Bank of America Customer Service Rep Opened a New Credit Card Account Without My Consent

Here’s a lovely rant. Last week I called Bank of America to activate an updated credit card (i.e. new expiration date). You know, the call you have to make before you peel the sticker off?

Over the past few years, it’s become increasing clear that banks only want to use this opportunity to up-sell to their customer. As annoying as it is, I’m somewhat fine with the process and have just learned to say “no thanks” and move on.

This time though, the rep at Bank of America was able to convince me of the up-sell. But he made some changes against my wishes, which in my opinion, borderline on fraud. Here’s how it went down.

As I was waiting for the activation of my new BOA American Express card, the representative asked me what I did for a living. He acted genuinely interested. We talked for a solid 5 minutes about what I do. In hindsight, I know he was just flattering me and building up rapport.

He then asked me if I wanted to earn 3-2-1 percent cash rewards on my spending vs the 1% I was currently earning. I said “no thank you” and that I didn’t want to change anything. I never use the card and was only activating the new one since we were making out first trip to Costco, who only takes American Express. He persisted and said nothing would change except that on my first X amount of spending I would earn 3-2-1 percent cash rewards.

I was suspicious so I let him talk more and he read a few disclosures about the offer. I then asked him if a new account would be created. He said “no”. I then asked him if a new line of credit would be opened and if my credit would be checked. He said “no”. Finally, I asked him if I would get a new card. He said “no”. After all of these no’s, I said okay, hook me up with the new rewards on my existing Bank of America American Express card for the first $500 in spending.

Guess what I go in the mail this Christmas Eve?

You got it. A new Bank Americard Cash Rewards credit card showing a new account and a new $500 line of credit. I also got and a letter stating that my credit had been checked so I was entitled to a free credit report.

You might be wondering what’s so bad about a new card and a credit check. Well, the new card with a $500 line of credit means my credit utilization ratio took a hit. Also, the credit check means I took an immediate 5 point hit on my credit score. We’re planning on borrowing money for a new home in the Spring. Changes to my credit score could cost me thousands in future interest payments. Ultimately what’s wrong with this scenario is that someone did something to my finances knowing that I didn’t want it or ask for it.

I hate it when things like this happen. I hate using this blog as a complaint board too. But I have to share this with you guys in hopes that it might change things at BOA and so that you can be more aware when making your own banking decisions.

I know what happened here. The rep is paid a commission or bonus for every new account/card that he opens. He was willing to lie to me to just get me to agree to the disclosures and get his bonus. Plain and simple, that’s what happened.

My questions for Bank of America:

  • Is this how you want your reps doing business for you?
  • Shouldn’t you have controls in place to prevent this?

When I received the card in the mail, I immediately called Bank of America customer service. When I finally got to a human, the response to my calm, well-mannered complaint was disappointing: 1. She told me I was at fault. 2. She effectively hung up on me by telling me she was transferring me to someone (you know, that special someone who conveniently isn’t there).

I’m calling back today to close the account and to get the credit transferred back to the American Express card. Once we get our home loan in the Spring I’m going to just close down all of my Bank of America cards. We’ve already stopped doing checking there because of the new conveniences of online checking and me moving my business checking to Chase. Not to mention the previous Bank of America checking account fraud I dealt with. I’m ready to be completely done with them. I’m tired of complaining.

Update: I reported this to the credit department and they are removing the credit request from my credit report. They also closed the account. Finally, I was able to talk to the fraud department and make a report. They are supposed to be calling me back in a few days. I’ll update this post when that happens.

Seems I’m not the only one who’s encountered this situation:



Last Edited: July 21, 2014 @ 10:41 pm The content of ptmoney.com is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Visitors to ptmoney.com should not act upon the content or information without first seeking appropriate professional advice. In accordance with the latest FTC guidelines, we declare that we have a financial relationship with every company mentioned on this site.
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, financial writer, FinCon CEO, and husband and father of three. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.

Comments

  1. I think BoA days are numbered. It’s kind of like the handwriting on the wall lately. They need to make some serious customer service changes or they will continue messing over their customers, who in turn leave. Sorry you had to deal with all this. 🙁

  2. BOA sucks to put it lightly. I wrote a story about my experience with them. http://www.jaicatalano.com/bank-of-america-keeps-shtting-on-me.html

  3. DebtChronicles says:

    I had a similar experience with BoA years ago. But my experience went even a step further. When I called to complain, they asked if I wanted to close my old account – without hesitation I said “YES!” A few weeks later I got a new set of cards in the mail, and found what they actually had done was combine the two accounts together leaving me with an account with a limit of $32,000. What do you think happened over the next couple of years? Well…..as you know I’m out here in the blogosphere talking about personal finance and my journey out of a crap ton of credit card debt…… I’m not blaming them for my debt – I rang up the charges – but did a 25 year old (at the time) – or anyone for that matter – really need a credit card with a limit like that??

    • Philip Taylor says:

      @DebtChronicles Wow. I didn’t realize that’s how it all started for you. Crazy that they can just up and send you a card. I don’t care for that style of banking. I’d rather be the one in control.

  4. It’s 12/28/2011, and imho, it sounds like you did say “yes to the new card offerings.” So, you authorized the new card (even with the CSR saying no’s to your questions; but they read you the disclosures and about the card.) Plus, IMHO, the media exaggerates that opening up a credit card will be detrimental to ones’ credit score. I opened up an airline credit card 4 months prior to getting a mortgage approved. I had excellent credit score; the new credit card lowered my score by 20 points. It did not effect my scoring to get lowest rates at banks for shopping rates and final closing. Frankly, I think the 3-2-1% BankAmericard is much better than their traditional Accelerated Rewards’ Amex 1% card. But, how the CSR handled your complaint is unprofessional and needs retraining. I’m glad you called again and requested BOA Fraud department to get your complaint resolved. (In the future, I heard you can ask for the CSR’s id, badge, or medallion number for your own records and possibly to report bad CSRs.) Honestly, if i were you, I would keep both accounts; especially if the original Amex credit card is “older” card. Lesson: say NO, no thanks. Good bye. hang up (if you do not want the new card). Would you consider BoA if they offered the lowest home rates when you start shopping??

    • Philip Taylor says:

      Thanks for your comment, Ian. Your are entitled to your opinion and so am I. What you’re saying in laughable. I didn’t want a card and clearly stated that. That should be enough.

      I was tricked. I’m not some drone who’s just going to have my finances dictated to me. I demand that things be done with my consent.

      Exaggerates?! No way. In my opinion, the media, FICO, and the credit industry don’t do near enough to explain to consumers what’s going on with their credit and how it’s affecting their lives. Nor do they allow consumers the proper level of control.

      You realize there is a massive following of people (Dave Ramsey folks) built up around the idea that it’s just not worth it to fool with this industry? They have opted out. I’m one of those who chooses to stay in and can somewhat handle myself responsibly. All I ask is that the banks be honest with me. Once their employees start doing stuff behind my back then I get pretty pissed.

      Here’s the lesson: banks should not have their employees try to trick consumers into opening new lines without their consent. Banks should take immediate action to terminate employees who attempt this.

    • Philip Taylor says:

      Thanks for your comment, Ian. Your are entitled to your opinion and so am I. What you’re saying in laughable. I didn’t want a card and clearly stated that. That should be enough.

      I was tricked. I’m not some drone who’s just going to have my finances dictated to me. I demand that things be done with my consent.

      Exaggerates?! No way. In my opinion, the media, FICO, and the credit industry don’t do near enough to explain to consumers what’s going on with their credit and how it’s affecting their lives. Nor do they allow consumers the proper level of control.

      You realize there is a massive following of people (Dave Ramsey folks) built up around the idea that it’s just not worth it to fool with this industry? They have opted out. I’m one of those who chooses to stay in and can somewhat handle myself responsibly. All I ask is that the banks be honest with me. Once their employees start doing stuff behind my back then I get pretty pissed.

      Here’s the lesson: banks should not have their employees try to trick consumers into opening new lines without their consent. Banks should take immediate action to terminate employees who attempt this.

  5. Philip Taylor says:

    I received a call from an asst VP today about the issue and she assured me my credit report would be made as if nothing ever happened. She also promised to take action on the employee, but that I wouldn’t be privy to it. I guess I understand that. She stated that she was sorry that this happened to me and that it wasn’t in BOAs playbook to try to trick people with these upsells. I think part of the problem is that at some point a company just gets too big to properly manage itself. Or their execs don’t invest enough in customer service. Big member banks like USAA don’t have to hand over all those profits, they can reinvest in good service.

  6. Another credit related matter to consider is the impact of having a $500 credit line, especially for mortgage shoppers. Many mortgage lenders have underwriting rules that discount tradelines under $2,500. In other words, it does you no good to have a small credit card reporting because the mortgage lender will dismiss it and only consider unsecured tradelines of $2,500 or more. In addition, I agree with the earlier post regarding the impact of closing a seasoned tradeline. If yo are concerned about the couple of credit score points a hard credit inquiry will cost you (there is no steadfast rule that it is 5 points – the formula reacts differently based on your overall credit profile), then you ought to be very concerned about the negative effects on your credit score of closing a well-aged tradeline. Credit is all about patterns of behavior. The behavior of swiping each month and then paying on time, in full, (even if it is just one tank of gas per month) is the holy grail of driving your credit score to the upper echelon. Keeping unused credit cards keeps you out of debt but is worthless toward positively impacting your credit score. Happy New Year everyone!

    • Philip Taylor says:

      @DailyDollar I agree with all of this. I mentioned utilization above, and I didn’t close any accounts except the new one that had been opened. But they are also removing any trace of it from my credit file. It will soon be as if nothing happened, which is how it should be. I agree that using credit properly (behavior) will help your score. But there are things like age and credit mix that also affect your score. And the public isn’t educated on that. Nor do they have much control over it (i.e. they don’t want a car loan or mortgage). We pay our card off in full each month. Happy New Year to you as well.

  7. Wow, that’s really messed up.

    I have a B of A account and can’t tell you how many times I have suspected that something was ‘fishy’ with their setup.

    Just like you, I’ve decided that I’ll be moving to a credit union and ditching B of A.

    This was eye opening. I’m going to write a post up on it and refer back to your story if you don’t mind. I’ll also get this out on the social side as well.

    Thanks again.

    James

    • Philip Taylor says:

      @James The Debt Free Guy I look forward to reading your post, James. Feel free to reference my posts at anytime.

  8. I recently (today) resigned from BOA card services. The business practices at BOA are horrendous. What this rep did was what they call a cross-sell. He took a portion of your available credit and applied it to another card, with promotional rewards program. He did lie to you, and there is a very lengthy disclosure that he should have read to you. I just wanted to correct you on one point. The rep did not do this to get a bonus. He did it because if he does not make his daily sales goal, he can face corrective action. Very rarely, no matter how much you sell, will you actually get a “bonus” or a commission on sales.  You would also have to have low average call time (how long you are on the phone with each customer, quicker calls equal more productivity) and near perfect attendance to receive any incentives or bonuses. To answer your second question above, yes, BOA does want their reps to do this. If you are eligible (have decent credit and are not past due) for any type of sale and the rep doesn’t offer it, they will “fail” the call for quality for not trying to deepen the relationship. You can get the 123 cash rewards on your AMEX by having a rep process a PCU CSI for you. All your acct info remains the same (same credit line, APR, history is intact) but you will get a new card with a new acct # on it in about 2 weeks. This is not a credit inquiry.  A rep will not tell you that this can be done unless you specifically ask for it, or if you are not eligible for cross-sell. Recently, vendor call sites have had the daily sales goal removed, however the rep is still responsible for offering solutions (selling) on the call quality scores.