Someone Claiming To Be Bank Of America Staffer Threatens Man For Telling People To Switch To A Credit Union

In advance of the upcoming Bank Transfer Day Consumerist reader Jeff and a friend decided to stand outside a San Diego branch of Bank of America to remind customers that they should consider a credit union. This didn’t go over well with a man claiming to be a BofA employee, who threatened to have Jeff’s credit union account cancelled if the protest continued.

And he made the threat in front of a reporter for the San Diego Reader.

“I’m just encouraging folks to close their account with BofA and move their money to a nonprofit credit union,” Jeff told the Reader about his protest. “San Diego is full of great credit unions.”

But when the alleged bank staffer approached Jeff and asked him which credit union, he’d recommend, Jeff gave him the name of one for which he’d been handing out pamphlets to anyone who asked. Jeff also admits to the Reader that he would receive a $25 referral fee if anyone opened and kept their account at that specific credit union — though he says it is not the reason behind the protest.

To the bank man, who identified himself as corporate security for the bank but would not show ID to Jeff or the reporter, this meant that Jeff was “running a business” on a public sidewalk.

He then made the threat that, “with one phone call,” he could have Jeff’s account at the credit union canceled.

“I held my ground but his threats still had me spooked,” says Jeff. “So I called my Credit Union to ask if he really could close my account. They laughed out loud and basically said, ‘full steam ahead!'”

Alleged Bank of America Official Threatens Protester [San Diego Reader]

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  1. Grungo says:

    This just in: goon intimidates moron.

    Film at eleven.

  2. Iroc says:

    Bank of America phhhht!
    more like
    Bank of Communist Russia.

    at Bank of America you don’t close account, account closes you.

    • JeremieNX says:

      In Soviet Russia, Bank Forks You

    • Murbobby says:

      If you’re not familiar with Russia, they have more liberties than we do these days. Fewer bullshit laws, fewer regulations, and you don’t find people trying to scam the government for money like you do here in the USA.

  3. aloria says:

    “Jeff also admits to the Reader that he would receive a $25 referral fee if anyone opened and kept their account at that specific credit union — though he says it is not the reason behind the protest.”

    Sure.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Yeah, sounds like a crock to me as well.

      If you really want to support the move then arrange to have anyone that switches recieve the $25.

      • VotaIdiota says:

        That could very well be the case.

        I’ve referred a couple friends to my credit union back in the day. They got a $25 bonus to start their account with, and I got $25 too. Everyone wins!

        • failurate says:

          I think what he was talking about was giving your friend who signed up your $25 also.

          • Squee says:

            I think that is exactly what he said happened too!

            • Misha says:

              No.

              One of them said that the person receiving the sign-up bonus should give their sign-up bonus to the new customer in ADDITION to any bonus the new customer receives from the financial institution.

              The other said only that their financial institution gives bonuses to both, and said nothing about voluntarily passing their bonus along to the person they had referred.

    • Lethe says:

      Not necessarily. I’m always recommending people switch to ING. It just so happens that if someone signs up from a link I send them, I get a small referral bonus. If they took that away, I’d still recommend them. The bank is awesome, plain and simple.

      • aloria says:

        If it was just about getting people to switch away from big banks to credit unions, he could have provided information on a variety of the various credit unions that he claims San Diego is full of, and let people make their own choices based on their individual requirements and preferences. He provided pamphlets only on the one CU that would get him a kickback. While I’m sure he thinks they’re the best option around, doing this reeks of ulterior motives and ultimately hurts his cause.

        • JennQPublic says:

          I’m sure there are several fine CUs around here, but I can only recommend to you the one I do business with. I don’t think that’s at all strange. I would recommend you shift to a CU in general, but I will also tell you I’ve been very happy with mine.

      • caj111 says:

        Yes, but would you stand out on a sidewalk and do it all day?

    • Coffee says:

      Here…instead of smoking, maybe you should buy some of this Chewlies Gum…

    • The_IT_Crone says:

      “O., who is unemployed,”

      I really can’t fault someone for finding a way to make a meager living while furthering a cause he believes in. I see it more as a win/win. I can’t imagine he’s getting more than a few people to sign up- he’s probably making less than he would from begging.

      • bwcbwc says:

        I don’t blame him either, but there certainly isn’t full disclosure on his part when he passes his pamphlets to the bank customers.

    • Costner says:

      Down with corporate America man! Banks are evil!

      *five minutes later*

      Hey… can you cash this check I got by shilling for my local Credit Union?

    • suburbancowboy says:

      I made the switch to a Credit Union on Friday. I have been encouraging everyone to do the same, and to use me as a referral if they switch to the same CU as me. However, since I am not doing this to make money, I am taking all of the referral money, and donating it to a cancer charity.

  4. Chasing Headless Chickens says:

    I already made an appointment on Monday to meet with the local credit union to switch my accounts from Chase after I found out Chase has been charging me $5 a month for “monthly maintenance fee” on my savings account for the last three months. $5 per month…but interest of only .01%. WTF!?

    • Sanspants says:

      I’m leaving Citizens for this exact reason. I’ve never had any issues with them before, but it’s either pay for overdraft protection (which I don’t need since I haven’t overdrafted in many years) or pay $5 a month for maintenance.

      • perruptor says:

        Citizens does that? Damn. I just opened an account with them so I can cash Savings Bonds. The credit union apparently isn’t allowed to do that. I’ll have to look into that maintenance fee.

      • Yorick says:

        From my Citizens statement, “You can waive the monthly maintenance fee of $4.99 by maintaining an average daily balance in your account of $1,500 or making 5 qualifying transactions. “

        Qualifying transactions include any use of your debit card, as far as I know (I use my debit for 90% of my transactions)

    • Thyme for an edit button says:

      A credit union wiped out my account through $5 maintenance fees. Just discovered this over the weekend when I looked at the account because I was going to start using it. There had just been about $20 in there that had rolled over into the savings account when I slightly overpaid my car loan a few months ago (my primary use of the credit union at that point). I just didn’t pay attention to it. It turns out that unless you had a loan or credit card, they charged a “maintenance fee” of $5 per month for balances under $500.

      So I closed that account and went with another institution. Credit unions pull this stuff too.

      • whogots is "not computer knowledgeable" says:

        Agreed. One of my CU accounts pushes online billpay when you log in. They charge something like $6 per month for online billpay. I guess that’s in the account disclosures somewhere, because there’s *zero* warning when you click on the pretty picture and set up a payment.

        Plus, you can suppress the billpay ads, but they reset the suppress button every month or two.

        Hate those guys. I only keep them so I can have an account under the same roof as my mom, who’s fixed-income.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          i’m happy i get free online billpay, but since i pay ten online bills though my CU and two of them charge $4.95 a payment for using their system, i’d still come out ahead. the only thing cheaper would be checks and i haven’t ordered new checks in 7 years so that’d be an annoyance too.

      • tbax929 says:

        I have been saying this on Consumerist (and everywhere else) for years. Don’t just assume a credit union is better. You have to find a good credit union. Some of them are just as bad, if not worse, than big banks.

        I tried three different ones before I found the one I’m currently using, in addition to my USAA account.

        • Chasing Headless Chickens says:

          I hear you. This one sounds pretty good though. First California Credit Union. No minimum balance requirement, not check fees, free online bill pay, free debit card, and they have an ATM in the building I work in (my Chase debit card won’t work in the machine, even if I’m willing to pay the ATM fee; Chase branches and ATMs are hard to find in this city, too).

      • coren says:

        You overpaid on a car loan and they charged you for not having a loan?

        Um.

      • vdragonmpc says:

        This +1 my wife’s ex credit union ate her balance and I told her to drop them (vacreditunion) and go to mine. Dupont fibers federal credit union. Guess what? They started an expansion and built a new branch. Then began adding fees and charges. Ate her textbook account alive. (semester to semester account we used at the bookstore seperate from the family account.

        Funny I had plenty of cash in the main account and CDs at the bank for 20 years. Not anymore. They set a mandatory min and the bloodletting began. Because we had money in so many accounts we didnt think it was an issue but it was. They cleaned that puppy out in a few months. So I moved our accounts to USAA and I am done with them except for the student loan account I have set up to pay my fed loans.

        Not all CUs are equal.

  5. sirwired says:

    While the BofA guy is full of $hit, this guy isn’t a protestor at all; he’s a marketer getting paid to produce sales referrals.

    • frank64 says:

      It is good though that he believes in what he is selling.

      • caj111 says:

        Because he gets paid $25 for each referral. Damn! That credit union must be thriving if they can afford to pay that much for each new account. How can I get his job?

  6. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    “I will have your credit union account canceled” ranks right up there with:
    I will have you arrested
    I will have you fired
    I will sue you

    Appropriate answer: Do your worst.

  7. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Cancel his CU account?

    I’ll believe it when I see it. I love how people threaten to do things that are completely not within their power to do.

    • dolemite says:

      “Where do you work? One call to your boss and you’re fired!” “My name is Jack Hoff, I work at Camel Towing”

      • Iroc says:

        Better yet
        I’m Brian Moynihan I’m the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bank of America Corp.
        Please, Fire me.

    • Difdi says:

      Making an empty threat to do so is a felony. It’s called coercion or extortion, depending on the state.

      Actually trying to do so after making the threat is a second felony, bank fraud.

      In quite a few states, you can make a citizen’s arrest for ANY felony, whether it involved violence or not. That’s a story I’d love to read about!

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Well, some places have a policy about you not spamming to get a bonus. It’s why if I send out spam links with my referrer ID on them, someone like Amazon could suspend my account.

  8. denros says:

    In b4 the first “this completely discredits the whole 99% movement” comment.

  9. Aking0667 says:

    It’d be nice if these smaller banks/CUs that want customers would offer short term loan with no interest/fee/retarded charge for no reason other than to line a pocket for customers that have to switch their autopays over to the new bank. The loan would apply to the bills that are due and the customer would pay the loan back ASAP once they get the other bank account closed.

    • david.c says:

      It would be nice if when I walked into a grocery store, the first basket of food was free … wait, isn’t all the food free?

      Same with banking services … it’s not free just cause you can’t take it home and put it in your fridge. It’s mostly what is referred to as “soft dollars” … but it’s still dollars none-the-less …

      At least with non-profits, the only thing you can squawk about is efficiency and the salaries of the higher ups … the latter of which tends to be vastly more reasonable then big banks.

      • Aking0667 says:

        Looks like you missed the point I was making. Point is, making it easier for other smaller institutions to earn a customers business by offering the incentive of making their transfer of autopays fairly painless.

        For redundancy I’ll repeat the idea.

        Bank Z wanting customers offers customer X at bank Y a small loan that is interest/fee free to cover their autopays while switching. Customer X switches to bank Z transfers their funds and uses the money that would be trapped in autopays at bank Y to pay off the loan at bank Z.

        There’s no freebies there the customer switched to bank Z because bank Z offered an incentive to do so.

    • Tim says:

      Some do.

      The thing is, there’s a reason why payday lenders are in crappy buildings, in poor neighborhoods, with horrible advertising and bad employees AND they charge crazy interest: quick loans with small principles and short terms are expensive for the lender. The default rate is high, and even if there’s a safety net there for the lender to recover the funds, it’s not cheap for them to do so. And they’re risky, among other things that increase costs.

      What you’re talking about would actually mean that the bank/CU would lose money on the loans, and that people taking out longer term, less risky would be subsidizing it.

  10. oldwiz65 says:

    I’m only surprised the BofA security goon didn’t drag the guy inside and beat him with rubber hoses.

  11. Difdi says:

    Cancel an account at an unrelated bank/credit union? Wow. If it’s an empty threat, it’s a very stupid one. Because threatening to commit a felony against someone if they don’t stop doing something completely legal is coercion, which is also a felony.

    Of course, actually TRYING to close someone else’s account at a different company is bank fraud, and will result in prison time.

  12. Buckus says:

    As long as he was standing on public property (e.g the sidewalk) the Bank guy can’t do anything. At least legally. If he steps onto the bank’s lot, then he can have the guy arrested for trespassing, but that’s a misdemeanor at best, compared to the grand theft robbery that Bank of America pulled on everybody.

    • NatalieErin says:

      In most municipalities Jeff would have had to be on the bank’s property, refuse to leave when asked, have a civil trespass order filed against him, and then re-enter the bank’s property to actually be arrested.

      • Difdi says:

        Or so the theory goes. There’s quite a few cops who will respond to any such demand from a business by making an arrest, whether it’s a false arrest or not.

    • Difdi says:

      Yeah, committing a felony against someone by threatening to commit a second felony is so smart.

  13. consumeristjohnny says:

    Credit Unions are not the be all end all. Many have “inactivity fees” or other such things if you aren’t using your account enough. I had this happen when I put money in an account for my mother as just in case money (she occasionally needed extra to pay rent when she was unemployed). I left the money in the account in case she ever needed it again. I figured it was a stash of money that I could access or she could access whenever we were in a bind. To my surprise I get a statement months later charging me $5 per month for an inactivity fee. The statement covered three months. I immediately withdrew the rest of my money and mailed the credit union to close my account. Alas, they did not close it, and tried to charge another fee. Since there was no money in the account it was deemed NSF and they tried to hit me for another $36.
    Needless to say, I told them they would immediately remove that and close the account like I asked/ After several phone calls it was finally wiped away.
    I had been with another credit union that ended up being put into receivership due to some outstanding VERY high risk loans. My current credit union (which was actually the first one I ever had when i was 12) now gets my business. The nearest branch was 30 minutes away until this last spring, but for the number of times I use a branch I could live with that.
    So just because it has a credit union name on it, does not make it better than the big banks.

  14. smo0 says:

    I called my credit union (an awesome credit union btw) and told them of the “deadline.”

    They’ve been advertising already as an alternative to big banks with their free checking and savings.

    I spoke with one of the supervisors who said she’d bring it up to their marketing department to perhaps give the date and perhaps some incentive.. or maybe just make the date the incentive.

    I felt good after doing that.

    I’ve read most of the comment on this article, people are griping about their credit unions and other banking institutions. The thing about credit unions is that they are all individual banking institutions. What my credit union does may not be what yours does, so don’t trash them as a whole – I don’t advocate them as a whole either.
    Just don’t be lazy, do your fucking research – its YOUR money.
    There are going to be non-profit or cheaper alternatives if you’re unhappy with what you have now.
    And if you’re still using BOFA, then honestly, you have no excuse.
    What this bank transfer day is about, is taking control over YOUR life, your finances – stop trusting people who are just out for a huge profit without giving anything back to the community.

    I don’t mind paying fees if it means its creating jobs. I don’t know about you, but all I see are people losing their jobs.

    I’m not saying companies don’t have a right to profit, but how can you justify annual bonus’ of a million dollars or more while people are getting their hard earned dollars stripped from them by the institutions they trust?
    How can you justify it when these people receive bigger bonus’ after they’ve laid off thousands of workers.

    I laugh at every fucking article I read when I see a commenter stating “business’ have a right to profit.”

    Re-read what I wrote and try to not look like a twat when you say those words again.

    • Difdi says:

      Businesses have a right to the opportunity to profit. Nobody and no thing has a right to profit itself.

      • grumpygirl says:

        And individuals have the right to take their business elsewhere, as well as to be as vocal as they wish about their reasons for doing so.

      • smo0 says:

        There’s profit, then there’s WTF MILLIONS… come on…

        what was it… I think I read something about the “comfortable” income where people are the happiest.. it was somewhere around $70,000 a year… yeah if I made that might, I’d be perfectly fine.

  15. C. Ogle says:

    I would be fearful of another inadvertent foreclosure if I were that guy. It’s not like BoA doesn’t get away with cleaning out people’s houses for no reason, whether they have a loan with them or not.

    • Murbobby says:

      I very much doubt they “Get away with it”. It is much more likely that they settle the impending lawsuit to the victims satisfaction and include a hush-hush agreement.

      If I was on a jury deciding such a case, there would be a lot of zeros in the jury award.
      I’m sure banks realize that and pay for their f*ck ups.

  16. TouchMyMonkey says:

    If you’re going to participate in Bank Transfer Day, I suggest doing so before noon because November 5th falls on a Saturday this year.

  17. bread angel says:

    B of A is protecting their assets, which is their right. A consumer also has the right to put their money in whatever banking institution they want. I chose a long time ago to never darken the doors of B of A and the do my personal banking at a credit union and my corporate banking at a local bank that is very solvent. Without being obsessed with it, I check all of my accounts daily just to make sure everything is in order. Right now, I am fighting with Wells Fargo over a payment which cleared and they said they never received. I will win, but I will never get back the time I have spent on their mistake.

  18. u1itn0w2day says:

    I’d say a typical reaction for someone who is afraid of competition and feels entitled to your business.

  19. AntiNorm says:

    And does anybody actually believe that that guy worked for BoA? He was trolling the protestors. No way was he a BoA employee.

  20. InsanePerson says:

    Best new way for BofA to keep customers from running – call in corporate security.

  21. elkhart007 says:

    Businesses do not have the right to make a profit. Just like we aren’t guarnteed happiness. We’re guaranteed the pursuit of it.

  22. markvii says:

    Stay classy, BOA….

  23. Tyanna says:

    Well, if he is a BoA employee, maybe he felt he did have the power to do it. I mean, they can foreclose on houses they don’t own, and they ruin the lives of people (not just their customers) on a daily basis. Perhaps he felt this was standard operating procedures….