Cutting Ties

Ben and I had a pretty crappy Wednesday.  It all started on Sunday night when I noticed a strange $20 withdrawal from our savings account.  We use our savings account to temporarily ‘hold’ money until we need it again.  I set aside our entire paychecks into that account, divvy it up between a whole bunch of categories, and transfer whatever we spend that week back into our checking accounts.  I don’t think we’ve made a withdrawal other than transfers from that account since it’s been open.  Needless to say, it set off an internal Kristy alarm.

I sent a secure message through our bank’s website  Monday morning to see what’s going on, but was told that because the status of the transaction was ‘pending’ they could do nothing for us yet.  I sent a message on  Tuesday after the amount had clearly been processed.  I called customer service on Wednesday and was told that it was my husband’s name on the withdrawal slip and that, “No ma’am, the handwriting on the account number does not match the numbers in the date or zip code.”  I ask them to fax me a copy of the withdrawal slip and the guy has the nerve to tell me that my HUSBAND will need to verify that he didn’t make that withdrawal because it was he who supposedly initiated the transaction.  I was livid.  I talked with a co-worker who used to work at a bank and he let me know that sometimes thieves will do a small transaction as a test to see if it goes through.  If they’re not caught, they then wipe out your entire account.  I called Ben and we made arrangements in the middle of the day to physically go to a bank branch to get it all hammered out.

Walked into the branch and waited until we could talk with ~Bob~.  Now ~Bob~ usually did investments but today he was going to help look into our potential fraudulent activity.   ~Bob~ was in way over his head.  Eventually he conferred with the bank manager and realized that the withdrawal slip was not in my husband’s handwriting and there was indeed a mistake.  Duh.  What ~Bob~ told us essentially happened is that there is another person (several, actually) with my husband’s name that has an account at the same bank.  When the teller looked up that guy’s account, she mistakenly pulled ours up instead, wrote down the account number on the withdrawal slip incorrectly, and gave him our $.  Double Duh.

Here’s where it gets extremely interesting.  The guy with the same name as Ben and banks at the same bank  just happens to live on the same road in a small rural area north of the city as my parents.  I would feel better if it was a different suburb of Columbus and it was a mistake, but to have the address on the withdrawal slip be an extremely rural country road just 2.2 miles from my parents was a little too hard for me to swallow.  I couldn’t help but wonder if our credit report had been accessed and bits and pieces of the information contained on there woven into some new identity.  I also checked the Delaware County Auditor’s Website and couldn’t find that name as a registered owner of that address; sometimes having a PDA phone comes in handy!

~Bob~ tried to play it off that we were all happy and life is good and no worries because it was just a ‘simple mistake, no harm done.’  Ben and I had discussed during his lengthy absence that we were going to close the accounts and move to another bank.  I had been doing some research because Ch@se had been nickeling and diming us on account fees so we made plans to head to National City (soon to become PNC Bank; we’ll be able to get Steelers debit cards – yay!).

Anyways, poor ~Bob~’s face fell when we told him that no, having them credit our $20 back to the account was NOT the end of it, but merely the beginning of what we needed him to do.  Soon he panicked and got the bank manager to talk with us.  She was definitely in closer mode – she needed to retain our accounts.  She asked why we were leaving when it obviously was a ‘simple case of switched account numbers.’  Ben and I just firmly repeated that we didn’t feel comfortable banking there anymore.  She then asked us where we were planning to go and I told her that I honestly didn’t know.  She and ~Bob~ then told us what they could do to put extra security on our account – bells, whistles, and red flags so that the tellers will scrutinize ID more closely when dealing with out account.  I looked at her and was like, “Um, aren’t you supposed to do that in the first place?”

She treated us like lepers when we asked for our funds as cash, not a certified check.  She didn’t do much to try to retain our business and we felt much better when we were gone.  We had to leave Ben’s checking account open because pending items are still clearing out of it; they were supposed to close it today (Thursday).  Funny thing happened though – that $20 they needed to credit us back is now in there.  Can they close it the account now?  I’ll have to try to transfer that $20 to my checking account and see if it will let me.  Why can’t they make this shit simple??

Anyway, we got the cash, we scooted to Ntl. City, opened our accounts, and are now waiting for the debit cards, checks, and online account access to arrive.  For the time being we’re subsisting solely on cash – an admittedly foreign concept for the both of us.  I’m liking it better than whipping out the debit card any time I need to make a purchase; it’s keeping me grounded.  Debit cards aren’t quite a tool of the devil, but the easy availability of funds gets me into trouble.

I’ve kept my checking account open for the time being so that I can let my automatic payments clear and start scheduling them with the new checking account.  No *wonder* the banking industry calls them sticky accounts – it’s such a pain in the ass to change all these automatic payments that you’ll stick with them no matter how badly your financial institution is taking advantage of you.  No more for this girl!

Have a fraud or horrible banking story?  I’d like to hear it – sound off!

~k

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Benjamin
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 21:28:19

    Yep! I sure do and it sounds a lot like yours!

    Smarty pants…

    Reply

  2. Sherri
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 23:49:25

    Sorry you had such a crappy day. I like the idea of having everything electronic, but it does make me nervous, since things like this have happened to me, too. Nothing quite so problematic, but still annoying. Glad you’re getting everything worked out.

    At least in this instance it seemed to be human error that caused the problem – the teller didn’t pay attention to whose account she pulled up and/or didn’t verify the address well enough on the ID. Safeguards obviously failed here.

    This whole living on cash thing is interesting. I may have to continue it 🙂

    Reply

  3. DarcKnyt
    Jul 31, 2009 @ 00:39:04

    Sounds like a big, big headache. And the customer service aspect seems all to familiar, too. Better luck with the new accounts.

    Yeah, headache is such an underrated word for it. I prefer gigantic humungous cluster… well, uh, you get the idea. Maybe this was a bad thing that will turn into a good thing, yanno? The whole getting Steelers debit cards isn’t bad either 😉

    Reply

  4. DarcsFalcon
    Aug 01, 2009 @ 02:09:41

    Having worked in a bank, I can tell you that teller failure is a problem. Yep, I was a teller, and in my 1st bank job, I made a big mistake, not long after I started. It was my last one, too. Absolutely she didn’t compare addresses on the ID AND/OR someone got a copy of your credit report – which also has parts of account #’s, and in writing up the w/d ticket he claimed to have forgotten part of the acct #, so she filled in the rest for him.

    This is one reason why it pays to be a regular customer at your bank, so the tellers get to know you. I would have known if someone came in using Mr Smith’s account # and wasn’t actually Mr Smith.

    The were rude to you at your bank and should never have treated you that way. For all they know, things won’t work out for you at new bank and you might want to come back. Bankers are actually whores and get livid when the money goes, but they should still kiss your ass anyway. That’s just good customer service, to leave you with a smile and a so sorry we couldn’t work things out, good luck at your new bank, blahdy blah blah. Which reminds me, I have a great banker joke I’ll have to tell you soon.
    🙂

    I’d still check out your credit report though, make sure no one’s trying to open new accounts in your name. And also, if it’s possible to dump the auto-pays, I’d do it. It’s so much easier to go through a money program, rather than have the company tap into your bank account. I use MSMoney 03, and they have an APAY thing you can use to set up auto-pays from MSMoney rather than having someone else access your bank account. It keeps YOU in control of your money. Lastly, you might want to ditch that online thing you were using. I know it’s convenient, but they are magnets for hackers and probably not as safe – and certainly not as financially invested in safety – as your bank.

    Oh, I did a search at switchboard.com, for all the Ben’s in OH and came up with a dozen besides you. Maybe the one who’s account got mixed up with yours is listed, even if he’s not a property owner. Still sounds fishy to me though. But at least you’ve nipped it in the bud. 🙂

    Reply

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