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While on vacation last week, I attempted to use my Bank of America VISA and it was rejected. Since I hadn't made many purchases, I decided to call BOA. A few days before, some hacker (or some hacker's system) has opened a new checking account in my name but with a Connecticut address. (I've lived in St. Louis forever and this anommoly in itself did not stop the train. A couple days later, an attempt was made to transfer my lines of credit (nontrivial sums) to this checking account and that transfer was thwarted. Bottom line is all our banking is with BOA, I use billpay to pay bills, I have direct debits of certain insurances and mortgage, and certain direct deposits, and of course, multiple BOA credit cards. I spent 5 hours at BOA (in Naples, FL) closing accounts and opening new ones. I will likely spend appreciable time over the next couple months totally unravelling the mess. Worst part is that it is unlikely I will ever know how the gates were compromised. While I lost no money, I suffered loss of time and aggravation. All this sad story told, this is not quite the same as living (or dying) with ALS, it's not the Tsunami or Katrina, the Hindenburg, or Chicago Fire.

I tell this story for those who do on-line banking with BOA, though it likely applies to other major banks as well. I presume for marketing reasons, BOA allows users to open on-line checking accounts. You cannot elect out of this option. Therefore, besides practicing safety (don't store passwords on your hard drive even though this is convenient), check your banking positions regularly. This is particularly an issue for someone who is an infrequent on-line user to whom my advice would be, don't take the risk at all and close down your on-line banking.

BOA has been wonderful in assisting with the recovery from the identity compromise but I nonetheless blame them 100% for affording the opportunity for this to have happened.

The material provided and the opinions expressed in this post are for general informational purposes only and should not be used or relied upon as the basis for any action or inaction. You should obtain appropriate tax, legal, or other professional advice.

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One of my co-workers got a call from BOA last week inquiring about unusual credit card activity. They live in the Kansas City area and the activity was in Illinois. Makes one wonder if it's a BOA system problem, at least in the Midwest. I do most of my banking there, but not online. So far no problems.

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Guest Sieve

Same with me. For the first time ever, my wife's debit card had unauthorized activity (in NC--we live in MI), and we do not use online banking. But, we do use BOA--they took over our bank of 20+ years about a year ago, and now the problems start!

I'm not paranoid, but . . . this obviously is a conspiracy against ERISA-proficient BOA users! I need to switch to antitrust litigation (or resume my career as a goalie--which might be difficult, since I've been dead almost 40 years).

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Well my story is long, but I'll try to be brief.

Many many years ago I had a Sunoco Visa Card - I didn't know it at the time but it was underwritten by BofA.

They contacted me about purchases in Canada as being unusual, but didn't notice 6 straight days of max cash advances in California (I live in NJ).

The story I was told, is that somebody called in with my info and convinced Sunoco/BofA that they were me - had new cards issued (that I never got of course) and changed the security info.

Then whomever had my personal info and I had many years of bank accounts, credit cards and cell phone accounts being opened with my SSN. I Filed multiple police reports. None of it cost me any $, but it was a pain in the . . . . to keep fixing! The locks I would put on my credit reports would expire.

Finally, the credit report companies made available a permanent lock, so after I did that, it has stopped happening. But now it's a pain if I legitimately want to establish a new account or credit card or take a loan since when the store or whomever checks my credit, it comes back blocked.

I swore that I would never use BofA because of this, but then my bank was sold to BofA - so now my checking and savings are with them. It's been many years now since that, and I never bothered to change banks (too lazy) - but I haven't had any further trouble either.

Not really sure that it's just BofA though.

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While such stories are sad, and BOA and others may have "security holes", ultimately the blame must lie with those who steal.

I'm a retirement actuary. Nothing about my comments is intended or should be construed as investment, tax, legal or accounting advice. Occasionally, but not all the time, it might be reasonable to interpret my comments as actuarial or consulting advice.

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Not really sure that it's just BofA though.

No doubt the grass is brown next door. BOA does a lot right.

There is a scary but humorous peripheral story: The BOA people told me that they would be sending out three new credit cards. I asked them for security purposes to overnight to the BOA facility in Naples near where we were staying. They said they couldn't (i.e., wouldn't do that). I said OK and for them to send to the security guard at the gate of the highrise condo where we were staying. The next morning I alerted the security guard to expect a Fed Ex delivery. That afternoon I went downstairs to go to the gate whereupon I found in the lobby sitting on a table by the front door 3 Fed Ex envelopes addressed to me. (Why not one?) The three replacement cards did not require activation!!!! The aggregate limit on the 3 cards is significant. And I might add that it was the fraud department who orchestrated sending out the replacement cards. So, as best as I can see, BOA does a great job of inviting disaster.

As we go through life we continually balance risk v reward. So long as the liability is BOA's, I'll continue to opt for convenience.

The material provided and the opinions expressed in this post are for general informational purposes only and should not be used or relied upon as the basis for any action or inaction. You should obtain appropriate tax, legal, or other professional advice.

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Guest bobolink

In my experience, different banks have different thresholds for identity theft risk. Chase called me when they noticed my credit card was used to try to purchase air fare for two from London to Rio (I live in Chicago). Stopped it all in a matter of minutes.

A different question: I have always had one credit card, a checking account, and a couple of savings accounts (short term and long term). Why would one have more than one credit card? What am I missing?

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I have always had one credit card, a checking account, and a couple of savings accounts (short term and long term). Why would one have more than one credit card? What am I missing?

One card for personal, one card for personal on-line, one card for business. These are my reasons as a person who (except for BOA) embraces unbundling. I also have separate carriers for internet, cable, cell phone, etc. A bit more complicated but then it is unlikely you would ever loose all services at one time. In the case one credit card is lost (and I'm out of town at the time), I can always use another.

The material provided and the opinions expressed in this post are for general informational purposes only and should not be used or relied upon as the basis for any action or inaction. You should obtain appropriate tax, legal, or other professional advice.

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In my experience, different banks have different thresholds for identity theft risk. Chase called me when they noticed my credit card was used to try to purchase air fare for two from London to Rio (I live in Chicago). Stopped it all in a matter of minutes.

A different question: I have always had one credit card, a checking account, and a couple of savings accounts (short term and long term). Why would one have more than one credit card? What am I missing?

I no longer recall the issuing bank, but I had a nearly opposite situation about 15 years ago. I purchased 4 airline tickets for a trip to South America (including Rio) using the card. When I used the card at an ATM there, the fraud folks called my house to verify it. Of course, since I was in South America, they didn't reach me. So they shut down the card. Apparently the purchase of the tickets and lack of answer on my home phone for two weeks did not register to them as me actually being the person using the card there....

I cancelled the card when I got home.

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My response to bobolink: I have two credit cards. One to use on a regular basis, and another in case the first one blows up for some reason. The way that I use them, a failure is most likely going to be a physical failure from overuse.

And second one is also used to buy presents for the wife, who pays all the other bills.

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I don't know where I learned this, but I now call my credit card companies in advance when leaving the country and let them know the days that we will be gone and what countries we will be in. This does two things: 1) it allows them the confidence not to cancel the card when they see transactions from my destinations and, 2) it allows them the confidence to shut down a card almost immediately when they see a transaction from another country and I have not indicated I will be there.

I have a slew of cards as my wife is an unabashed rewards chaser. After we have enough miles on one card to get us where we want to go, she opens another and we start building miles there. We have cards that pay dividends and cards that further the greening of our planet, I think. I have lost track years ago and now when I get to the pump or the grocery store or.... I call her on her cell phone and ask which card I'm supposed to be using this week.

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Guest Benefits Broker CO

I too make that phone call before I plan a trip out of the country. A few years ago I discovered that the call is also needed when I travel out of state! I live in Colorado and went to Kansas (the very next state over!) for the weekend. Imagine my surprise when my credit card was rejected at a gas station in Kansas. And yes, when I got home, there was a call from the credit card company on my answering machine! I now use my cell phone number!

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Guest Rider

BOA is horrible at security.

Try this. Go in to any branch (well, I was surprised at first, and then tried 3 in total) and let them know that you want to be added to a checking account as an authorized person.

All you need is an account number.

They don't ask for any authorization from an exisiting account holder!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Yesterday someone on a computer in South Korea opened 2 new accounts in my name and began transferring money from my real account. Fortunately Bank of America's fraud people caught it almost immediately and shut it down. Unfortunately my legitimate checks and ACH transfers are now bouncing.

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