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Bank Of America And Amy Alkon:

A White-Hot Hate Story

It wasn't always that way. I think I started banking with them in 1989, almost 20 years ago. I did my part, deposited my money with them, more and more as I started making more and more, and did my best never to bounce a check or do any of those things that make one an undesirable bank customer.

And then, July 1, 2008, they fired me as a customer; apparently, for complaining that they failed in their fiduciary duty to me by giving $12,000 of my money out; apparently, to two women with fake driver's licenses in my name; at least one of these women, a woman with missing front teeth!...and a driver's license with the wrong expiration date. And they did this SEVEN times in one statement period, which suggests that this isn't a fluke, but policy that they don't do the most minimum due diligence to verify that their customer is the person they're giving the customer's money to.

Why would they be like this? They had to give me back my money, which cost them, but since I've read and heard stories like this from other customers, and since Angelica, at my branch told me that she has a customer like me come in to report a similar case every day, it must be cheaper for them to have lax security than to have policy and computer access for tellers for customer information.

Also, I'm a rare bird. I realize that, had they done any sort of verification of the identity of these thieves, I likely wouldn't be in the nightmare I'm now in -- a daily hell and timesuck when I'm on deadline for my book for McGraw-Hill on August 1.

Knowing that, they sent me the latest indignity, the letter firing me as a customer as of the end of July, meaning that, in the final throes of my book deadline I have to start shopping for a new bank, and move every cent of my money, every cent of which I've banked with them for almost 20 years.

Oh, and by the way, the LAPD get hundreds and hundreds of cases like mine a week, and can't pursue many of them. They're aren't even pursuing mine, but cops in the cities where my account is violated are pursuing it -- which is rare. Why? Because I have worked every step of the way to get them to do it.

Nereida Claudius, the VP/customer service woman I've been dealing with from "The Office Of The Chairman" from Bank of America, told me on the phone that their investigators were "working with the police." Really? Actually, no. I called the police, and talked to a detective downtown, who told me the police pursue very few of these cases and gave me advice on how to schmooze the West LA detective who'd have my case in her jurisdiction on taking it. And schmooze I did. And after I did, I asked if Bank of America's investigators had been in touch. No, they hadn't, the detective told me. And I believe they were only in touch with police at all AFTER the cops and detectives in Texas and in California, whom I mailed the affadavit to, in one case, and have been working with (calling Target to get the time and store locations in Texas and Auburn, California, and trying to get tape of the woman who violated me).

Additionally, they have been denying me access to the tape of the women who violated my account, which identity theft expert lawyer Mari Frank says I am entitled to under the law. I will be sending them certified letters demanding these tapes and all other material, in addition to the electronic record for my account, which I hope will show me who had access to my account. A side note: I am protective of my data in a way most people would find crazy, and from my investigation of who has the combination of the information these women have about me -- bank account number, social security number, birthdate, and driver's license -- and the date when this happened (right after I updated my driver's license number at the bank, after I put money in my IRA), it seems very possible to me that this information came out of my branch or somewhere within the bank. I don't know this for sure, and my experience with what I find to be Bank of America's utter contempt for their customers, suggests that they are not exactly going to announce it to the media if this, indeed, did happen.

Here's the story, in blog items, starting May 28, 2008 (for comments, and a sort of timeline of my hell, in some cases, go to the comments on each individual entry -- click on the date above each):

I'm Really A Fat Black Woman With Missing Teeth

AmyBeauborg.jpg

Somebody made up a fake California driver's license in my name and has been siphoning my checking and savings accounts this month.

It was a fat black woman in her mid 40s with missing teeth, I was told -- in the final hours of my deadline, when the Bank of America bank manager from Dixon City, California thought to call me to ask if I'd "noticed fraud on (my) account."

I just got my statement in the mail, and would've looked at it tomorrow, post-deadline, along with paying my bills -- or attempting to -- with money now in the possession of Latasha or whomoever. Instead, this bank manager, AFTER dispensing $1,500 of my money to the thief on Friday, decided, Tuesday, to do a little (long over-)due diligence, and call me.

Did the bank take a look at this woman with only a fake driver's license, not any other identification in my name -- a woman with a big open space where her front teeth are supposed to be, and surely other like details -- and think to check whether she might be a crack whore, and not me?! Nope! Not until she'd siphoned out a good bit of my book advance, with the help of the bank. As in, THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS.

Their response, until today: "Thank you for doing business with us, Madame Crack Whore!"

I'll get the money back -- it's all from this month's statement's checking and savings -- but I find it incredible that I can't get my own money out without giving them my dead grandma's blood type, plus the name of her elementary school...yet some lady with only a fake driver's license, and a serious need for dental attention, can stroll into some bank in Dixon City, California, and another one in Auburn, California, and another in Garland, Texas, and another in a nearby Texas city before that, and withdraw piles of money from my account with a phony license with the wrong birthdate on it! (So the Dixon City bank manager told me.)

The teller looked at the discrepancy, I guess, and thought, "Mmm, interesting!" Or something equally thoughtful. (The DMV says nobody's applied for a new license in my number, but couldn't tell me much else. I have to call their fraud people tomorrow -- I was too busy scurrying over after my deadline to the bank.)

I'm going to get my money back, but I'm furious at the level of stupidity at the bank, which allowed me to be victimized like this. Besides the license dates not matching, the bank manager in Dixon City also told me they couldn't access signature or other information on file at my bank. Well, gee whiz, by no means waste 12 cents on a long distance phone call. Just hand over thousands of dollars!

As for whether you look at a woman going around with teeth missing and wonder, "Gee, I wonder if that's her thousands of dollars she's trying to take out with ONLY a driver's license with an unmatching date," the bank manager said something along the lines of "We don't like to judge people." Well, why the hell not?! I judge people every day. If I see a wiry guy with crazy eyes strutting down my street with a needle hanging out of his arm, I'm going to cross the street. Aren't you? No...surely you wait and see whether he holds you up with a piece of broken bottle, because, hey, you don't want to judge people.

...

How did somebody get my license, when I'm super-super stingy with the number? I don't rent cars, and upon reflection, only the bank, my car insurance company, and the DMV have that number, as far as I can recall. Hmmm...the DMV? From The New York Times in August 3, 1997, "Fake Licenses Tied to Bribes In California":

Investigators say the quest for a counterfeit-proof driver's license has spurred a black market in which state workers issue fraudulent licenses in return for bribes of $200 to $1,000 each.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles fears that at least 25,000 fraudulently issued licenses are on the street. Seventy-nine employees have been dismissed in the last 19 months, and investigators estimate that 250 of the department's 8,000 employees may be involved in the scam.

The California driver's license, held by 20.2 million motorists, is a basic identification document and gives people access to other forms of identification. Licenses are used as proof of identity for everything from welfare applications to bank accounts.

The California card incorporates numerous anti-counterfeit safeguards, including holographic images, coding and layering, to make it all but impossible to duplicate.

But the increased difficulty of counterfeiting licenses means that people unable to obtain them legitimately, including undocumented immigrants and people with revoked licenses, try to buy them by bribing clerks.

''Ironically, as our documents become more tamper-proof, it's become more of a problem,'' said the Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles, Sally Reed.

Ironically? Ironically? You get your bank account turned into an ATM without a password and bask in the irony, Sal.

I also vaguely recall something about my license number -- maybe giving it out to the bank in their paperwork -- when I put money into my IRA in April, but I can't be sure. But, basically, I'm one of THE most careful people about my personal information (don't give out my phone number in public, cover the ATM pad while punching in my numbers, pay for almost everything with one credit card, never using a debit card, etc). How this person got my account number is a mystery to me.

Now, there is this I found on the Internet:

With that fake drivers license, that fraudster becomes YOU. All he need do is write a bad check drawn on another bank's bogus name account set up for that purpose, with the victim (you) as payee. He then walks into (in my case) a Wells Fargo branch and, impersonating the victim, cashes the check. When the check bounces, Wells Fargo (probably others, too) simply debits the victims account.

In my case, the woman at the bank checked and found no bounced checks like this.

Oh, by the way, the woman who helped me file my claim in the bank branch told me she deals with a person with a claim like mine every day. One a day, on average...and the bank is still behaving like they're running a neighborhood lemonade stand?!

This is eating my life. My time, my peace of mind, and while I have a credit freeze, I'm still nervous about other ways this toothless bitch may have used this driver's license.

The bank won't release the video footage of this criminal to me: get this -- "privacy issues." Yes, the woman financially ass-rapes me, and we're worried about her "privacy." But, it's possible I can hire a detective and get it, and Emmanuelle Richard, who's just getting or has just gotten her P.I. license in D.C. is going to be one of my first calls tomorrow.

P.S. I checked out the population of Dixon City, California. 311 "African-Americans." How hard, if this criminal is a resident, do you think it'll be to find one fat, 40-something black lady with missing teeth? I mean, how hard for me, not for the police and bank investigators, who surely don't really care about such cases...or they'd be doing something to prevent them!

The Frozen People
I'm one of the lucky ones. I spent my entire day yesterday calling credit card companies -- credit cards I have and credit cards I closed and credit cards I thought the thief who stole my identity might have applied for.

I was supposed to spend the day writing my column, but I started going through Tuesday's mail and found a letter from Sears saying my credit application had been denied and another like it from Target.

This doesn't make me lucky. The fact that I knew the late Cathy Seipp makes me lucky. I already knew that, of course, and in spades; I just didn't realize it on such a practical level. Cathy was the smartest journalist I know about financial matters. She had disability insurance, for example, to take care of herself and her daughter should anything ever happen to her, and, at one of our writergirl breakfasts, she announced that she'd "frozen" her credit.

California was the first or one of the first of 43 states to pass a law that allows residents to lock up their credit with all three credit bureaus -- also known as putting on a "security freeze." This means, if somebody applies for credit in your name they can't even get into your file.

And that's all that stopped me from experiencing the constant, day-to-day ruin that people go through after they've had their identities stolen, as I found I had last week, after Bank of America let a forty-something fat black woman with missing teeth take out $1500 from my bank account in Dixon City, California, with only a fake driver's license in my name. She or she and other somebodies took $12,000 in total, within the span of a month. (Uh, don't believe the BofA P.R. about how they have "multiple" layers of security: in my sorry experience, they must just ask, "Would you like that in 10s, 20s, or hundreds, Ms. Thief?")

Bank of America let this happen not once, not twice, but SEVEN times, in banks in places I never go (Garland, Texas; Richardson, Texas; Auburn, California, where the thief also tried to get instant credit, and using not only that driver's license, but my social security number and birthdate). Chilling.

I began calling every single entity on my credit report, and a few that weren't. I had a closed account at Macy's, but you can't be too careful. And sure enough, she'd tried to reopen it. This is the one shining moment of intelligence I encountered in a day spent talking to numerous people with all the intelligence of a philodendron. I was told Macy's asked her questions that only I could've answered, and she couldn't answer them, so they denied her access to my former account.

By the way, this all started in April; April 14th, to be exact. Now, I can't know for sure where the security breach was; how this woman got my information, but I will say, I am unlike most people in the way I protect my personal data; for example, applying for those store discount cards in the name, "Mrs. Klaus, Elf's Ass Lane, North Pole," and covering the key pad when I punch in my ATM password, and never using a debit card, and only paying five people in my life with checks, which are extremely risky instruments, since they have your account number right on them. (That and a fake license are all anyone needs to steal your money -- if you bank at a place that has Bank America-style "security.")

Because I'm so tight with my data, and because this woman had my driver's license number, which isn't something I toss around (I believe only the bank, the DMV, and my auto insurer have it), something clicked in my head.

I'd just gone in in early April, maybe around April 9, to put money in my IRA. At that time, per my checking yesterday, they'd asked me to "update" my driver's license info, which I did. I don't know for sure, it's only speculation, but again, because I'm so close-to-the-vest with all my data -- never even shredding bank statements, but keeping years and years of them in locked storage -- I believe that either somebody at BofA or somebody at a company they hire to process data, sold or stole my data.

I'm working on chasing the thief. I believe Target may let me have tape of her, and I'm working on getting tape of her from the bank. The bank had better help me. First of all, I have a shot at finding this woman (if you look at my past history -- I'm two for two, catching George Gomez, who stole my pink Rambler, and Leo Laine, who did a hit and run on my Honda Insight in the Whole Foods parking garage).

And this is important, that I be allowed/helped to catch her, because guess what: I'm not the only person she's financially ass-raping.

In case you're among her victims, or somebody else's, I strongly urge you to get a freeze on your credit. And do what I've done with most of my credit card accounts: made them so they can only be accessed on the phone with a password that I've given them: the kind with a bunch of jumbled letters and numbers that's hard to crack.

Blank Of America
Call it a revenge chat. Live, on the Internet. Me vs. Bank of America.

I was looking for information about how Bank of America protects their customers' checking and savings accounts. They talk about "multiple layers of security" (in a Wired.com piece, for example), and then their tellers ended up giving out $12,000 of my money in seven separate occasions...on at least one occasion, to a black woman with missing teeth with a fake driver's license in my name, with the wrong expiration date.

My blog items on that are here and here. The nightmare continues: This woman, and/or others, has/have been applying for instant store credit on my social security number and in my name: Target twice, Kmart once, and Walmart once. That I know of.

My assistant and I worked late yesterday, so she didn't have time to get the mail, so further surprises may await. Every day is Christmas with these thieves, to borrow/get creative with a Gregg favorite from "Mean Streets."

Three words for anyone reading this: FREEZE YOUR CREDIT. The fact that I had previously frozen mine is the only reason why my life as I know it is not over; why I'm merely getting, "Sorry we couldn't accomodate your request for instant credit" letters in the mail.

The fun does continue. For example, I have to send legal letters to all three credit bureaus to get each credit request from the thief removed from the file (requests can bring down your credit score). And every day, I imagine the other people who aren't so lucky as I was to have Cathy Seipp as a friend (Cathy being the one who told me to freeze my credit, as she did, years ago).

Those unlucky people will be getting bills in the mail, and spending considerable time trying to convince creditors that they didn't buy that plasma screen and the rest, and trying to clear their credit history.

I just got a letter from disgusting BofA refusing me access to the videotape of the perp they gave my money to in their branch in Dixon City, California -- the access I need to be able to go after the fat black woman with missing teeth who not only has my driver's license, but my birthday and social security number.

I need this because I know the police will not pursue this like I will, or not pursue it at all. There's a huge delay in even getting a case started, thanks, in large part, to BofA refusing to give me a letter saying I was a victim of fraud in a timely manner, despite my spending DAYS begging on the phone to employees with all the brains and wherewithal to help me of a philodendron.

I can't know for sure, but because I am so tight with my personal data, and don't give out my driver's license number, and rarely write checks, which I consider risky instruments (because they have your account number printed on them), I speculate that this woman got my data through somebody at B of A.

I think this probably happened after I put money in my IRA in early April, and was asked to update my driver's license info in their system. I think this because of the combination she appeared to have -- not just my driver's license number but my account number -- and also because of when the breach occurred: days after I updated the info for BofA.

Somehow, last night, in my Internet searches for info on what BofA says they do to protect (uh, let's make that "protect") their customers, I ended up on a page offering a live chat with a Bank of America employee, and thought I'd have a little fun.

The transcript follows below...

Chat InformationWelcome to an online chat session at Bank of America. Please hold while we connect you to the next available Bank of America Account Specialist. Your chat may be monitored and recorded for quality purposes. Thank you for your patience.

Chat Information: You are now chatting with Gail . Welcome to Bank of America. How can I help you complete your online checking or savings application today?

You: Hi!

Gail : Hello! Thank you for you interest in opening a new checking and savings account. Do you know which accounts you would like or may I help with a recommendation?

You: I just have a few questions.

You: I'm interested in your checking and savings accounts, but I'm concerned about account security.

Gail : I will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have, if possible.

You: Great.

You: What do you do to protect your accounts so somebody unauthorized can't access them? I know what you do online, because my boyfriend uses your bank. But, I mean in the bank.

Gail : A customer can only access their accounts or make withdrawals with a current valid ID. Sometimes a second ID is requested.

You: When would they ask for a second ID?

Gail : It is normally requested for withdrawals and wire transfers.

You: "Normally"? Meaning, whenever you go to the teller to withdraw cash?

Gail : Yes.

You: So, just to clarify, if I go to the teller to ask for cash, you're going to ask me for a second piece of ID.

Gail : It can be requested.

You: Okay, it CAN be, but might not be. Hmmm, that makes me a little edgy.

You: Is it just not requested if the teller, say, knows the person who's taking the money out? Or are there other instances they might not request it.

Gail : You can request a note to be placed on an account to request an ID be asked for whenever you complete a bank transaction in a banking center, if you wish.

You: You mean a second ID?

Gail : The note can include to show one or two IDs.

You: What do you do to check that an ID is actually valid?

Gail : I do apologize. That question would best be answered by the banking center. I do not have the information that they use to check IDs.

You: Okay...I'll try to stay in your realm of experience. This is great to get live help now.

You: Do you feel secure having your money at Bank of America?

Gail : Yes. My account has been with this bank since 1996. I have never experienced any security issues.

You: So, you probably couldn't imagine Bank of America giving out large sums of cash to a person with fake driver's license in a customer's name.

Gail : Not at all.

You: Probably if it happened once, and the person didn't have a pattern of withdrawing large sums of cash, the person trying to fraudulently withdraw the cash would be stopped, right?

Gail : Most definitely.

You: Well, Gail, BofA gave away $12,000 of my money, and on seven different occasions, and in places I never go, and in huge sums. $1,500 here, $2,500 there. SEVEN different times. By the way, I'm a skinny white girl with red hair, and at least one of those times, they gave it away to a fat black woman with missing teeth.

You: You guys advertise your bank accounts as secure. In fact, a lady who works for you named Betty Riess bragged about it recently in a story on Wired.com.

Gail : One moment please, I will transfer you to my manager for further assistance.

You: I'm trying to get the bank to give me the videotape of the woman, but they won't. So...not only did Bank of America allow me to be victimized, over and over and over again, Bank of America isn't giving me what I need to track this woman down and bring her to justice.

Chat InformationPlease wait while I transfer the chat to Diego who can best assist you with your question.

Chat InformationYou are now chatting with Diego . Welcome to Bank of America. How can I help you complete your online checking or savings application today?

Diego : Hi, I am Gail's manager. I have been reading your chat. In this area, we help with the online application and do not have the full details to help you. I want to make sure you are in contact with our Customer Service Center to completely get your answers.

Diego : May I get that contact information for you ?

You: Perhaps you can tell me what you do to protect against people taking money out of your customers' accounts with a fake driver's license.

You: My name is Amy Alkon.

Diego : We are a help desk for the online application. It sounds like you are requiring more detailed assistance and I want to make sure you get that. Our Customer Service Center is available from 7a-10p and can talk with you one on one to help you with your concerns, Amy.

You: Diego, I've talked to lots of people there.

Diego : Please contact our Customer Service Center at your earliest convenience at 800-432-1000. Pressing zero at the prompt will help you reach us even faster so you may speak about this incident.

You: I'm interested in hearing what you do to figure out whether a person has valid ID or not. If anything.

Diego : I regret we do not have any further information in this area. We help with the submission of the online application.

You: You advertise that you have security.

Diego : Amy, I really am sorry that we don't have the information you are needing tonight.

You: Then please transfer me to somebody who can help me.

Diego : It appears like we may be better able to help you with your concerns in person. We do not have any other chat area. I am very sorry about that.

You: Bank of America allowed me to be financially raped, and is withholding information about who did it.

You: Diego, do you bank at Bank of America?

Diego : Amy, I am very sorry about this. I do not have more information for you.

You: Because BofA gave away $12,000 of my money on seven separate occasions to a woman who was not me, armed with only a fake driver's license in my name and a deposit slip. Do you feel secure banking in a bank with that level of security?

You: I mean, if you're honest, the answer has to be no.

Diego : I really suggest contacting us in person so that matter can be more closely reviewed for you. In this chat area, we help with the online application and we just do not have any access to anything. Please Amy I want you to get your help and regret in this chat area we are very limited in information to give you.

You: Diego, I've contacted numerous people at the bank in person.

You: I want the tape of the woman so I can track her down and have her picked up by the police and prosecuted.

Diego : I am very sorry for the inconvenience. We just don't have any further details for you in this chat area.

You: You sure don't.

Diego : You will need to contact 80-432-1000 or visit a branch. I am very sorry that is the only option availabe.

You: Diego, a word to the wise: Freeze your credit.

You: Oh, I've visited a branch.

Diego : Thank you Amy for visiting our chat area and giving that feedback.

You: Diego, it'll be up on advicegoddess.com tomorrow.

Diego : I regret this inconvenience you have experienced.

You: You "REGRET" it?

You: http://www.advicegoddess.com/goddessblog.html is the precise address.

Diego : Amy, I am trying to apologize that you are in a chat area that does not have the information you are seeking. I really wish more help was available online in this chat area.

Diego : Thank you for providing all that information.

You: Do join us on my blog tomorrow. Please spread the word over there at BofA that the squeaky wheel named Amy Alkon will keep squeaking and squeaking and squeaking, all over the Internet, and on all possible media.

You: I want to protect myself from further fraud, and BofA is preventing me from doing that.

You: Utterly disgusting.

You: How do you people sleep nights, working for BofA?

Diego : Thank you for visiting our chat session.

Last text message receivedDiego: To close this window, please click Close.

You: Advicegoddess.com, Diego!

You: I have to copy it to post on my blog first, but thanks for the suggestion!

Digg this blog item here: http://digg.com/world_news/Blank_of_America

Bank Of America Customer? Bury Your Money In A Mason Jar In The Backyard Instead
Every day, the mail brings a new giftie-poo, thanks to Bank of America. Today, it was a notice that my Kaiser health insurance was in jeopardy because the direct deduction I have from my checking account didn't go through.

For those of you just tuning in, I was forced to close my account in a rush after Bank of America tellers doled out $12,000 of my money in seven separate occasions. SEVEN SEPARATE OCCASIONS! Oh, and did I mention that they gave the money, in at least one, and probably all of these instances, to a large black woman with missing teeth and a fake driver's license in my name? Oh yeah, and with the wrong expiration date!

In between calling the credit bureaus, credit card companies (past and present), department stores with credit cards, the DMV, the post office, the Social Security Administration, companies that had denied this thief instant credit, and dealing with numerous BofA employees who mainly seemed to see their job as preventing me from getting answers or a letter of fraud in a timely manner so I could make a police report...well, gee whiz...it seems it slipped my mind that I'd have to change my Kaiser direct deposit to the new account number.

I'm now being charged a $25 fee by Kaiser, and I have to reapply for direct deposit, worry that my health insurance will be cancelled, and now, get them money this month and maybe next, I'm not sure, by check -- which I'm now too afraid to send through the mail or have handled by anyone who's a stranger. More time eaten, thanks to Bank Of America, who brag through one of their P.R. ladies, Betty Riess, that they have "multiple layers of security," clearly have no such thing.

I am tighter with my personal data than probably anybody but Bruce Schneier (for example, I don't use a debit card, consider checks risky instruments, etc.). Because the fraud started right after I put money in my IRA and was asked to update my driver's license info, I suspect that this information the thief has (birthdate, social security number, driver's license number) came from somebody at BofA, or from somebody who did or does data entry for BofA. Can't be sure, but the combination of information the thief had, including my account number, leads me to believe my suspicion correct.

I asked the employee at BofA who both took my IRA information and closed my account when the morons there finally stumbled on the fraud, to send me the form she had me put the updated driver's license info into. That was last week. Mail here takes a day. I'm getting angrier and angrier. Also, more and more suspicious.

Meanwhile, these arrogant cretins think they're going to deny me the tape of the perp so I can try to find her and have her prosecuted. Sorry, but those of you who read me here can probably imagine that I don't come off as a person who takes no for an answer easily.

I've got a book to write, but I'm going to call the Peggy Noonan of Bank of America on Tuesday -- a woman named Nereida Claudius, VP; Customer Advocate, Office of the Chairman, who has that same "soothe the mental patient voice" as the WSJ columnist/former speechwriter. She's going to have to do better than sound soothing, however, because she sent me a letter, dated June 5, in which she says:

"Although I must respectfully decline your person request for any available photos of the alleged perpetrators, please allow me to assure you that Bank of America will fully cooperate with any investigation you may choose to pursue through law enforcement channels."

What bullshit. Surely, they know the police are too busy and really not interested in pursuing identity theft cases unless they have piles of evidence they can break a ring. (Did I mention that numerous cops and even a detective told me that?)

I made a police report on May 30, and called the cops on June 11, and they hadn't even looked at my case. They are just flooded with cases like mine. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them flying in all the time.

I talked to cop after cop and finally got to the right detective in West L.A., and, on the advice of a detective I'd spoken to downtown, schmoozed her and tried to convince her that my case was different, solvable, to get them to even look into it. I told her all the legwork I'd done, that I thought the data the thief had probably came out of BofA or data entry people they used, and why, and on and on.

Meanwhile, I know the reality, and it's that unless I'm allowed this tape and allowed to pursue the thief, I will continue to be victimized, and so will many people who aren't as...can't believe I'm saying this...lucky as I am, and that's because I had frozen my credit prior to Bank of America allowing me to be financially ass-raped under the pretense that they have some sort of security protecting their account holders.

Oh, and as for their investigators, if they actually find something, do you think they're going to announce it to the public? My neighbors have just had their BofA cards compromised, they were told, and they can't get anyone on the phone who can tell them where, how, or why.

If I don't get action out of them on this tomorrow -- as in, get the tape of the thief released to me -- because I'm so consumed with writing my book, and a bit behind on it thanks to them, I'm calling the network news to see if they might be interested in exposing this. Meanwhile, I'm adding Bank of America to my chapter "The Business of Being Rude."

Here's an ABC News story by Elisabeth Leamy with news of (and comments from) other Bank of America customersvictims:

Not-So-Safe-Deposit Boxes

San Francisco resident Carla Ruff's safe-deposit box was drilled, seized, and turned over to the state of California, marked "owner unknown."
"I was appalled," Ruff said. "I felt violated."

Unknown? Carla's name was right on documents in the box at the Noe Valley Bank of America location. So was her address -- a house about six blocks from the bank. Carla had a checking account at the bank, too -- still does -- and receives regular statements. Plus, she has receipts showing she's the kind of person who paid her box rental fee. And yet, she says nobody ever notified her.

"They are zealously uncovering accounts that are not unclaimed," Ruff said.

To make matters worse, Ruff discovered the loss when she went to her box to retrieve important paperwork she needed because her husband was dying. Those papers had been shredded.

And that's not all. Her great-grandmother's precious natural pearls and other jewelry had been auctioned off. They were sold for just $1,800, even though they were appraised for $82,500.

"These things were things that she gave to me," Ruff said. "I valued them because I loved her."

Bank of America told ABC News it deeply regrets the situation and appreciates the difficulty of what Mrs. Ruff was going through. The bank has reached a settlement with Ruff and continues to update its unclaimed property procedures as laws change.

Here's a comment below that story:

My recently deceased father left over $42,000 in Savings & other accounts at * with my brother named as Trustee. An unauthorized family member with NO legal standing, not named on the account or was not a check signer was able to get Bank of America to empty/raid my deceased fathers accounts. Now I am holding thousands of dollars of my dad's final medical expenses with no funds to pay for them. My dad took pride in paying his bills on time and had a perfect credit record. He stated my times prior to his death that his final expenses were to be paid and them the balance of any monies to be split among children. * took it upon themselves to disperse his money how they saw fit, disregard the names on the account and totally abuse the trust my dad had put in them to safekeep his hard earned money. Now we have to pay thousands in legal fees we don't have to get the money back, seek criminal prosecution against that family member and all because * is a giant in the banking industry and we are just "the little people". In searching for legal aid I found a Class Action Lawsuit against * filed in October 2004 for the very same thing they did to us. What can we do to stop this from happening to others...Their arrogance is amazing. They are so big and have endless resources they can cheat and steal from anyone not paying attention or violate all forms of trust. Can someone help us?

I tried to find the guy, but no luck.

Let's see how intelligent they are at Bank of America. Place your bets: Who thinks they'll be blockheaded enough to keep stonewalling me, and who thinks that will actually get me to sit down, cross my legs, and shut up?

Bank America Is Firing Me As A Customer
I got the FedEx telling me they're terminating me as a customer when I picked up the mail on Wednesday.

I guess I complained too much about how they neglected their fiduciary duty to me when their tellers gave out $12,000 of my money to at least two ladies with a fake driver's license in my name, and with the wrong expiration date. And on SEVEN different occasions!

So, now, less than a month away from the deadline for my book, in addition to the daily nightmares I deal with thanks to BofA's ridiculously lax "security," I have a new BofA-created chore...finding and moving all my accounts to another bank before July 31.

That's when they dump me and my checking, savings, CDs, IRAs, and the contents of my safe deposit box on the street...or whatever they do to customers who get repeatedly robbed and don't just keep quiet after being given a new account number, an apology, and a headpat.

My neighbor suggests a credit union: SAG-AFTRA's, since I'm a member. Problem: they're all the way across town, and I need to access my bank branch in a hurry sometimes.

I thought of First Federal of California, because they (eventually) let Gary Musselman open an account there, in the Main Street/Santa Monica branch, and ended up being quite nice to him. And they're a community bank and they seem to get good reviews from their customers. But, then, it seems they don't really support Mac for online banking. (You have to use Explorer 5.5 or up. Microsoft stopped doing Explorer for Mac. I have 5.2, and went on Microsoft's site and found only up to 4.5.)

Anybody got any experience with WaMu? I'm looking for an institution that doesn't seem to have contempt for the people who bank with them...and might even treat them the way the old manager, John Angello, at my branch of Bank of America used to treat me: Like I was a valued customer.

Sooo...anybody got any suggestions. Bank suggestions or any other suggestions?

And not to worry..BofA isn't going to get away with this -- well, not in my case, anyway. (Every day, I hear new stories about people with similar or other BofA nightmares originating in a kind of contempt for the customer and for sensible business practices that I've experienced.)

They've now eaten a substantial part of my time and my general peace of mind, when, if they'd applied the "multiple layers of security" they brag to the press that they have, the perp with the ID in my name would likely have been caught the first time she tried to financially ass-rape me, and that fake license she used to apply for instant credit at Target and Walmart and Kmart might now be in a police evidence locker somewhere.

Oh, and if you haven't done it already -- take it from me: Freeze your credit bureau accounts.

And, finally, if you know anybody who works for Bank of America, do me a favor, will ya? Ask them how they sleep nights.

July 7, 2008:

Bank Of America's Contempt For The Customer
Meant to post this tomorrow, and without my home phone number, which I've since removed. It's an e-mail I sent to Nereida.Claudius@bankofamerica.com, in the wake of their tellers giving out $12,000 of my money, in seven separate occasions, to at least two women with a fake driver's license in my name, and the wrong expiration date.

Apparently because I didn't just walk away with a head pat and a change of account, they've sent me a letter telling me they're firing me as a customer as of the end of August. This causes me even further hardship than they are already causing me daily, through failing to have even the most basic security measures in place.

My e-mail from this morning follows:

Subject: I need your fax number to send you the Kaiser letter

Please e-mail your fax number to me so I can send you the letter with the $25 charge from Kaiser. After all your bank has put me through, and now firing me as a customer because I complained (correctly) that you failed in your most basic fiduciary duty to me, I suggest you not suck up any more time of mine than you already have.

Furthermore, when you told me in the past that your investigators were "working with" the police, you probably didn't think I would check with the police to see whether that was the case. It wasn't. I called the detective in West LA in charge of whether anything even gets done with cases, and she told me nobody had even opened my case file and your investigators had not even called.

The only reason any cops are pursuing this is because I got advice on how to schmooze the detective in being interested in taking my case by pointing out that it was atypical, seemed solvable, and that I had done a great deal of legwork, and was willing to do a great deal more.

I am shocked that, instead of using my complaints as an impetus to institute protections for your customers, the bank instead treats me like a nuisance to be dispensed with. Did you notice me wailing and complaining BEFORE your bank let me be violated, seven times, when your tellers dispensed $12,000 of my money to women with a fake driver's license in my name and the wrong expiration date? I'm not a bad person or a bad customer. I'm a wronged person and wronged customer.

My book is due at McGraw-Hill August 1, and you know that, since I've mentioned this to you numerous times. For me to switch banks right now is a great hardship. I need to have my checking and savings maintained with you through September end so I won't have my Kaiser account with another black mark on it for the direct deposit not going through. (I had to reapply for that - another time suck.) I'm spending hours and hours a week cleaning up after your bank's failure to protect me. Pretty much every day, I spend an hour or more on this. My life doesn't belong to Bank of America, but I've become a hostage to your bank's unbelievable negligence.

And let me again point out, had your bank done the most minimum due diligence the first time a woman came in with only a fake driver's license in my name, and verified that she was not me (by having computer systems for this in place, as well as policy), it's likely that the woman would have been taken into custody, I would've been notified, and the fake driver's license in my name would be in a police evidence locker somewhere. Instead, it was used multiple times to apply for instant credit in my name in stores like Target and Wal-Mart. I now have to clear that from my credit reports, because each credit application brings down my credit score.

About your bank's computer systems, my boyfriend went to a Bank of America in Detroit today, and found that they aren't on your computers. The Dixon City manager also told me she couldn't access my information on the computer (signature, etc.). I'm guessing this isn't something your customers know, that Bank of America in Detroit probably can't look to verify my signature in the computer. Is that what happened in Texas, too? Is it just cheaper for your bank to not have systems for verification in place, and just pay out money to victims and hope they go quietly, with a pat on the head and a change of account number?

Furthermore, I've e-mailed Robert Melofsky -- I need to know whether the woman also had my PIN number. This is giving me a great deal of worry. You owe me this information. I suggest you get it to me, because it's yet another worry I'm up nights about.

Furthermore, I've had a long talk with Mari Frank, THE identity theft expert, and I'll be sending you a certified letter she's drawn up, per the Fair Credit law, I believe, to get all the information (including video) I've been requesting from your bank from the start so I could track down these thieves who are putting me in jeopardy of being charged with a crime and in numerous other arenas. I will be requesting electronic records of who accessed my account within Bank of America, every deposit slip and other piece of information, and video of the perps, among other things.

Your bank allowed me to be victimized in THE most substantial way. I suggest you look up the term "Fiduciary Duty," because you had and have one to me, and dumping me as a customer was not the appropriate response for your failures to guard my money and data.

I don't understand how you and other Bank of America employees can feel good about working for a company that behaves as this one does. I have been a customer of your bank for nearly 20 years, and followed through on my obligations, and this is how you repay me?

I await your reply. -Amy Alkon

The story continues -- B of A, Page Two...click here.