Financial ‘Institutions’?

Some time ago I had a savings account with a bank that opened my eyes to an issue. I had received my Statement for my savings account, but I did not have to open it. It seems either the machine failed to seal the envelope or someone opened it without tearing the flap.

Now I was naturally concerned about my account and information. And rightful so, these days it takes so little for thieves to gain access to our whole lives. I of course did the rational thing, I called my financial institution worried this would happen to me. It’s when I learned something about this Bank and other Banks policies.

You see there is a major disconnect in their systems. These places will not protect your account but they will let you fill out forms to dispute charges to your account, for missing money and you pay monthly charges for this privilege.

The call to my Financial Institution went like this. I explained what had happened and the polite Representative on the phone said she note my account and send a message to the appropriate department advising them that their machine missed an envelope. I asked is that it? She responded with “Umm…Sorry?!” What?? ‘Umm sorry’ and a note is all they can do?

Now I really wanted to get ahead of any issues and so I quite reasonably said ” I was hoping to have an alert put on my account. Something to have the Bank be aware of any unusual activity.” To which her response was “We don’t do that. We just can’t keep that kind of track of people’s accounts. We would just have no way of knowing what your last check that cleared or transaction was and what might be fraud.”

Now, like most folks in this world, I always bank in the same manor. As this was a savings account I had for 5 years, I was only making deposits by direct deposit and all withdrawals were made in person at the Bank. Not to mention that I never had checks created nor an ATM card made. I would think it would be pretty simple to see if any fraudulent transactions. (i.e.: online orders, checks appearing, etc) They just can’t seem to take the time to learn the habits of their long time customers. At least not at this small Bank. (they can tell customers driving past by their cars and know people’s first names on sight. But not this.)

They did make one offer. They said I could close that account and open a new one. I did not see the advantage of having that when they could not seem to keep track of their current accounts.

I did take them up on their offer to close the account. Problem is, where to open a new one? So I took a drive to 4 or 5 different Banks to pose to them, this same scenario. They all seem to have the same policy. They would not provide protection to your money or information. It’s all ‘trust us with your financial future’, then allow thieves to steal your information. No proactive, all clean up after you’ve been hit. They need to remember, there is a long, established fact that thieves hit mailboxes looking for personal information, gift cards, cash, etc. By not doing anything to prevent theft, there are in fact assisting in it.

Where’s the trust? Where is the safety? I still have not opened a new account for savings. Due to lack of trust. So we should all be resigned to the knowledge that if you receive an opened statement, your Bank will not do anything to protect you?! That the only response is the work you will have to do after your identity is stolen?

So now, do you and your money feel safe yet?

Yeah, me neither.

(editor’s note: Of late, I have seen ads from Banks showing new systems that will alert you to any unusual activity on your account. Perhaps they finally got the message? In any case, it’s a very hopeful sign.)

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