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Bank Of America Freezes Legal Immigrant's Account

nysister

Well-Known Member
This will start happening to everyone soon. Trying to find out how many generations American someone is.

https://www.dallasnews.com/business...mmigrant-phd-candidate-studied-us-seven-years

Saeed Moshfegh woke up earlier this month to discover the strangest thing: Though he had plenty of money in his Bank of America account, he couldn't access it.

An Iranian getting his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Miami in Florida, Moshfegh used the account for everyday transactions. All he had to do to maintain the account was show proof of legal residency every six months.

"I think it's onerous, but I'd been doing it," said Moshfegh, who has lived in the U.S. for the last seven years. He recently married an American.

That Thursday, Moshfegh went to his local branch near South Miami. He was told that the documentation he had provided could not be accepted. Bank officials insisted he produce a different form, according to Moshfegh. The bank was wrong, he maintains, because the form he had supplied was the correct one based on his current status as a student nearing graduation.

"This bank doesn't know how the immigration system works, so they didn't accept my document," said Moshfegh, 36.

Locked out of his account, Moshfegh couldn't pay his rent, which was due that week. Credit card payments were suddenly rejected.

His case isn't unique. In recent months, Bank of America has been accused of freezing or threatening to freeze customers' accounts after asking about their legal status in the U.S.

Bank of America is the second largest financial institution in Texas in assets and deposits, according to the Texas Department of Banking.

In July, The Washington Post reported that multiple customers had been locked out of their accounts after Bank of America questioned whether the account holders were U.S. citizens or dual citizens. Kansas-born Josh Collins received an unusual-looking letter purportedly from the bank asking about his citizenship status, The Post reported. He said he thought the mailer was spam and ignored it — only to have his account frozen a few weeks later.

After Collins' story was first reported locally, he and his wife received messages from others who had been locked out of their accounts for weeks, the Post reported.

Tennessee native David Lewis says he received the same suspicious-looking letter as Collins. In an interview with the Miami Herald, Lewis said he has maintained an account with Bank of America for about 30 years. In the letter, the bank inquired about his citizenship, income and Social Security number.

When he called Bank of America, he was told his account would be frozen if he did not fill out the forms. That phone conversation led him to cancel his account, he said. "One would think a national bank would be careful about looking stupid after Wells Fargo," he said, referring to Wells' having been accused of creating millions of unauthorized accounts.

Proof of citizenship is not required to open a bank account in the U.S., according to Stephanie Collins, a spokesperson for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the federal agency that supervises branch banking. Banks are merely required to identify and report suspicious transactions and maintain and update customer information, she said. Banks have not received any new instructions to collect more information about customers.

In response to an inquiries from the Miami Herald, Bank of America spokeswoman Carla Molina said she could not comment on specific cases. But she said there had been no change in how Bank of America collects information from customers, including citizenship, in at least a decade. The bank attempts to contact customers before the change the status of their bank accounts, she said.

"There's nothing new," Molina said.

Paulina Gonzalez, executive director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, said she disagrees.

"We work with consumer groups and financial counselors in immigrant communities across [California] and the country," she said in an email. "This is new. We have Bank of America customers who we've spoken to who have never been asked this before last year. If they have this asked of them before they can show us proof."

In recent months, her group has received several complaints about being asked for proof of citizenship; almost all have come from Bank of America customers, she said. An article in American Banker magazine also highlighted Bank of America as the one institution specifically facing backlash for its policies.

Spokespeople for Wells Fargo and Citibank both said they may ask about customers' citizenship to maintain compliance with know-your-customer and anti-money laundering rules. They said no new policies asking for citizenship status have been put in place.

Molina, the Bank of America spokesperson, said the new customer complaints may simply be a response to heightened sensitivities to the debate over immigration in the U.S.

But Gonzalez said the bank's scrutiny has created a chilling effect in immigrant communities already feeling pressure from the Trump administration's crackdown on foreign-born residents.

"Fear is gripping these communities," Gonzalez said. "It's like walking into a grocery store to buy milk and being asked for your citizenship at checkout — banking is one of the core aspects of daily life in this country. To be faced with this question in order to do banking seems as un-American as you can get."

Gonzalez's coalition has now launched a petition, "Tell Bank of America: Stand with immigrants," that accuses the bank of abetting the Trump administration's crackdown on immigrants, and calls on the bank to to "protect immigrants' civil rights and stop collecting information about the citizenship status of its customers." The petition has received more than 61,000 signatures since Aug. 29.

Dan Hernandez, a Broward County native of Cuban heritage now working as a TV writer in Los Angeles, said he had his business account suspended by Bank of America in December 2016. When he asked why, he was told he was under suspicion of doing business with Cuba. His corporation was called Cuban Missile Inc. — "Cuban Missile" has been his nickname since childhood.

"I started screaming that this was racist," he said. "Like, did you go through every company that had 'Jewish bagels' in its name, or how about calling someone with 'Korean BBQ' to see if they're doing business with Kim Jong Un?"

He eventually Tweeted at the bank's social media account — and had his situation resolved within 45 minutes. He says he feels lucky that he was able to leverage that platform and his status to get a relatively quick fix, because he is certain others do not have the ability to do so.

"It was extremely scary," Hernandez, 34, said. "I knew I didn't do anything wrong, but it puts doubt in your mind. A bank can crush your life for arbitrary reasons and never tell you why."

For Moshfegh, the Miami physics student, it was not until he'd had conversations with multiple Bank of America officials that he was able to persuade them to let him withdraw all his funds; Bank of America would not let him keep the account.

"It's not the business of Bank of America to shut down someone's account," he said. "Immigration officers are different from Bank of America — with a bank, I would like to feel respect [and be treated] how they treat other customers. But they treat me as an alien."
 

nysister

Well-Known Member
That's different. When I worked for BOA years ago they were all about that immigrant cash. There were special programs for undocumented folks and everything. Why the change now?

That's quite the turn around. I just think it's odd that they're so vested in who has an account there. We repercussions do they feel they will face that no other bank seems particularly concerned about?
 

MACGlossChick

Well-Known Member
I work in a financial institution. Some of this sounds like they were audited by the FDIC or their internal auditors and some accounts were flagged for not having the necessary customer information causing them to have to look over everything. Older accounts (before the patriot act) typically had little information recorded.

As a financial institution becomes more profitable and assets increase, regulators require more record keeping. I'm going through this right now and it's a pain. My day is filled with logs and reports.

Sometimes products/promotions aren't used as intended. Retail employees and customers will find a way to get around the rules (especially if the product is incentive based) and one person tells another... slippery slope... auditors come in... product cancelled.
 

lavaflow99

In search of the next vacation
Wow this is scary. Makes no sense.....don't banks want to have your money?? The auditing explanation provided by @MACGlossChick is the only thing that makes some semblance of sense.

Let me explore other checking options just in case. I have had BOA since a teen and ain't about having my account frozen. Maybe it's a good thing that my BOA mortgage just transferred to another mortgage company this month. :yep:
 

awhyley

Well-Known Member
That's quite the turn around. I just think it's odd that they're so vested in who has an account there. We repercussions do they feel they will face that no other bank seems particularly concerned about?

Yet, that no other bank seems concerned about yet. I can understand the queries for illegal immigrants but legal ones too?
This is getting crazy. I have to see whether it makes sense to keep my lil coins at BoA.
 

nysister

Well-Known Member
Wow this is scary. Makes no sense.....don't banks want to have your money?? The auditing explanation provided by @MACGlossChick is the only thing that makes some semblance of sense.

Let me explore other checking options just in case. I have had BOA since a teen and ain't about having my account frozen. Maybe it's a good thing that my BOA mortgage just transferred to another mortgage company this month. :yep:

Credit Unions can be a good option too. I have checking accounts with both. Redundancies make me happy. LOL
 

MzRhonda

Well-Known Member
That's different. When I worked for BOA years ago they were all about that immigrant cash. There were special programs for undocumented folks and everything. Why the change now?
That's quite the turn around. I just think it's odd that they're so vested in who has an account there. We repercussions do they feel they will face that no other bank seems particularly concerned about?
Trump probably has somehow, without us knowing, threatened the banks or BOA in particular with something...he is a school yard bully.
 

nysister

Well-Known Member
Trump probably has somehow, without us knowing, threatened the banks or BOA in particular with something...he is a school yard bully.

It really does make you wonder. Waiting to see which bank is next. Like @awhyley said they’re not concerned “yet”...

Curious as to how far this will go. Asking any citizen? What happens if you don’t produce the ID they deem acceptable?
 

HappilyLiberal

Well-Known Member
Yet, that no other bank seems concerned about yet. I can understand the queries for illegal immigrants but legal ones too?
This is getting crazy. I have to see whether it makes sense to keep my lil coins at BoA.

BOA has given 50-11 reasons not to bank with them in the last 10 years alone. Why anyone on this board still has money there is a complete mystery to me!
 

lavaflow99

In search of the next vacation
BOA has given 50-11 reasons not to bank with them in the last 10 years alone. Why anyone on this board still has money there is a complete mystery to me!

I know nothing bad about BOA (until this). Tell me more or direct me to where I can learn more.
 

BrownEyez22

Well-Known Member
I'm a BOA customer since my teens, but I also have a credit union. I liked BOA since they have ATM partnerships with Barclays in London and BNP Paris..... they always have something in the cities when I travel. Need to research someone with similar support.

But I keep enough in my credit union in case of foolishness, which I would do with any major American bank regardless.
 

Crackers Phinn

Either A Blessing Or A Lesson.
My concern with using a credit union or a non-chain bank is ATMs. I refuse to pay ATM fees. I will drive around or plan my trip to find a BOA ATM (which isn't too hard since they are all over).
I have an embarrassing amount of credit union accounts all over the country. All of them are part of the co-op network which means I can usually use the atm at the nearest credit union or 7-11. Some will reimburse for up to 5 out of network atm transactions.
 

Crackers Phinn

Either A Blessing Or A Lesson.
BOA has given 50-11 reasons not to bank with them in the last 10 years alone. Why anyone on this board still has money there is a complete mystery to me!
BOA is high up on my poop list with Karen’s potato salad and a pimp named Tariq.

My first checking account was with BOA when I was in college. All I remember is long lines and them putting holds on my work study checks.
 

lavaflow99

In search of the next vacation
BOA is high up on my poop list with Karen’s potato salad and a pimp named Tariq.
My first checking account was with BOA when I was in college. All I remember is long lines and them putting holds on my work study checks.

:eek: . That bad? :lachen:

I never had a bad experience with them. Then again, I haven't had a need to step inside of one in 8 years when I had to get a cashiers check to close on my house in 2010. I use online and ATMs exclusively....which is something that is a must I change banks.
 

intellectualuva

Well-Known Member
That's different. When I worked for BOA years ago they were all about that immigrant cash. There were special programs for undocumented folks and everything. Why the change now?

They want to keep the cash. And honestly just because they are the only ones doesn't mean that other banks won't catch on if they figure out a way to legally keep all or some of the money (its profitable in some way).

This going to be just like the bag fees. One airline started it and the rest followed shortly.


I'm a BOA customer since my teens, but I also have a credit union. I liked BOA since they have ATM partnerships with Barclays in London and BNP Paris..... they always have something in the cities when I travel. Need to research someone with similar support.

But I keep enough in my credit union in case of foolishness, which I would do with any major American bank regardless.

Same. I've never had a single issue with them, but they have horrible PR. Lol.

I really want to leave, but I do so much international travel and I am trying to get international customers it makes sense to deal with banks (personal and business) that have more of an international presence. Fact is most other US banks can't compete in that regard. I do have my credit union though and maybe I'll stop in and see if they can handle my small business needs though according to their site....their more expensive options can do what I get for free with BOA. Also every article talks about BOA really having a great all around banking solutions for small businesses that I just don't see with credit unions or even Chase, Citi, etc. Ive been looking and I have a little spreadsheet of features and benefits to compare. Lol.

Wells Fargo has been on my trash list, so I refuse to even consider them as they are as bad as BOA if not worse. I am open to all others..even Capital One spark.
 

itsallaboutattitude

Cancer Support in Health
Screaming. UGGGGHHHHHH.

Been with BofA since they bought Nations Bank or whomever it was I was with when I first opened an account when I came Stateside.

Let me recommit to opening a black owned bank account.

ETA: I actually work in the BofA building. So... UGGGHHHHH.
 

awhyley

Well-Known Member
They want to keep the cash. And honestly just because they are the only ones doesn't mean that other banks won't catch on if they figure out a way to legally keep all or some of the money (its profitable in some way).

I would advise against it because it'll take some time, but when this illegal/legal immigrant hullabaloo is over, those customers who they would have driven to the credit union will not be coming back to support them. People will not forget this.
 

MzRhonda

Well-Known Member
I would advise against it because it'll take some time, but when this illegal/legal immigrant hullabaloo is over, those customers who they would have driven to the credit union will not be coming back to support them. People will not forget this.
Exactly, and there community is kinda tight nit and not fickle like some others *cough*
 

aminata

Well-Known Member
Bumping... Bofa inquiring about dual citizenship. Are they asking everyone this question? Wondering how legal this is, confsequences of not providing this information. This is not a new account.
 

intellectualuva

Well-Known Member
Bumping... Bofa inquiring about dual citizenship. Are they asking everyone this question? Wondering how legal this is, confsequences of not providing this information. This is not a new account.

I would change banks stat, not to risk your money. As long as BOA is the only ones pulling this trick, then I wouldnt bank with them...though you being citizen, dual or otherwise, shouldn't be an issue.
 

nysister

Well-Known Member
Bumping... Bofa inquiring about dual citizenship. Are they asking everyone this question? Wondering how legal this is, confsequences of not providing this information. This is not a new account.

Whoa...that's uncomfortable. I agree with @intellectualuva I'd switch banks with haste, unless this is a new policy rolled out across the board.
 

Reinventing21

Spreading my wings
This is not new. Happened more than once to people I know who have had dual citizenship...for the past 25 years...who are European... I don't know what to think.

BoA just likes to freeze stuff? :confused:
 
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