The Investment Scientist

Your Bank May Lose All Your Money

Posted on: May 3, 2019

bank.jpgMy father-in-law traveled to Taiwan for a few months. When he came back, he went to Bank of America where he maintains a money market account and a checking account to get some money. To his shock, his money market balance which was over $100k before he left was wiped clean, there was not a single dime left.

It turns out someone had forged his signature in order to create an Electronic Fund Transfer. The forgery is pretty lousy; it does not look like my father-in-law’s signature at all. But that didn’t matter, BOA set up the EFT and proceeded to transfer out all the money, down to the last dime.

He got absolutely no notifications when this was taking place .

You would think that BOA would take responsibility for their oversight. They won’t. They claim that since my father-in-law failed to report the fraudulent transactions within 60 days of their occurrence, they are not responsible for them. Never mind that he was out of the country while his account was being plundered.

This is mind-blowing on several levels. On top of the fact that apparently, BOA doesn’t bother to match the signatures, it’s quite apparent that this is an inside job since whoever did it knew the exact balance, so he or she could empty the account down to the last dime. Despite this, BOA has no problem washing its hands of the problem taking absolutely no responsibility.

There are a few lessons here. First, BOA is not a trustworthy bank. If you bank with them, you should take your money out now. Second, whichever other banks you bank with, don’t assume they are safe. You and you alone are responsible for the safety of your money.

One thing you can do and should do right away is to set up alert notifications. Most banks and credit cards nowadays will send an SMS alert to your cell phone when a transaction is above a certain threshold, but they won’t do it unless you opt in. Go to your bank and credit card websites and opt in right away.

You can thank me later.

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Michael Zhuang is principal of MZ Capital, a fee-only independent advisory firm based in Washington, DC.


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