Bank of America Closes Fraud Victim Accounts with $50 Fee
In summary, I was the victim of bank account fraud five years ago. I worked with Bank of America to credit back my account and open a new account. Five years later the bank abruptly closed my account based only on the fact that they closed an account in the past as a result of fraud. On top of this, they charged my account $50 before refunding my balance.
In 2005, my Bank of America checking account was breached. I live in Seattle, WA and discovered a withdrawal from my account in Alabama. I immediately contacted Bank of America that told me my mailing address was changed in their system to an Alabama address. Apparently, someone was able to contact Bank of America, convince them that they were me, change the address on the account and issue a new debit card to the new address. We worked with Bank of America to close the account and issue a new checking account. The bank credited the account for the lost money and everything seemed resolved.
I have always been a very good Bank of America Customer. I conduct most banking electronically and do not run overdrafts. I own a premium Bank of America credit card and owned a savings CD. Earlier this year, in 2010 I opened a new business account and credit card. Everything was going well with the account until we received a letter regarding our new business accounts.
The letter stated that Bank of America "has elected to close your account in accordance with the provisions of our Deposit Agreement and disclosures provided". It goes on to state that Bank of America "may report the account to Chex Systems, Inc., an account verification service. This may adversely impact your ability to open an account at another financial institution for up to five years." There was no explanation for the account closures; however it included a phone number for questions.
Instead of calling the phone number, I decided to go into my local bank branch. The banking center manager told me there was nothing wrong with any of my accounts and did not know why the new business account would have been closed. The manager contacted the Bank of America Risk Identification Center and was told that the reason for the closure was due to a 2005 incident involving "electronic transfers". They had no more information except to say that "any time an account is closed by the Risk Identification department, the customer can no longer conduct business with Bank of America."
I explained the event to him and he proceeded to tell the bank branch manager that she could try speaking with bank management. Two days later I received a voice message from the branch manager apologizing for the policy, but that they could not reinstate the accounts. I went to the branch and visited with the manager again.
The manager told me that the Risk Identification department was formed only two years ago and was not in existence when the incident happened. She told me that if I had information from 2005 to show what happened, they could review it and possibly reopen my accounts. I told her that the bank investigated this back in 2005 and should have all of the information already. It's apparent that the bank has very little information from five years ago wants me to provide it again. Bank of America handled the matter in 2005 and did not provide me with any follow up correspondence as to the details after. She mentioned that there was no risk to any of my personal accounts (the accounts I re-established in 2005).
I called the Risk Identification department again to ensure that there were no other reasons for closing a perfectly good account. The woman on the phone reassured me that the reason for the closure was only the event to my personal account in 2005 and it is their policy to close all customer accounts that for whatever reason, were closed by their Risk department. I told her that in 2005 I worked with Bank of America to close the account and reopen a new account. Again, she had no details about my specific event and indicated that the details did not matter. Obviously this department was not around in 2005 and they are creating blanket policies that affect all past customers with banking incidents.
Also interesting is that the representative had no idea about the other accounts I had at Bank of America (not even the personal account I re-established in 2005). When I mentioned it, she looked up my account numbers and said that these may be in the process of closure as well.
Bank of America is passing the blame to their customers. When criminals breach Bank of America security protocols and they decide to close an affected customer account, they will not allow you to conduct business again with Bank of America and will post a notice on the Chex system for all banks to see. The details of the events leading to closure do not matter and they may not even have any past records of the event. They essentially pass the buck to the fraud victim and even charge $50 to seal the deal.