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View Diary: The bank said 'You'll be back.' (549 comments)

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  •  B of A story (1+ / 0-)
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    Because my checking is in a joint account (at a small local conservative bank), and my wife needed to pay bills from it, I found myself without the funds to keep up with a smallish credit card debt, and ended up having to negotiate a deal with people collecting past due B of A credit accounts. They offered me a great deal - about $350 to cover a debt of about $1000, but with dire consequences for my already precarious credit rating. We agreed on a monthly sum, two or three payments to cover the total they had offered (or so I thought). I called back because I didn't recall whether I'd agreed to reduced amount and we had a conversation indicating this was in effect.
    So far so good. (I'd realized my credit rating was hopeless anyway.) Then a further auto-withdrawal from my checking account came out, after the total (of $350 or so) was already covered. I thought perhaps because I was paying in installments rather than a lump sum, there might have been some extra fees and interest charges. Okay, fair enough. I called just to make sure we were done, and at that point they told me they had no record of any deal or even of any offer!
    For months we went back and forth (I had instructed my bank to issue no more automatic withdrawals to B of A), and each time I called I discussed the whole story with supervisors, and even with the supervisors of the supervisors, but the answer was always that they'd have to pass on the information to THEIR supervisors (inaccessible by the masses in their corporate fortress) for a decision, and the answer always came back in the form of yet another form letter demanding payment and adding new charges.
    Meanwhile, I had managed to convince someone on the phone to read me verbatim the transcripts of previous conversations, and what I heard was vague summaries with information that was neither complete nor accurate - so they obviously couldn't be trusted to say what had been agreed on, or not, or when.
    After about five or six months of this runaround, I tried contacting the New York State Attorney General's banking fraud division. Their system for fielding calls and making complaints proved utterly impossible to navigate, so then I decided to try the FBI.
    The FBI has a remarkably user-friendly web site and a system for reaching real humans with authority to answer questions. I almost lodged an official complaint with the Feds. The FBI lady and I agreed on the phone it must be a fairly typical case and a common practice for the B of A, to offer deals and then deny it, and it would be a good idea to get it on the record. But first, I figured I might as well make one more call to B of A to let them know this was my intention if I didn't finally get a satisfactory response from them about this alleged debt. I had to leave messages on the answering machines of supervisors, which I did, making it very clear that I believed I was dealing with criminal fraud at this point.
    I never heard from B of A again after that.

    •  Get it in writing. (1+ / 0-)
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      If you cut a deal to pay 35% of what you owe, get that deal in writing.

      Do not pay anything until you get it in writing.  Do not authorize any payments until you get it in writing.  I don't think I'd give them my bank account number, whether I had the agreement in writing or not (too much possibility for shenanigans).

      At this point, lesson learned, I suppose.  Unfortunately, you'd never be able to prove it was "bank fraud".  You don't have a written agreement and there's no way you can prove the oral one.

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