate state chartered banks. BofA is federally chartered, and any state banking commission will have absolutely no authority over them.

  8. zigziggityzoo says:

    Sue.

  9. eddieck says:

    EECB. OCC. FTC. AG of your state.

    • andyg8180 says:

      completly agree..worked for me… and the minute they get notice from the banking commission, most banks move you to the front of the line

  10. RxDude says:

    Fraudster: is that a new social networking site?

  11. quads says:

    fact is, he should check what sites he’s punching that debit card info into. Chances are he’s visiting a site or ordering something on a site thats been compromised. Personally, I only use my amex for purchases over the net, and only my debit card at places I feel are more secure.

  12. c!tizen says:

    “Some criminal has joined with Bank of America”

    where have you been?

    • econobiker says:

      A+1.

      Thank you for the dual ironic and sarcastic comment rolled up into a nice little ball of truth…

  13. failurate says:

    Why is over drafting allowed on your account? Don’t you read the Consumerist?

    And those letters they sent you, asking for more money for overdrafts, those are the real deal and if you ignore them, they will haunt you till the end of time.

    • outoftheblew says:

      I know what the rules say, but none of my banks (two online and one local) contacted me asking me to opt in (I wouldn’t have). I actually have no idea if I have overdraft protection or not. It’s just not been a high enough priority for me to look into it.

    • Mom says:

      Have you been reading Consumerist? Auto bill pay will still cause overdrafts, even if he has opted out of overdraft protection on his debit card. TFA says that a bill caused the overdraft, not debit card usage.

  14. indeeme says:

    He says he received notice of “fee reversals” in August, that equal exactly what he was charged in July, including the overdraft. They reversed the charges. It sounds like they gave him his money back, and the guy’s just confused.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      I think he misspoke- I am going to assume he means they reversed their previous decisions to credit his account. He should of said “Credit reversals”.

  15. galm666 says:

    Is it just me, or is Bank of America quite possibly the worst bank ever?

  16. Murbob says:

    He said it himself “I knew I shouldn’t (open a bank of america account)”

    Its his own fault for dealing with them. When you hear horror stories about a company, YOU SHOULD NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THEM. Failing to follow that advice will get you what you deserve.

    Reading behind the lines,
    If the guy isn’t wise enough to stay away from BOA, who thinks he’s wise enough to keep himself safe on the internet?

  17. The Marionette says:

    What he should do first it find a way to keep people from getting his info to pull off the fraud in the first place.

    • Firethorn says:

      Along with online transactions, another possiblity was that a location he was swiping his card frequently had a skimmer on it.

  18. DovS says:

    It sounds like this is less about BoA not believing John than it is about someone at BoA not wanting to actually do the work. They don’t make the calls to John but they still check the box and then they can forget about it and take an earlier lunch.

    I would suggest trying to escalate the issue to someone higher up who might actually care about getting it right.

    If that doesn’t work, you might want to look at small claims court to get your money back. Make sure you have clear records of all your transactions and communication with BoA. Get printed records of incoming and missed calls for the time period they claimed to have tried calling you but really didn’t. With those, it should not be hard to prove to a judge that BoA failed to honor its legal agreements and obligations regarding fraud protection.

  19. sopmodm14 says:

    if BOA is siding with the fraudsters, they’re committing fraud also, or at the very least, are accessories to committing fraud

    at my college, they always have a booth nearby for give-aways and such

  20. Verdant Pine Trees says:

    I would agree with eddieck – get writing some letters and cc them to the attorney (registered agent) for Bank of America, sent certified mail with return receipt. See if that doesn’t galvanize them to act.

  21. ovalseven says:

    I thought the bank had the burden of proof. Isn’t it up to them to prove you withdrew that money? What proof did BoA offer?

    US Code:

    (b) Burden of proof
    In any action by a card issuer to enforce liability for the use of a credit card, the burden of proof is upon the card issuer to show that the use was authorized or, if the use was unauthorized, then the burden of proof is upon the card issuer to show that the conditions of liability for the unauthorized use of a credit card, as set forth in subsection (a) of this section, have been met.

    http://con.st/5389566

  22. coren says:

    FTC, comptroller, the AG, file a police report, file with the BBB, small claims.

  23. JollyJumjuck says:

    If the bank can’t keep your money safe, you might as well hide it in the mattress.

  24. Red Cat Linux says:

    I can see getting fraudulent charges on an account. Happens to the best of us. But this guy got hit in February, then again in July AFTER he got a new debit replacement number/card. If these are truly fraudulent charges, it’s time to re-think how you are using your bank card/account. Seriously.

    Next, is the OP 100% sure that the charges are not legit? Wouldn’t be the first time that a legit purchase shows up under an un-familliar name in bank transactions.

    Finally, in (I know, I know) BofA’s defense, this is a normal practice in every bank I’ve belonged to. You are given a courtesy reimbursement, which can and will be reversed if the vendor can successfully contest it. Your mileage may vary, action features sold separately, batteries not included and so on. Call and talk to someone to find out why the reimbursements were reversed. Or plunk yourself down in a branch.

    Although, it IS BofA… I’d only bother to make sure they gave me back my money long enough for me to draw a check on it and find another bank.

  25. AllanG54 says:

    I don’t know…my wife’s son had a $12 charge from his debit account. They called and immediately stopped the charge and gave back the money. Then sent him a new card with a different number. I guess sometimes they’re on the ball and sometimes not. I have numerous accounts with them and have never had a problem.

  26. Web The Planet says:

    This is all I can say about it John. If you closed that account at Bank of America and they say you owe them money and don’t pay then they report you to some banking association firm that all banks use in this country and with that black mark on your record it will be impossible to open a new account at any bank. One of my friends did this exact same thing and got screwed by BOA with this result.
    Since you closed your account I believe you have about 14 days to pay up or they will screw you up. Hope you got a new bank account somewhere else quick or else you will have to wait 5 years to get a new bank account. You will have to be happy with your new bank cause you probably won’t be able to open a new bank account for awhile anywhere else.
    FYI