BofA Locked Our Account Down While We Went Away

Alex says Bank of America’s efforts to protect him and his wife from fraud have stranded them in Salt Lake City without access to their accounts. He says the bank mixed up his and his wife’s security info, leaving neither of them able to break down the security walls. He writes:

My wife and two kids decided to travel to see family for the holidays. We drove from the Seattle, WA area to Salt Lake City. After being here for a few days and making purchases, suddenly a hold was put on our account. I was a little embarrassed at the store, but I had a little money to cover the costs. When I got back to the family’s house I called Bank of America to find out what happened and remove the hold. After finally getting through to a person (the automated menu’s only offer to check my balance – I had to guess that asking for a person would work), I was asked some security questions. Unfortunately these were not the security questions that I filled out for my online account – these were questions they made up like what was the last amount of money added to my account and my birthdate. Seeing as how I had just transferred some money into that account and I thought I knew my birthday, I was pretty confident.

Apparently I don’t know when I was born. After the birthday question they asked for the birthday of the primary account holder. Assuming I answered wrong, I guessed my wife must be the primary holder and gave her birthday. I was promptly informed that I has answered wrong and needed to go into a branch with 2 forms of picture ID. I quickly looked online for the nearest branch to Salt Lake City, UT. Bank of America’s website informed me there was not a branch within 100 miles. And in the spirit of awesome customer service, Bank of America Custom Service reps told me to just drive to Arizona. What? Drive over 100 miles because you randomly put a hold on my account? I can’t even buy the gas to do that, because I can’t use my debit card because of the hold. After quite a few calls to B of A’s fraud department, they conceded that driving to Arizona was a little crazy, and said we could fax them our credit/debit card (front and back) and drivers licenses along and sign it 3 times.

Since the family where we were staying didn’t have a fax (ever heard of email?) we went to the local UPS Store to fax this info. We returned to the house, waited the requisite hour and called Bank of America again. They informed us they had not received the fax, so we looked closely at the sent fax. Although we had written the fax number correctly, the UPS Store transposed 2 numbers and faxed our information to a random fax number.

On the downside some random person has our credit card (front and back) and our driver licenses along with our signatures. On the upside Bank of America now has an actual fraud case.

We don’t even know what to do because now if we cancel our cards we have no way to get home and any new cards would be sent to our home address.

Alex also added an addendum:

We found out from the fraud people that when they signed up our account they crossed my wife’s and my information, so at least some of her information (we don’t actually know the full extent) is my information (mother’s maiden name, etc). So we can’t actually pass the security questions until we go to a branch to sort that part out.

Alex’s burden shows why it’s wise to check your security questions when you’re not stranded miles from home and your account isn’t placed on hold. What would you do in his situation?

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