Ally froze my account and bounced checks without notifying me

Ally froze my account and bounced checks without notifying me
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#1

Does a bank have any legal requirement to notify a customer if it temporarily freezes their account for possible identify fraud and consequently bounce incoming checks and auto debits? Especially if there was no fraud.

Ally left voicemail for my wife to call them. When she returned call she of course knew her SS#, birthdate, etc but she could not answer what was her online username (she rarely uses) or the amount of last deposit, so Ally would not talk to her. Fine, they are being careful.

Unbeknownst to us, however, they also froze our checking account for next two days while they investigated and proceeded to bounce several incoming checks, including her student loan auto debit. We never received any notice from Ally and there is no indication in our online account that outstanding checks/debits were ever presented and then rejected. There was plenty of money in the account at all times. Several weeks go by and Navient writes saying her student loan account was delinquent with fines and auto debit now cancelled. Other people called complaining our checks had bounced and they had fees.

When I called Ally to find out why this happened they explained this was just their procedure when caller identification fails and “sorry for any inconvenience.” If you can’t remember your third cousin’s middle name tough luck to you. Your money is frozen.

I’m ticked off and want to complain to the CFPB or whoever regulates them. Surely if they freeze a customer’s account because of suspected fraud they should have some obligation to notify the customer. Don’t they?


#2

What prompted Ally to leave your wife a voicemail in the first place? I feel like there’s more to this…


#3

We had moved recently and when they mailed her new check card it was returned to them rather than forwarded to our new address. So they were calling her to confirm her new address. She just could not answer a security question when she returned the call. I had updated my address btw, but I could not update her address online even though we have joint checking account.


#4

It should be standard procedure to notify all account owners when a financial institution does anything that would prevent access to the funds. I don’t know what regulations require though. You received no voicemail, email, or letter specifically stating the funds were frozen?

It’s been awhile because I don’t use checks that often, but I think when you get a new box, it says “Do Not Forward” on the outside. Maybe the same goes with the check cards.

I handle the finances in our household. You have got to be SO careful when talking with people online at the institutions. They treat you as though you’re trying to commit fraud until you prove otherwise. It’s a good rule to have all the info in front of you before speaking with them: userID, password, security questions/answers, account numbers, etc.

Though I’d guess that many people who have frequent deposits of varying amounts wouldn’t be able to answer that question. What if the last deposit happened to be monthly interest?

And don’t say ANYTHING that isn’t ABSOLUTELY necessary. Seemingly innocent phrases like: Hold on while I get that. Just a second. Wait a sec. Hang on. Etc.

Those things will arouse suspicion, depending on the institution’s policies, or even the personal quirks of the person you happen to get on the phone. Even if you and your wife call together, it can happen, even when trying to speak about joint accounts!

If they hear a paper rustling in the background, (because the info you need to give is on a piece of paper), it can send them into a defensive posture. If someone else is at home at the time and makes a noise, that’ll make them ask, “Who else is there? Do they have permission to speak in front of that person?”

It can make you feel like you’re being interrogated. Guilty until proven innocent.


#5

HSBC closed my account a few years ago. They send a letter by snail mail, including a check for the whole balance of the account, and started bouncing checks right away. I got the letter a week later. Thanks HSBC! I must not have laundered enough money to make their most favored customer list.


#6

I had an outrageous experience with Chase recently. A friend of mine sent me a QuickPay payment from his Chase account that Chase deemed suspicious. They suspended both mine and his accounts and online access to ALL our Chase accounts, and left me and him voicemails to call them. I did first, and after successfully verifying all my info, and getting from me that the payment was expected, they said that the payment’s been rejected anyway, and even though they were satisfied with verification on my side, they would not unlock my online access or the account until they’re done verifying my friend!! I was furious - how the heck could they prevent me from accessing my money when they don’t have any issues with me or anyone else on my accounts? Speaking to supervisors and threatening to complain to regulators did not have any effect. In the end, while I was still on the phone with them expressing my outrage, my friend talked to them too, and they unlocked my access.


#7

I am still suspended from my Google Play account (unable to make credit card payments or any payments at all) due to…? Not sure. But when I call Google they just say “We are unable to activate your account at this time” and that’s it. No further info. No appeal available.

I have a whopping $0.85 in my Google Play account so I’m not going to get fussed about it. But if it were an honest-to-goodness bank? Yeah.


#8

That’s scary. And outrageous!


#9

Was this an account in her name only?


#10

No, it is a joint checking account.


#11

Ally Bank thought you had moved and your wife was still at the old address? I’ve never held a joint account without living at the same address, so I didn’t consider that angle.

Excuse me if I don’t understand. It sounds like neither of you had adequate access to her online credentials.


#12

No, you’re making it too complicated. Ally keeps separate profiles on each individual even though we are married couple with joint account. We had moved to a new house. I had updated my profile with new address, but she had not updated hers. Ally sent her card to old address, but they do not forward so it was returned. That is all.

My point is that we had no knowledge that our account was ever frozen or that checks had been presented and returned. There was always sufficient funds (by large factor) so there were no bounced check fees. No notice whatsoever.


#13

I had a similar experience with Discover Bank where the bank froze my account before notifying me. I discovered the freeze on my own when my scheduled bill payments weren’t sent out on time and I incurred three late payment fees. I complained and they were willing to reimburse the fees. Discover said it froze my account because it was suspicious of another of my accounts that I had recently linked. I think I received written notification of the freeze a week or two after it occurred.


#14

The irony here, I think, is that if your wife had been able to pick up when Ally called, I don’t think they could have asked her all those questions. That’s confidential information that we’re always warned against giving out unless we initiate the phone call.

I’m not trying to make it complicated or criticize. :slight_smile: They give you the 3rd degree and then some. That’s why it’s critical for the person who handles the finances to be familiar enough with account access info or to know where it’s located before talking with the financial institution. Or wait until the person who does is present.

I hope you can get them to make good on any fines/fees.

We used to be with Ally Bank, but closed our accounts because of redundancy, not any particular problem.


#15

[quote=“olegos, post:6, topic:1807”]
I had an outrageous experience with Chase recently…
[/quote]You may know that lawyers hold their clients’ retainer money in a special escrow account, since it’s not theirs (at least until they rack up enough billable hours). Fun fact - in some states, lawyers are forbidden from using Chase for these bank accounts due to Chase’s not infrequent sketchiness, so much that it’s deemed irresponsible to hold your clients’ money there. There’s a lesson there.


#16

Did you and your wife have separate Ally accounts at some point and then merge them into joint account(s)? So her credentials and your credentials work to access the same account?

That is the case for my wife and I with Bank of America, but not Ally, because my wife never had an Ally account before we got married and made our accounts joint. We only have one set of credentials for Ally but two for BoA.

Thanks for the heads up on this. Makes me want to get rid of my wife’s BoA credentials and only have one set. Unfortunately, that would probably be super difficult since she still has a BoA credit card. If you don’t have anything at Ally that is only in her name, maybe you could try to get rid of her “account” all together to avoid something like this in the future.


#17

The customer is at a disadvantage because there doesn’t seem to be a uniform set of rules among the financial institutions.

When we had joint accounts at Ally Bank, only the first-named person on the account could access bank statements. When I asked why, I was told that “only the primary account holder has that access”. That doesn’t makes sense. Legally, all joint owners have equal access to the funds and the right to transact and view history. I don’t remember doing business with any other bank that had such a policy.

We keep only one set of credentials, when possible. It does make account maintenance simpler.


#18

Since I didn’t see anyone else ask… Your wife didn’t “return the call” using a phone number they left her in the voicemail did she?