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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Good Samaritan blues thanks to Bank of America

It is my nature to get involved. I'm not the kind of person who waits for someone else to step up to the plate and take action. When there's something I can do to help another person or a situation, I instinctively move to do so without a moment's hesitation.

Saturday night about 8 o'clock I had stopped by the Bank of America branch on 6th Avenue to use the cash machine when I noticed someone's Visa debit card laying on the ledge by the cash machine.

I took the wayward debit card to the car and called 411 on my cell phone to see if the person whose name was on the card had a telephone listed in his name. Telephone, yes. Listed, no.

Next I decided that I would write a note to go with the card and put it into one of the deposit envelopes and drop it into the Night Depository for safe-keeping until the branch opened on Monday so at least the card would be protected and safe until then since I was unable to reach the individual by phone.

I had a reporter's notebook in my totebag so I scribbled out a note explaining the details, put it into the envelope, and then drove around to the other side of the bank where the Night Depository is located.

I got out of the car and tugged on the handle to drop the deposit envelope with the card into the Night Depository, but the handle wouldn't budge! It seems that Bank of America no longer has Night Depository service for just anyone. A key is now required to open the receptacle.

It appeared that a janitorial crew was inside the branch, but I thought that if I went and pounded on the glass doors it might frighten them. So that was out.

I also considered sliding the envelope with the debit card either under the door or trying to push it between the doors, but then I thought the janitorial crew might think it was just trash and they might throw it away.

At that point I decided to bring it home and call Customer Service (a misnomer, as it turned out) and report that I had found the card.

I tried calling both of the phone numbers on the back of the Visa debit card.

This led to my discovery that there is no option in the automated voicemail menu that Bank of America has with which one can report a found card. It kept asking me to "Speak your selection" so I kept telling it "found Visa debit card" and it kept saying, "I'll connect you to lost and stolen credit cards."

Next the automated system wanted my account number. What number? The number on the card I'd found or the number of my own account?

It was so frustrating! No human being was anywhere to be found to help toward resolution of the dilemma.

After working my way through the voicemail maze, the 'voice' told me that "due to higher than usual call volume, you may be on-hold for a longer than usual amount of time. Try using" and then the phone started making a series of sharp, rapid, staccato clicking noises and the line went dead.

I went online to and scrutinzed every possible option on the Web site and there was no way to report a "found Visa debit card."

When even the Web site was a dead-end, I once again went through the entire process of slogging through the voicemail menu step-by-step-by-step in yet another futile attempt to arrive at the right location to report a "found Visa debit card" and I eventually navigated to that same point as I had previously when the computer-generated voice came on and informed me that Customer Service had closed at 5 p.m. By this time, it was after 9 p.m. So despite all my earlier efforts, they'd been closed the whole time!

Monday I had no time or opportunity to drive back over to that bank branch. Today I had forgotten about it until this evening and now it's too late. So, it will be at least Wednesday before I can get back over there during the hours that the branch is open to turn in the "found Visa debit card." Meanwhile, I can only imagine that the card's owner is wondering what has happened to his card and perhaps fearing he will have to close the account or that his credit will be ruined by identity theft.

For all the publicity about identity theft and how Bank of America is so committed to helping thwart that, I would think/hope/expect that at the very least they would have one human being available 24 hours a day to whom a lost or a found Visa debit card could be reported.
The person whose card I found has never even signed the back of the card. Anyone who found it could have easily signed it and been using it on a spending spree long before Bank of America would have even had a means available to report the card as having been found or having been lost.


Stephanie Frieze said...

Without the pin number it might have been hard to use the card. I believe that writing "See ID" is preferable to having your signature on your card. I am always annoyed when a cashier does not ask to see ID when I make a transaction with a card.

JosephMcG said...

Love it, love your post, love it... big cities, big cities... we get lost in them; we don't appear to be able to survive outside of them... but the cumbersomeness of our lives, the distance between us, the loneliness and frustration that comes with being anonymous and so very much alone...
hang in there, Good Sam, let your one little light continue to shine in our darkness

EmeraldPrincessOnline said...

The PIN number is only needed when doing a debit card transaction.

The card is a Visa debit card. It can be used like a credit card.

For instance, had I been of a mind to do it, I could have gone on a 'girls gone wild' shopping spree online. No PIN number is required for any purchase online. The beauty of the Visa debit card is that it is for all intents and purposes a credit card.

Some online retailers will ask for the 3-Digit verification code on the back of the card (which certainly is there) so that would not have prevented any purchases from being made.

Debit card purchases are debited right away from the checking account.

However, when the card is used as a Visa credit card, the purchases may not even be deducted/processed to be taken out of the account for several days afterward.

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