Monday, October 8, 2012

Bank of America's $888,888.88 Surprise

If you have a Bank of America checking account, you could find yourself nearly a million dollars in debt as a result of depositing a check that bounces.

I've been a Bank of America customer since 1998 and have never had a problem with my checking account until last week when I noticed an $888,888.88 withdrawal appear. As a software developer, my first thought was some sort of system error so I searched the internet to see how many other people had experienced similar glitches, but I seemed to be the only one. Then I started to worry that it was fraud so I contacted customer support. They transferred me to Sheldon Walker in the Global Fraud Prevention department where I was informed that they had applied this charge to prevent me from using my account. Their justification was that a check from my renter had bounced leaving insufficient funds, so to ensure that the bounced check was re-payed they deducted nearly a million dollars from my checking account. Sheldon gave me his direct number (626-397-6029) and told me he would have to be contacted to remove the hold once my account had sufficient funds to cover the bounced check.

I knew my client's next invoice was being processed Thursday night so I waited until the funds were deposited and called Sheldon first thing Friday morning. I left a voice mail message that the funds had been added and I needed the fake charge removed. With the weekend fast approaching I called back every hour leaving a new message, but Sheldon never returned my call. 

I've never heard of a bank purposefully creating fake withdrawals of arbitrary amounts and can't fathom why they didn't place a hold for the amount of the bounced check. It all seems quite unprofessional and makes me think I need to find a bank that will take better care of their account holders.

Apparently I'm not alone. Here are others who have gone through the same nightmare including a TV news story:


UPDATE 10/09/2012:
I received an email notification this morning that my Savings account balance had dropped to $0. When I logged into online banking I found that Bank of America had drained my savings account as "OVERDRAFT TRANSFER HOLD". I tried one last time to reach Sheldon Walker, the employee to whom I first spoke with regarding the hold, but my call went to voicemail so I decided to try another route.

I then called BoA Risk Management (877-240-6886 option 2) and was transferred to someone who was able to remove the -$888,888.88 entry. They were very apologetic and, after a few minutes on hold, informed me that they had removed the extra fees that had been added as a result of the hold. I can verify that my account now shows no trace of the $888k entry and I'm back to black. The savings transfer hold and overdraft fees still show up, but I'll give those a while to clear before calling back.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
I'm happy to have my account back, however this whole experience has shaken any faith I had in Bank of America as a safe place for my money. Because one deposited check bounced, I lost access to my account for nearly a week and watched my savings siphoned off into a black hole of fake transactions. If not for my own persistence, this would have surely gone on much longer as nobody from Bank of America ever initiated contact with me. I had to investigate the cause for the mysterious charge and hunt down someone who could rectify the situation. There's no excuse for a bank hanging a customer out to dry like that with no indication of the cause or what needs to be done.

Time after time, Bank of America makes it clear that the customer is NOT their priority so I'll be moving my personal checking, savings, and business accounts as soon as I can decide on a new home for my money.

1 comments:

  1. I agree. I dont think withdrawing a million dollars from the account is a way to block the account. This definitely needs to be fixed. No bank I know has ever told they would do this to block the account.

    I am a software engineer. I know there are several ways in which this can be addressed. I think we should inform the banks about this irritating issue May be we all can start a case in change.org and get the banks change this system

    ReplyDelete