BofA Identity Theft Victim Gets Massive Runaround

Carmela’s Bank of America bank account was stolen. Someone was posting fraudulent transactions on her account. When she reported it to BofA, she entered into a colossal fun trap of transfers and incompetent support staff, even after visiting the branch on 107th and Broadway in Manhattan. However, rather than fighting The Man, she should have:

• Opened a new BofA account
• Transferred funds from the old to the new
• Canceled the old BofA account
• Informed the people receiving your checks that someone stole your bank account so can they please rip up the check and wait for a new one
• Written those people new checks
• Gotten on with her life

Instead she fought the law, the law almost won, but she managed to shoot a few deputies. Her letter, inside…

Here is the complaint letter Carmela wrote Bank of America:

    “I have been a customer with Bank of America since 2001. I have never had problems with the service before. In fact, I would tell my friends how great the customer service is. The ATMs are accessible everywhere. I even referred my mother. A good example of Bank of America’s customer service is that I received a phone call when I changed my address to New York. (I was currently living in St. Louis.)

    But, now, I have to take back my words. I have never experienced such incompetency like I did yesterday, Jan. 3, 2007. I experienced less than standard service although Bank of America prides itself on “higher standards.” I usually check my bank accounts every day. Yesterday afternoon, I noticed 2 fraudulent charges on my checking account although I still had my debit card in my possession. (I only use my ATM card for withdrawing/depositing money.) I called customer service, and the representative referred me to the claims department. It seems the thief had my routing number and account number. The thief was making purchases electronically. The claims rep gave me a claim number for one transaction so I could receive my money back. The rep told me that I had to wait for the 2nd transaction to post on my account. (It was still pending.) Once it posts, then I could make a claim. But, I could not close my account because I had to wait for this 2nd transaction to post. So, I asked for my account to be frozen, and the rep said that option was not the best. I asked, “What if this person continues making charges?” Then, the rep said that the claims department could take further action on all charges. I was displeased with this answer, and after talking with my mother, I went to a banking center to speak to someone face-to-face. I went to the 107th and Broadway banking center in Manhattan, and none of the representatives knew what action to take. They told me to call Customer Service. It is ridiculous that so many Bank of America employees do not know what action to take when identity fraud/fraudulent charges occur. Is this crime not a priority for Bank of America? Are these employees untrained, or is there no existing training protocol?

    Again, I talked to customer service, and again, I was transferred to the Claims Department. This gentleman told me to open another account and to transfer my money. I asked him about the checks I had written to pay for my rent and other such bills. He suggested that I leave the correct amount in the former account for the checks. After about an hour, I left the bank.

    Later that night, I was still displeased because currently, nothing is stopping this thief from taking more money from me. My checks could bounce. Does Bank of America prefer to go through claims to resolve the issue? I would think that prevention is the best strategy for both of us. For the third time, I called Customer service around 7PM. I specifically asked to freeze my account. The Customer service rep said that only Claims can freeze my account. Once I was transferred to Claims, this rep told me that only Customer Service could freeze my account. When I spoke to the 2nd Customer service rep, this woman said that she could not do it although I had told her I was in a transfer loop with these departments. She told me that she would put a stop payment on the 2 vendors that is associated with the fraudulent transactions. She told me that this would prevent any additional charges from them.

    I called again around 10PM because I felt that Bank of America was not doing anything to protect me. This Customer Service representative said that the only way to freeze my account is to go to an actual banking center. At this point, I was highly irritated. Not only did I have to put up with such incompetency, I have to deal with other vendors and their long waiting times as well. I ask this gentleman, “What am I suppose to do? If I wait for this one transaction to post, what makes you think that another transaction will not occur? Then, I’ll have to wait for that transaction to post.” He was no help.

    So, I prayed that by midnight the 2nd transaction would have posted, and I could make a claim and close the account. But by 12:15AM, it still did not post. I decided to go to bed. I woke up at 5:30 AM to see if it posted, and I would still have free nights on my cellphone before I ran into my anytime minutes. (Because of all the vendors/institutions I had to call yesterday, I had gone over my monthly plan.) And to my surprise, 2 more fraudulent charges showed up in my pending transactions, and I was charged $28 for the stop payment. The lady representative did not tell me that this action would cost me money especially since I thought it was the only preventative option available. It is outrageous that I am being charged for preventing fraudulent charges on my own account. At this point, what exactly does Bank of America do to protect me as a customer? I was livid, but Customer Service opens at 7AM. I called Customer Service for the 5th time promptly at 7AM.

    Bank of America is lucky that I spoke to 2 employees who resolved my problem because if this situation was not resolved this time, I was going to go to the banking center and close all of my accounts (2 checkings, 1 savings, and 2 credit cards). The Customer Service rep was able to put a “balance hold” on my account. Is this term unknown to other Customer Service representatives? Do they not know that this action is the same thing as freezing an account? I was able to make a 2nd claim for the transaction that I was waiting for earlier. Ron Duncan (by this time, I realized that I should be taking names) credited my account for the stop payment fee. He also tried stopping the payments for the 2 new pending transactions. He told me that it would not work 100%, but since I was able to hold my balance, I was satisfied. He did apologize for all of my inconveniences which is the first apology I have heard.

    As I am writing this e-mail, I am getting angry and wondering why I should still utilize Bank of America. I will definitely not refer people anymore. I will not be opening any new accounts with Bank of America. During this whole ordeal, I did not feel that my interests were a priority to the bank. As a victim, I, myself, could not do anything to stop this crime, and I had to completely depend on Bank of America who had failed me. I would greatly appreciate a response to this e-mail, and I hope changes will be made.”

PS Bank of America customer service sucks. Don’t bank there. — BEN POPKEN