Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Stan Greene
Observer Staff Writer 

USAA Bank Customers Denied Access to Funds When They're Put "Under Review"

If you're referred to the "Fraud Department", be prepared to kiss your money goodbye

 

Consumers have very few choices when it comes to checking accounts.

We don't have a lot of choice with consumer checking accounts, the pariah of banking. Banks regard checking accounts as loss leaders, so they can peddle mortgages to a customer base. A banker told me that years ago. But today, I'm under the impression that the rate at which banks seize their own customers' accounts because of "fraud," is astounding. It's illegal, but no one does anything about it.

That's probably because consumers have so few banking choices. In California, 80% of consumer checking accounts are at just 4 banks: Wells Fargo Bank, Bank of America, Citibank, and U.S. Bank. The other 20% use a handful of regional banks, or bank online. Failing that, you can join the 20% of the population that is "unbanked," which means you're relegated to check cashing places.

One major online bank is USAA. It has no branches, and members make deposits through the Mobile USAA Application. Only, don't make too many of them, or the bank may seize your money. It happened to me.

"Excessive Mobile Deposits" said a chipper gal named Jennifer, on my third call to the bank after my money was frozen. On a Sunday. With no warning. So let me get this straight: I deposited too much money, so you froze it? Jennifer could offer me little more than a few nervous giggles.

It's 2016, so naturally I went online to see if anyone else had USAA suddenly seize their available funds when they wanted to leave town, buy food, etc. What I found shocked me. One woman couldn't PAY FOR HER OWN MOTHER'S FUNERAL because of USAA's practice, which they no doubt justify as "Fraud Prevention."

Here's a sample:

KATAL 8 days ago, USAA put my checking account "under review" and I haven't been able to take any money out since then. My posted balance is "unavailable". They didn't even tell me. I logged in to see my balance and had to call. They haven't told me anything; the "back office" is doing the review and no one can communicate with them. I was told they would have information after 3 business days but it's been over a week with nothing. This is completely insane. I've already opened new checking and savings accounts at another bank. I just want you to give me my money back so I can close my accounts and go elsewhere.

Cynthia at USAA Service replied to KatATL:

We realize the seriousness of this matter. Protecting the security of our member's information is our top priority. Please contact one of our bank representatives at 1-210-531-(USAA) 8722 to discuss your options further.

Amber from Facebook, December 23, 2014: USAA has to be the worst financial institution I have ever encountered . They have decided in some warped way the money in mine and my families accounts are theirs.

Putting our accounts under " review" because they didn't " think" certain deposits would clear. Come to find out after contacting the issuing bank USAA had received the money 2 weeks ago. Then it was our job to get proof THEY received the money!

Did I mention they locked all of our accounts down right before Christmas. Therefore my family has no money ...nothing to shop for our kids for Christmas. Oh !

And we have another account with money in it set back to pay for our recently deceased mothers funeral and headstone. They locked that one too...to research this has been going on since the first part of December with no answers. I urge you to find another financial institution for your money.

I will as soon as they release mine but day after day all that they say is they are researching it in the " back office" where you can't speak to anyone and they refuse to give you any answers regarding your own money. I have never encounter so called professionals that are willing to screw their own customers over

Has USAA or any other bank, suddenly denied you access to your own funds?

USAA Amber, we're truly sorry to hear about your situation and would like to see how we can help. If you can, please email [email protected] with your member number and situation. Once we receive your email, we'll work with the appropriate team to see what options are available for you. Thanks – Mike

Amber: Mike I appreciate the fast response. Funny however I have called and dealt with multiple people in each department and get nowhere I don't believe ur "social media" email will help much either. I do believe that your bank and how it treats customers should be made public and believe it is news worthy considering you treat people who give their lives for our country with this level of disrespect

Has USAA ever put your account under review? Has another bank seized your hard earned money with no warning and no recourse? Tell me about it by leaving a comment on this page, on Facebook or Twitter. Enough is enough!

 
 

Reader Comments
(3)

Void64 writes:

Yup, happened to me this week! They locked all my accounts up for fraud review and has denied me access to my almost $50,000 in savings!!! I have been in touch with the AG of my state who is intereated in hearing my case. I will also be talking with a lawyer about my options to sue them for much more than they think they are going to rob from me. i am also considering talking with the FBI to see if there is criminal wrong doing here since they are breaking the law in a huge way. Criminals!

JLR writes:

Yes, going through the same thing right now; it's been a few days. Very disappointed with USAA; they advised that their investigation has been completed but yet, we won't have access to our accounts for days...no one asked if we had alternatives to rely on either...shame on USAA!!

SCC writes:

My account is frozen right now because of this very reason....it's under review in the fraud department. I tried calling USAA yesterday and was hung up on. I called again and was told that there's a systems problem and to call back in an hour. I called today to be told that there's a wait time of over an hour! This is my primary account and funds are direct deposited into my USAA account that I can't pay bills with. I can't log in, either! No access to anything! Is there anything I can do?

 
 
 

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