Lost Cellphone At Credit Union, Would They Turn Over The Surveillance Tapes?

“I went to my Credit Union last night to pay my car payment. I think during sometime between getting out the appropriate papers and leaving the place I must have misplaced my phone. On my drive home, I realized I didn’t have my phone. Went back to the Credit Union asked if anyone had turned in a phone. No luck. Called again this morning to see if they had found one. No luck…”

I called my phone yesterday and it rang and rang and no one picked up. I called this morning, either the battery drained out, or the “finder” has turned it off.

I asked the CSR over the phone to ask if they’d let me or the police view video from within the branch. She said I’d have to talk to the branch manager. My question is, would they let me view the video or even match up the person who “found” the phone, by transaction time and info?


This issue came up before when a mentally deteriorating and elderly aunt’s safe deposit box was raided by a conwoman who had wormed her way into her confidence and gotten her to sign over power of attorney. In that case, Bank of America refused to release video or documentation do anything without being subpoenaed. The same principle probably applies here, but it never hurts to ask. While you wait for that request to process, take the opportunity to doublecheck around the house and under the floor mats.

(Photo: Maulleigh)


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  1. dbeahn says:

    Gotta say, I understand why they wouldn’t want to let anyone see the tapes. It could be ANYONE asking. They’ll be able to see employees, security procedures, if there are employees that don’t follow procedures as carefully as they should, might be able to see private info on papers or screens (depending on the quality of the cameras, which can be pretty good) etc etc etc.

    I can understand why they’d want to be able to have a paper trail that the tapes were released to the appropriate authorities and reviewed by law enforcement only.

  2. yahonza says:

    Yeah, there’s a chain of custody issue too. Its nice to know that the tapes can’t be touched by anyone just claiming to have lost a phone at the bank.

    Now the old lady case, if there was a valid legal action going on, the subpoena should be no problem. And I think it is a good policy to only release tapes pursuant to subpoena.

  3. philbert says:

    I hope she had the good sense to notify her cell phone provider. Unless she has filed a police report the provider might stick her for any calls made on the phone.

  4. MeOhMy says:

    I can’t see them giving you the tapes (or the police without a warrant/subpoena), but depending on the system they are using and how nice they are, they might at least be able to look on your behalf.

  5. Curiosity says:

    Why would they have to turn them over to the consumer?

    They should have them organized by date and time, and should have a security person to view them even if you can’t. So at the very least, they may be able to identify if you lost your phone there rather than somewhere else.

    It seems like you just need a yes or a no that the phone was misplaced there.

    However have you considered phoning your celluar company and asking when the last call was made from the phone and the number? That way at least you may be able to deduce, if it was taken.

    Remember that although you may have property rights in the phone, you did lose it and depending on the common law/statute/facts of the case the state the person who found it may have rights to the phone, though subordinate to yours.

    Good luck. It is a painful experience that has at least taught me to backup my numbers (via bluetooth).

  6. vonskippy says:

    It’s 2007 – look into ONLINE bill paying – then you can be as forgetful as a rock and you won’t lose your cell phone (or at least you’ll just lose it in your house).

  7. rbb says:

    The headline needs to be changed – it was a CREDIT UNION, not a BANK. Big difference between the two.

  8. getjustin says:

    Not that I don’t want you to get your phone back, but I hope they don’t let you or any other customer use their tapes for anything other than something dealing specifically with bank business. It sets a bad precedent if anyone who has some infraction perpetrated against them can request video of anyone who might have been watching.

  9. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    The same thing happened to me at my local Panera Bread. I was packing up my laptop and work papers and neglected to put my cell phone in my purse. When I got home and realized it was lost, I headed back to the restaurant and the phone was gone. A waiter said he saw the phone when he was busing my table, but when he came back to wipe it down, the phone was gone.

    In my case, the floor manager was very apologetic at first. She said they would look on the video tapes and see who took my phone. But when I returned the next day, she denied she ever made me such a promise, because it was against company policy for them to review surveillance tapes. Well, why do you have them then?
    In the end, my cell phone provider (T-Mobile) was very understanding and they didn’t demand a police report or anything. I had insurance so I was able to get an upgraded phone for free. But it was very frustrating to not know the truth when there was evidence available to find it out.

  10. jrdnjstn78 says:

    I know where I work at we look at the security tapes all the time. Customers can’t look but any employee can but you have to get with the LP guy because he has the password to get into the system.

    The people at the credit union should at least be able to go and look and see if she did leave her phone at the credit union.

    Online billing is good suggestion too because usually they show a call detail instantly and you can find out who celled your phone last or who they called last.

  11. Scuba Steve says:

    It really depends on the branch. I doubt they would let customers in general view the tapes, especially if they feared someone casing the joint for a robbery.

  12. marsneedsrabbits says:

    What do you do if you find that person on the tape? Do you then want the CU to turn over their customer list? How about just people who stood in the deposit line? Or what if they stood in line for a loan officer – do you then get to peruse the list of people who needed to re-negotiate loans yesterday?
    I can think of a lot of reasons you might want to see the tape. Maybe you want to check up on your wife or husband. Maybe you want to get a better look at the guy/chick in line in front of you the day before. Maybe you really did loose your cell phone and want to see if anyone found it. But none of those are good enough reasons to hand over the security tape to you.
    In the case of a crime being committed, where the police are involved, sure; they should hand over the tapes when the police ask with a subpoena.
    In the case of “some guy says he lost his cell phone, so can he look and see who did business at the bank yesterday between the hours of 3:00 – 5:00”?
    Not so much.

  13. whereismyrobot says:

    I work at a place with cameras and if you just lost your phone we won’t check for you. However if the item is stolen, then we will check into it.

    Why should employees spend hours out of their day to help you because you are forgetful?

  14. North of 49 says:

    call the phone and see if someone answers.

  15. You hate your job but you're still working there? says:

    I had a similar issue when I got mugged for my new bike in front of a convenience store.

    The store manager wouldn’t turn over the surveillance tapes unless the thief was being prosecuted in court and the DA got a subpoena.
    However, police needed the tapes to see what he looked like, otherwise they weren’t willing to do anything about it.
    Two hours later the same guy shows up with my bike at the grocery store I was working in at the time. He was arrested for shop-lifting and the bike remained chained to a cart corral outside. By the time I got my break and went outside to cut the lock, someone else had already stolen it.

  16. clickertrainer says:

    I had the same thought. What is she going to do, hunt down the face on the video with her phone and demand her phone back? At the very least, she should offer to pay the CU for lost employee time while the employees are reviewing the tape for her.

    Better yet, call it an expensive lesson learned.

  17. Morgan says:

    @North of 49: Is it really so hard to read the article?

  18. Sidecutter says:

    @North of 49: Reading the article before replying tends to help.

  19. Erskine says:


    Because you will lose my business and the business of everyone I come into contact with in my day to day life.

  20. Erskine says:

    @clickertrainer: Unless an employee took it…

  21. not_seth_brundle says:

    I don’t understand the point of this post–we are just supposed to guess at the outcome? Does the person who comes closest to the correct answer get to keep the phone?

  22. raybury says:

    Garonyldas: You know that place where you live?

    Move away!

  23. kc2gvx says:

    Take it from a manager from a large regional bank here on the east cost. We cannot turn the tapes over to just anyone. File a police report right away. Then bring the report to a manager in the building. Ask the manager if the security department from the bank can review the tape during the specified time. Even if they have the individual on camera taking the phone, he might not be identifiable. Also, chances are the police won’t spend a lot of time checking databases for faces. Your best chance is the security department sends the branch manager a still image of the theif, and they, or any employee in the building knows the theif. Best wishes.

  24. SadSam says:

    Um, not to be mean…. but you misplaced your phone – your fault and as a result you must use your resources to replace the phone. I can’t imagine a business using their resources to help you out on this one. It might be a different story if you were the victim of a crime but even so I wouldn’t want the CU handing out copies of the tapes without a court order or subpoena.

  25. mac-phisto says:

    @Erskine: hmm. interesting. you might want to avoid shopping in any environment that boasts a “surveillance system on premise” sign. i would bet almost all of those locations will refuse to help you.

    in the case of large corporations, many times the tapes aren’t even on location, so getting corporate to release them would require a subpoena. even on location, access is typically restricted to one or a few people. this is for good reason. for one, it ensures their integrity should they be entered as evidence in a court of law.

    i think people are missing the point of these systems, & using them to track down a lost cell phone is superfluous. you lost your phone…that sucks. freeze your account (before someone runs up $15,000 in calls to bolivia) & go shopping for a new one.

  26. Kat says:

    Once when I was at Wal-Mart, some jackass on a motorcycle accused me of almost knocking him over when I turned. He started following my car around the lot screaming at me, and then tried to block my car from moving. Wal-Mart wouldn’t let me look at the security video… they reviewed it and “didn’t find anything.” I didn’t go to the police because once I started screaming for help, the guy took off and I didn’t get his bike’s license plate, so nothing would have been done anyways.

  27. Chaosium says:

    @SadSam: I agree. Sucks to be you, but this is not in any way comparable to the lady with safe deposit box issues.

  28. allstarecho says:

    Must have been an iPhone to want to go through all that trouble, and not a new “$200 less iPhone” either. har har

  29. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @whereismyrobot: Why should employees be helpful? Why the hell should I let you videotape me then, jerkweed?

  30. pepelicious says:

    why don’t you go to the FBI and ask them to ping the secret little chip
    they put in every cellphone to track our movements and conversations?

  31. Exek says:

    Tapes??? That so 1990 lol most companies today are digital. For Example the company I work for the cameras are connected to some type of DVR and the feed goes directly over the network to corporate security. At our location we won’t even have access to see any of the video. The only thing we can see is the monitor that shows the live feed of the cameras so we can see the cameras are functioning correctly pointing at the right spots.

  32. Little Miss Moneybags says:

    And CALL YOUR CELL PHONE PROVIDER to report the phone as lost or stolen. I hope the OP did that before calling the bank.

  33. vonskippy says:

    I think it’s safe to say we all hope this person isn’t a parent of a small child. That and perhaps cell-phone-on-a-rope would be a good invention.

  34. Teapotfox says:

    The idea that any establishment, especially one so frequently dealing with sensitive personal information as a credit union, would let a customer review surveillance footage is laughable. And for them to turn over access to a law enforcement officer who has no subpoena or warrant is nearly equally so… do you really want law enforcement to be able to supersede the law for your personal convenience, with all that entails?

    As many others have noted, there are myriad reasons a company would not want outsiders reviewing their tapes, many pertaining to disclosure of confidential and proprietary information. The company I work for, which has many of its locations now under tape-free, Loss Prevention access only, digital surveillance, requires that even subpoenas and warrants be handled by the legal department. Just because you work for a company, even if you manage one of its locations or branches, does not mean you are authorized by the company to accept subpoenas and warrants on its behalf (not personally served, but served to the company).

  35. miborovsky says:

    Sure they would! I mean, credit unions love their customers, right? They exist to serve and better your life, don’t they? They are soooooo much better than big evil banking conglomerates, so OF COURSE they will turn over the tapes! :p

  36. whereismyrobot says:

    @ Dr_Cos: Our cameras are for the safety of our students, not for some idiot who can’t hang on to their cell phone.

  37. MorgueReader says:

    @miborovsky: I haven’t paid an ATM fee in years because my Credit Union loves me. How’s life with your big evil banking conglomerate?

  38. At this point, you call your carrier, and tell them to cancel the phone. Right about now is when you look back and hope you took the offer for their lost, damaged, or stolen phone insurance…

  39. aphexacid says:

    is it that serious? unless we’re talking about an iphone or or other expensive smartphone, get over it.