Why Did Bank Of America Take Money From My Personal Account To Pay My Business Debt?

Consumerist reader Chris wrote in because Bank of America somehow decided that the best way to get money from his father’s business was to simply take it from his parents’ joint bank account.

As Chris tells the story:

My dad owns a small business. A few years ago Bank of America called and offered him a line of credit and he took their offer. Last year my dad’s business wasn’t doing so good and the company fell behind on the line of credit. At the same time both of my parents were also doing their personal banking through Bank of America. So without consent, Bank of America removed the past due balance on the line of credit from my parents’ joint bank account.

Since then he’s been in an endless phone battle trying to get this money put back. They keep passing him around and every department says it’s not their responsibility. The most recent person he talked to said that he would have to file a lawsuit just to get a copy of his file.

Chris says that his father’s business is incorporated and there were never any promissory notes signed with Bank of America. So even though both accounts were at the same bank, BofA had no right to take the money out of the joint account.

As in most situations where consumers believe their bank is at fault, we suggest the following:
• Contact the bank, not just the branch, with a formal complaint. You can do this in writing, or by email. Keep a copy of this complaint for your records.
• Figure out which agency regulates your bank by calling or using FDIC’s Bank Find.
• Write a formal complaint letter to the bank’s regulatory agency. Follow the FTC’s instructions for writing a complaint.

This document also has the correct contact information for the various regulatory agencies. Keep a copy of this complaint for your records.

According to the FDIC, “The regulatory agencies will be able to help resolve the complaint if the financial institution has violated a banking law or regulation. They may not be able to help where the consumer is not satisfied with an institution’s policy or practices, even though no law or regulation was violated. Additionally, the regulatory agencies do not resolve factual or most contractual disputes.”

By filing a complaint, the regulating agency will investigate whether the bank actually violated any banking regulations.

If you are considering pursuing legal action, here is a site with some very helpful information about filing a suit in small claims court.

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