Possible Fraudulent Switch to Bank of America’s Advantage Checking Account

I’ve been a BOA member since 2004. I signed up for their MyAccess Checking account and whatever savings account went along with that. I didn’t have much money at the time, so I wasn’t concerned about what type of account it was as long as it was FREE! MyAccess Checking is free, as long as you direct deposit (it’s now free as long as you sign up online). Everything about this account I’ve loved: the web GUI, the free bill pay, the convenience of ATMs. It’s been a good relationship you could say.

About 2 months ago I received a $20 Advantage fee in my checking account. Then, a month later, a second $20 Advantage fee. Sadly, it took this second charge to force me into action. I did some research on this Advantage fee and it seems it applies to people with an Advantage checking account, who keep average balances less than $5000. I thought, “I don’t have that type of account do I?” and “since when would I keep that high of an average balance to never have received this type of fee?” (I keep my savings in ING) At this point I knew one of two things must have happened: I was either moved to this new account type OR that MyAccess account type “became” the Advantage account type.

After further research into my old statements and the BOA website, I discovered that I was simply switched from the MyAccess checking to the Advantage checking (ironically, the only “advantage” was me paying $40 over two months). My next step was to contact BOA to:

(1) get the charges removed,

(2) get me switched back over to the MyAccess checking, and

(3) find out why this switch was made.

Numbers 1 and 2 have happened successfully. I’m still waiting on an answer for number 3. Since customer service never answered my emails on this issue, I’ve enlisted a friend (who just happens to be a BOA manager) to research the transaction and find out why I was moved. I suspect it’s fraudulent (or unethical at least), as these type of account upgrades usually come with a nice commission for the bank employee to makes the change. In my case, it was done without my permission.

Tired of dealing with banks that don’t care? Check out my list of the best online checking account.

Has anyone else had this happen? How was it resolved?



Last Edited: January 15, 2013 @ 5:43 pm
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a husband and father of two. 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 would like to contact the person that wrote on boa advantage account to respond.

  2. Hi Ann. That would be me PT. Please use the contact page or look for my email address on the about page. Thanks.

  3. Thanks for posting this.. I just checked my account online and what do you know? They switched mo to the same account and charged me 2wice the $20. This is a class action law suit waiting to happen.

  4. tina houston says:

    We need to educate BOA what the authorization is.
    It seems to me that they don’t know how to do a business
    20B to bailout this BOA ?. It looks like the bailout is a waste.

  5. They did this to me too with my business checking account. Switched me without any authorization and I end up paying $30 maintenance fee since I didn’t meet the $15,000 average daily balance requirement. Complete BS!

  6. Betsy Gordon says:

    This has occured with me and BOA as well. However, I only signed up for two accounts and somebody inside of BOA either switched or opened an Advantage account without my permission. I have ordered all statements from opening date (at a fee) to determine when this occured. Here’s the nasty part…since I do not use any of my BOA accounts (ever), only for incoming direct wires for my business I did not catch this until yesterday when I received a letter from a collection agency demanding $205.21 or they were going to turn me into the credit bureau’s. I paid the 205.21, to avert this going onto my credit report. I will be contacting an executive at BOA corporate to resolve this issue. I will keep you all posted with BOA names and contact numbers as they are located. And update you on my progress as well. Feel free to share your positive results with me as well. Write me on this forum for your request and let’s be in direct contact with one another to resolve this issue.

  7. I just found out they did this to me as well. My balance was just shy of the $5K in that BofA account. I rarely use it, so I haven’t been checking it. They don’t mail me statements. They are refusing a refund past 90 days.

  8. Betsy Gordon says:

    I’m writing a letter to the below BOA Executives…if you are interested in doing the same, see below info collected from public records on their website.

    To: Mr. Lewis – CEO & President, BOA Corp.
    J.Steele Alphine – Chief Administrative Officer, BOA Corp.
    Amy Woods Brinkley – Global Risk Executive, BOA Corp.
    Anne Finucane – Chief Marketing Officer, BOA Corp.
    Dr. Walter Massey – Chairman, BOD, BOA Corp.
    Liam E. McGee – President, Consumer & Small Business Bank, BOA Corp.

  9. Thanks for sharing, Betsy.

  10. Alistair says:

    This also happened to me. $15 / month maintenance fee started appearing out of the blue. I have been a basic, free checking customer for nearly four years, had never had a fee.

    I called customer service and they said I now needed an automatic direct deposit to waive the fee. (There was no mention on the phone my account had been ‘upgraded’. Nor did I receive any postal or email about this.)

    I set up the direct deposit, waited a month and still received another $15 fee!

    I just now got off the phone with them… After several minutes of discussion, they admitted my account had been changed to an Advantage Account. They would only refund one months fee’s, even though I have five months worth on there. (Wish I had called sooner…)

    Just show me where to sign up for the class action lawsuit! (They also opened a World Perks credit card without my permission last year, so am I really upset now)

    I am closing my account as soon as I get a new one set up elsewhere. No more business for BOA from me.

  11. Deborah Aldridge says:

    BOA charged me an overdraft fee, which I admit was my fault, then didn’t post it for 3 days. When the posted overdraft fee caused ANOTHER overdraft, they charged me again! I called, they were unforgiving, and refused to remove the fees. I was forced to leave my money in their bank due to some work I was having done on my house. I am going to remove it very soon, and just deal in cash from now on. Every bank I’ve been with for the last 5 years has screwed me with unfair fees. It’s not enough that they got all our tax money, now they want our real money as well!

  12. Hey everyone, I’ve made some progress with this issue. I found a BOA representative on Twitter. His name is David and he’s at http://twitter.com/BofA_help

    He’s having my issue researched. If you have a similar issue, I suggest you contact him on twitter.

  13. I just found the $20 monthly advantage charge on my checking account. I looked back and it has been applied each of the last three months. I have had this account for years with no monthly fees. I have more money in BOA now than ever. I have never authorized any kind of account change.

  14. BOA offered several excuses when confronted about the switch from “free to fee” scam. Their #1 excuse: “You do have a fee based account, and always have.” False BOA
    Their #2 excuse: “We sent you a letter.” Prove it BOA.
    Their #3 excuse: “I don’t know what happened, I can only refund charges for 3 months.” Thanks a lot BOA.

    I have closed my accounts and tell everybody I know about my personal experience with BOA. Thank you BOA for making my life more difficult, and for sending threatening debt collectors, and for ripping me off! Thank you very much.

  15. Apparently, BOA is still conducting themselves this way. I found out that I have been charged $20 for the past 4 months. Bank would only refund two transactions. I will not leave them alone about it. I am so pissed. I don’t have time in my life to watch my own bank to make sure they’re not stealing from me! Just as an FYI, I have 4 accounts with them, a mortgage, two checking accounts, and a savings account. In addition, I both my husband and I have direct deposit for the last umpteen years!

    Lori posted 2/15/2010

  16. And to add addtional info….I closed by BOA accounts and had a credit card with them that was in my company’s name. They switched my credit card into my personal name and now it shows up on my personal credit. They are so out of line! I payed it off and am done with BOA. If anybody knows how to get a class action law suit started, executed, and completed in our favor…I’m IN!

  17. Thanks for sharing, Betsy. I’d try contacting BOA reps using http://twitter.com/BofA_help. They are fast to respond via twitter.

  18. Philip Taylor says:

    I just received an email from a reader on this issue. Can you help?

    “I have been a customer of Bank of America since 2004. I have done all my banking on line and I’m not one to evaluate my statement every month (shame on me). As such, I didn’t realize that for 6 years, BOA has been charging me $25 every month for the “Advantage Account” and I have not qualified for it nor did I ever agree to switch to it at any time. I have since had it changed back to a “My Access Account” and BOA refunded me back a token amount of $100.

    It’s my contention that BOA should be responsible for sending out a letter to their customers recommending to them that they should consider a different type of account due to not qualifying for the Advantage Account and they could avoid the additional charge. Surly if I deposited 1 million dollars into my account at BOA, they would be sure to approach me with additional products and services. The same should be true if you do not (or no longer for a stated period of time) qualify for this account.

    I am contacting you see if you are aware of any class action lawsuits concerning this matter. Otherwise, I’m considering taking action on my own by finding an attorney that may be interested in taking this matter on.”

  19. This happened to me too. Some months ago I needed to make a large cash withdrawal, so I downgraded from Advantage to Access checking. Couple months went by with no problem, then last week a surprise “Advantage Monthly Maintenance Fee” of $25 showed up on my checking account. Online chat guy looked into it, “dissolved” my Advantage relationship account (whatever that means), and credited the fee back.  That’s great and all but it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. I can understand watching your account for fraudulent transactions, but watching for fraudulent transactions by your own bank? That’s just messed up.

  20. Happened to me – They said it was done in error and I should have never been charged and they refunded it. Funny how they discovered the error months ago and stopped charging the fee but didn’t refund it until i noticed. Liars . . .

  21. Yet another email from a reader on this issue:
    “Bank of America did the exact same thing to me. When I was working I got a free account with no minimum balance: while I kept a fairly high balance for normal checking account (over $10,000), I knew there would be times between contract jobs when I wouldn’t have any income at all. The “no minimum balance” provision was important to me. 
    The hard times lasted longer than I planned, and when my balance dwindled to under $100, Bank of America switched my account without my knowledge and stealthily started charging a fee. When I called to complain that the account was supposed to have no minimum balance, BofA said they had restructured their account types (apparently simply relabeling them so the fee-free accounts no longer exist). 
    They said all I could do to avoid the monthly fee is switch my account type to ebanking: i.e., sacrifice a lot of the services I had formally been entitled to. I did not want the hassle of moving my accounts – especially my ebanking – to a new place, so I agreed. Today I got a letter that says as of next month ebanking will be charging a fee!!! 
    It’s a good thing I opened the letter that looked like yet another junk credit card offer. This makes me furious. It seems Bank of America customers have to always be vigilant for maneuvers to sneak fees in. Ebanking was supposed to be the remedy for the previous (fraudulent?) account type switch. 
    Now here they go again. What also makes me mad is that when I was thriving, Bank of America happily benefited from keeping my high balances in a low interest account. Yet when I am down on my luck, they broke the promise they had used to obtain that high balance account. My money could have been working for a more HONORABLE and ETHICAL bank all that time. 
    If you do find out that the BofA account-switching is a form of fraud, and there is a class action lawsuit involved, please let me know.” ~ Lisa

  22. I’m not sure how many people still come to see this, but thanks to this thread I decided to contact BOA also because of the 25 Advantage Monthly Maintenance Fee on my personal account opened since 2004 and didn’t have a charge until March of 2013. So I contact them firs representative offers 3 credits I asked him to escalate it to his manager, manager explains to me something about account was previously linked to my mortgage which is why I was not charge before (False, since I did not always have my mortgage with BOA and before had no fees) and after my refinance in March of 2013 my mortgage was no longer linked which is why I was charge the 25 monthly fee. So in turn what the manager told me was simply that if your account is linked to your mortgage your monthly fees are waived so from today on the accounts are linked I will not be charged (cool, I guess) but now to my past fees, after 20 minutes on the phone she comes back telling me I’m sorry for the mistake on our part for not having relinked the accounts after your refinance and as a valued customer (all that good stuff blah blah blah) she credits me 275 in other words the past 11 month fees. Not bad for about 30 minutes of being on the phone or half my Friday lunch oh well. FYI I originally had a My Access checking account which was changed to Advance sometime without me or my wife authorizing it or even notified. Once again thanks to this thread and the contribution of others that gave me that extra push to make the call (dumb of me for not doing it earlier) hope it helps someone somehow

    Juan

  23. WilliamHardy says:

    Watch your statements!
    They have been charging a $25 Advantage monthly maintenance fee since
    September of 2013. When I inquired at the bank I was told when they
    updated the system it failed to link my checking account with the
    mortgage and hence the maintenance fee. Strange how their glitches seem
    to work in their favor. They now owe us $175 in maintenance fees.
    It’s no surprise to me. When Wells Fargo (formerly Wakovia bank)
    did the same thing to me I bought it to their attention. They said the
    $25 fee was because I did not keep my balance up to the required limit. I
    pointed out from their same rule book that as long as i had a CD with
    them of $10,000 they could not do that. They then admitted to their
    mistake. I got my refund and promptly closed my account. I don’t even
    remember an apology from them.
    Point is no matter WHICH BANK you have WATCH YOUR STATEMENTS.
    Don’t be deceived by their pleasant manners and their music wafting
    through the building from their 50″ TV screens telling you how great it
    is banking with them while you wait, lounging on their comfy chairs.

  24. I too have been charged the $25 fee- as far back as January 2012. I just got off the phone with a BOA rep then transferred to a manager. They admitted the charge was initiated by an error on their part but the best they could offer me was credit for 2 months. I told them I’d take it up with my local branch. Any suggestions for my next course of action?
    How does one initiate a class action lawsuit? I could just argue for my own back credit but it is apparent BOA bilked many with this mistake.

  25. WilliamHardy says:

    SAGREEN I prevailed with my local branch and received the full 5 months of what they owed me. I
    had to make at least three trips before I was refunded the money. I did not have to speak to the manager. I was polite but persistent all the while. They owe you a lot more money. I would insist on not taking no for an answer as long as they tell you they are working on it, and keep coming back to show your persistence. When they say no way to get the full amount I would take other steps. Bottom line is that it is your money and they are plainly swindling you and others. Would taking them to small claims court or go to your local news channel be good options? I would check into both of those options first before mentioning it down to them. Above all remain calm as I heard they are quick to call the police on people who create disturbances.

  26. SAGREEN says:

    WilliamHardy SAGREEN  
    Thanks William. I will follow your advice.
    SA