Citizen’s Bank Overdraft Fee Scam

Nine years ago, I signed up for a checking account at Citizens Bank in Flint, MI. Since then, I have been a happy customer… until now. If you are looking for a bank to do business with DO NOT CHOOSE Citizens Bank. The trouble isn’t worth it, and there are MUCH better banks out there.

Here is what happened to me:

Monday morning I had 200 dollars in my checking account.

On Tuesday I used my Visa check card 3 times:
– Once in the morning for a 4 dollar purchase at a coffee shop
– Once later in the afternoon for gas.. a 21 dollar purchase
– Once for lunch: 10 dollars
– Once in the evening at Meijer for 180 dollars (groceries, clothes, etc).

Ok, at this point you can see that I went into the red. I spent more money than I had in my checking account. Well, because I had “overdraft protection” with Citizens, all 3 charges were approved. Now, there is obviously going to be a fee associated with me spending more than I have in my checking account. But how much do you think it is? 10 dollars? 30 dollars? Not even close.

On Wednesday of that week, I was charged 7 fees totaling 231 dollars.

How can this be? Well, according to the customer service representative I spoke with, Citizens bank charges 33 dollars for both pre-authorizations AND the actual charge on the account! That’s right, they charge 2×33 for each charge made on the card for EVERY charge the day you went over. Pre-authorizations are “holds” that are put on your account at places like gas stations or restaurants, where they want to make sure the card isn’t going to be declined before the services are provided. They do not show up on my online account or my monthly statement.

I would have expected ONE fee, my last charge that day, that put me over, not 7 of them. I asked the customer service rep what would have happened had I used my card 20 times that day for small purchased. You guessed it. I would have been charged 40 fees for 33 dollars totaling $1320. Scary to think about. I’ve used my card 15 times in one day before.

Anyway, I wrote them an email stating that I would like all of my money back that they took for these outrageous charges, or else I will be closing my personal AND business account with them. I got an email response about 5 minutes later with instructions on how to close my account. This just proves to me that after 9 years, they really don’t value ANY customers.

In my email I also asked how I am supposed to be aware of data that I have no access to. I have no idea how much the gas station pre-auths my check card for, same with restaurants. Do you know how much your card is preauthorized for? Have you ever even heard of a pre-auth? Since they don’t show this information ANYwhere, I feel that it is unfair that I am penalized for not knowing it. Their only response was that I should “just estimate twice as much as what you spend will be on your card”. The rep actually said that. Great. Now in order to spend 100 dollars on my check card, I need 200 dollars in it because the pre-auth doesn’t clear for 3 days. SCAM.

After some internet research I saw that in this last quarter’s prospectus they mentioned to their investors that they have modified the fee structure and have made if more difficult for “customers to get fees reversed”. Wonderful.

Beware of Citizens Bank. They lost this long-time customer because of one outrageous incident, and I hope they lose many more.

Craigslist scams

Scam Alert! I was browsing craigslist the other day looking for a used car. There was a post that seemed too good to be true for a 2001 BMW for 4000 bucks.

I emailed the address listed in the post, albert.lavia@yahoo.com, requesting the mileage. I got this response:

Hello,

I appreciate your fast response to my ad regarding the 2000 BMW 323i.
As you’ve seen from the pictures my BMW is in perfect condition. It has no rust or dents and it’s accident free. If you want to see the CarFax report I can provide it for you. Here is the VIN# WBAAM3348YFP83003. My asking price is $4000(negotiable). I’m only selling it so cheap because I need to sell it asap due to some personal problems. Mileage is 65,600. I serviced the BMW regularly and it’s in perfect condition.
Because I don’t have a lot of spare time I have appointed Vehicle Exchanges (www.vehicle-exchanges.com ) to handle the transaction for me. They will make the title transfer, arrange the money exchange and deliver the car to your location. At this time the BMW is at their office.
The transaction will be made only by using the terms stated above. If you are interested and you have the money available, please register an account with Vehicle Exchanges and get back to me with the e-mail address you used to register (registration it’s free and they won’t ask for sensitive personal details). As soon as I hear from you I will initiate the transaction and after that they will handle everything.
After we agree on the terms they will deliver the car to your house for a 5-day inspection period and if you like it, you can have it.

Thanks,
Albert

Now I know it is too good to be true. I followed the link to the escrow site he sent and although the site looked professional, something was still not right. It didn’t show up in any search engines, and after doing a whois on the domain, I was certain that this is a scam. The site was registered the same day the post was made on craigslist!

So, how the scam works: the unsuspecting victim agrees to sign up for an account at the Escrow site that the SCAMMER OWNS, and then enters their credit card or bank account information. This information is sent to the scammer, and the victim never sees the car that was promised to be delivered.

Be careful of scams like this. If you’re buying something from craigslist, do it in person. Also, remember that even if a site looks professional, it still may be a scam!

Scam Alert: 727-471-1418

Got a call from 727-471-1418 today on my unlisted VOIP number. They ask for banking account information. I start questioning them and they hang up. Seems like a massive scam. More numbers they use and some other victim reports can be found here:

http://junkcalls.nfshost.com/bboard/index.php?showtopic=65&st=40&#entry534

Live calls from: 727-471-1400, 727-471-1401, 727-471-1402, 727-471-1403, 727-471-1404, 727-471-1405, 727-471-1406, 727-471-1407, 727-471-1408, 727-471-1409, 727-471-1410, 727-471-1410, 727-471-1411, 727-471-1412, 727-471-1413, 727-471-1414, 727-471-1415, 727-471-1416, 727-471-1417, 727-471-1418

Call-back numbers of: 877-247-0786, 800-853-9982, 800-432-6350, 866-545-5486, 888-612-2894

Names given: Agents Travel Network, Distinct Advantage, Freedom Gold, Capital Vacations, Florida Passport

Scam: They offer you a free vacation, but they need to confirm your checking account number bank routing number (these are the numbers on the bottom of your checks). Then they make unauthorized fraudulent debits from your checking account.