so, some of you may be wanting more info on the compass bank story and i will give you the full details here now. unfortunately, this will no doubt be the longest post i have ever blogged and a shame it has to be about check fraud but these types of things aren’t always so simple to explain. i’d like to at least show you a picture or two but my main computer is STILL in the shop, actually BACK in the shop for the third time, and i have not been able to upload photos to this computer and that’s an entirely different story which is not worth getting into. i think the photos and video are the best part of blogs and who really wants to read more stuff?…. but i will tell this story and then i promise to return to photos and video soon.
so, someone stole checks from our mailbox, which is out by the street. they copied our checks, and sent 6 people in the bank to cash bad checks totaling over $9000. the first 5 checks were for $1356 (all the same amount and all cashed in compass banks around town, 2 in our home bank!) and the last one was for just over $2356. we downloaded bank info friday and things were fine, then on the saturday download we caught it. it all happened in one day. well, the checks were made out to different women, and some of the checks had driver license numbers and fingerprints on them. we got a call from the fraud department and they asked us a lot of questions and when we asked if it would be covered they “didn’t know, but needed to do their investigation.” well, we had a police report and we tried to follow up with the detective but not much response there… so we waited. after a couple weeks they gave us a letter that said we were too high of a risk and gave us 10 calendar days to find a new bank. everything they ever did was business days until they got rid of us and then all of a sudden calendar days was the deal. anyway, they said they would cover the fraud and put the money back into our account. a couple days later they “changed their mind” and took the money back out. we kept trying to reach the detective and when we finally did he said he had not done anything on the case yet, run the ID’s or prints… when we tried to call the compass legal department they would not return our calls.
we had of course stopped putting checks in the mailbox once we realized checks were getting stolen. we have also gotten a PO box so bank statements don’t get stolen. we put ALL employees on direct deposit to reduce our check exposure and even have been trying to get all vendors on direct deposit payments… in other words, we bent over backwards trying to make sure this wouldn’t happen again. the bank, who has insurance for this type of thing, who cashed all these checks for the same amount in the same day without realizing anything was amiss? they decided to stick us with the cost. of course, we had just ordered new checks and deposit slips for our new account with them and that was over $200 and we had been working overtime to deal with all the hassles involved with closing an account (the one we had to freeze…) and starting a new one….
so, now you want to know why they chose not to cover the fraud…. well, years ago, when i realized that we had 3 or 4 vendors coming in a day all wanting COD, and that i could not be there for every vendor that came in to sign and write every check, we asked at the bank, what do we do?
i can’t sign every check… they said to make a stamp of the signature.
i remember going to get the stamp made of my signature and thinking how weird it was that we could stamp a check, and that my signature was now a stamp… well, somewhere in their 30 page disclosure agreement is a paragraph which says if we use a facsimile signature then they are not responsible for any fraud. even though the person copying the checks could have just as easily made a copy of the real signature as the stamp, they’ve got an out. basically, if you don’t sign every check, all bets are off. also they used the language: “… Compass Bank … has a fiduciary duty to its shareholders to make sound decisions and not concede liability in matters where the bank’s position is protected by existing law.” in another spot they claim to “exercised ordinary care” in cashing the checks. well, of course i don’t think they exercised ordinary care and and i don’t think they made a sound decision in denying us the coverage, but when an attorney looks at the legaleze they see that “we don’t have a case.” even if those checks were signed in pen, just the fact that we own a stamp would cause them not to cover the fraud and even if we never got the stamp, there is enough jargon in their legal docs to pick any number of reasons to decide to not cover it. the truth is, they could have covered it but they chose not to. we have been with them for 7 years.
here’s a blurb i got from one contact of mine about it:
Holy shit, that’s awful! Sorry to hear that. Compass is getting killed right now, a good part of their business is in Hispanic countries with lots of bad loans so BBVA is hurting there….this is why they aren’t cutting any strings right now. They are being very tight.
here’s another quote from a friend of a friend:
> i was so shocked i called my bank about this (Florida Capital)
> i am happy to tell you what the manager said
> They had NEVER heard of a bank not covering bad checks (thefts like
> this) – apparently it’s standard operating procedure to cover the checks
> then turn the whole thing over to the police
it’s just $9000. it’s not the end of the world. we’re still in business and going to get through this. but i think it’s worth telling as many people as possible that their money may not be safe at this failing bank. this is yet another reason to move your money to a local bank.
my mom is so mad. she wants to picket out there. i just don’t think i have it in me to organize a protest. it’s just a fight we won’t win so it turns into getting upset and angry over the greed of the big banks. a roach cannot be anything but a roach. all my jumping up and down and clinching my fists won’t turn it into a butterfly.
anyway, that’s the whole story. i was asking the attorney about our rights and didn’t want to be bashing the bank while we were also pursuing the possibility of getting our money back. he realized right away that we can’t fight compass bank and i’ve just been busy at my family reunion and visiting with my sister’s family who is visiting from colorado. if i spend all my energy trying to fight the bank and if i was able to get them to give me the money back, i would still lose because i would have wasted tons of time that i could have spent playing games with my nephew and niece or my own kids. live and learn. spread the word.
because in the end, at satchel’s, i think we all feel that it was the bank who stole from us in the end, more so than even the one stealing our mail and copying checks. because you think your money is safe and that banks have procedures in place to catch criminals and insurance to cover fraud. and we found out that they really needed our money for their shareholders and we can go fly a kite for all they care.
sorry, as i really do not like to use the blog as a place to complain and rant. i want to use the blog as a place to share great photos and stories and video. i’d like to have it be a place of inspiration not depression. so, as much as i would love to not share this, it seems it is important somehow. if one person switches to a local bank and learns from our mistake, then it is worth the words. for the rest of you, sorry to dwell on the bad news.