Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Chase Bank (2014) and the Patriot Act

My wife and I bank with Chase, but not on purpose. We opened accounts at Bank One years ago, and now Bank One is gone and Chase is the bank.

I'm not a big fan of Chase Bank, but we stay with them because of the people at the Chase branch in town. We really like the people at our local Chase bank.

Yesterday, February 25, 2014, we each got letters from Chase. From my wife, they wanted to know her occupation. They wanted to know if I'm an American citizen.

Before I saw the letters, my wife called Chase to inquire about why they needed the information. Both requests seemed a little odd. The explanation she received was that they needed to know the answers because of the Patriot Act--which, as you might recall, was passed in October of 2001.

This is not the first time we've had trouble with Chase. I got ticked off at Chase a few years ago when I received a phone call from someone claiming to be with Chase. They wanted to "verify" my account and asked me to give them the number from the back of my debit card. I refused to give them the three digit number. I said, "You called me. You tell me the security code, and I'll tell you whether you're right or not." The called hung up on me.

The next day, I went to my local branch and asked about the phone call. They told me they had received a memo from the corporate office warning of the scam. Then I went online and found a statement from Chase indicating it's awareness of the scam. I was angry. At no time did they seek to warn me, the consumer, of the scam that endangered my financial security.

So it was with great skepticism and a bit of anger that I greeted their question of my citizenship.

But I trust the people at our branch, so that's where I went today.

I was told that the request for information is indeed because of the Patriot Act. Apparently, Chase is out of compliance because they do not have that information on file for everyone. They're scrambling to get the information, probably to avoid paying hefty fines for non-compliance.

I have no sympathy for it. First of all, there is the total slop of ignoring or not complying with a law over a decade old. Secondly, because they were sloppy and have continued to be sloppy with that same law for thirteen years, it makes me wonder what else they've been sloppy about. I want my bank to have credibility, and this shoots a hole in their corporate credibility.

The people I talked to at the branch were honest and open with me. One reminded me that she asked me for my driver's license a couple of weeks ago and said this was why. She was a little frustrated because she updated my records two weeks before Chase sent me the letter. That made her wonder if her efforts have been in vain.

Bad form, Chase Bank. Bad form.

She asked if she could update the record with my citizenship. I said, "Of course."

Then I told her that Chase wants to know my wife's occupation. I said, "She's a teacher, but you didn't hear it from me."

She asked, "Do you want me to update her record?"

I smiled. "No. Let's see what Chase does to find out. I like you guys, and I want to keep banking here, but if Chase pisses me off again...I'll bring you flowers and cookies when we close our account and move to a bank that has it's act together."