Saturday, December 14, 2013

My Bank Accounts Get Shut Down Again

     In my pile of mail on Monday there were two computer-generated letters.
     The return address was PNC headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky.
     Please be advised that PNC Bank will be closing your accounts on 12/25/2013.  In addition, any associated debit cards will be closed 6 calendar days from the date of this letter to allow pending card transactions to clear the account before the closure is complete.
     No apologies.
     After when [sic] all of the funds deposited into the account have been collected, we will draw a cashier's check for the balance in the account and mail it to you.
     A robot wrote this.
     Please terminate any automatic transactions before the closing date.  You should also immediately destroy or return to the bank any unused checks, withdrawals, debit cards and deposit tickets.
     PNC is where I opened new accounts two years ago, when M&S Bank and Campus Credit Union refused to do business with me, after two decades.
     The FBI raided my medical clinic in June 2010 and since then I have had one bank account after another closed--seven in all.  It doesn't matter to the banks that I haven't been charged, arrested, or even notified of the reasons for the raid.  Once the government points a finger at you, banks slam their doors in your face.
     The first time this happened the government confiscated all the money in my business and personal accounts, making it impossible for me to pay staff or hire a lawyer:  $400,000 in all.  When I was notified, this week, that my bank accounts were being shut down again, I assumed the worst:  another forfeiture by a government that has no right but doesn't care.
     Civil forfeitures like this have become commonplace in America.  See: for an excellent report about this.  If you think your money is yours, you're wrong, the author says.  If you think your car, house, wallet, cell phone or even your kids are yours, think again.  Government agents have easy access to it all.  They get judges to grant warrants for forfeitures as easily as one obtains lottery tickets--except that all their tickets are winners.  The local police and FBI get to keep a large proportion of seized assets. Why not take my clinic's assets, or yours, or anyone's?  It doesn't seem to matter that there isn't cause.
     Maybe the judges have full dockets, or maybe they simply don't have legal recourse for denying the prosecutors' requests, but they don't ask for real proof or even reasonable suspicion of a crime.  What reasons, I wonder, were given for the raid on my clinic or the theft of my bank accounts?
     Tomorrow it might be your business, or your bank account.
     This week the bank must have closed my accounts following a government demand for information using a pretext, "suspicion of a fraudulent conveyance of assets"--a term that refers to the act of hiding stolen money.  Government demands of any kind seem to trigger banks to close accounts.  Banks don't want to do business with potential criminals--the irony of Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs notwithstanding.
     My letters from PNC were signed:  Sincerely,  DRU/Positive Balance Closure.
     "DRU" stands for Deposit Recovery Unit.
     I had to squint to make out a toll-free number folded into the crease of the letter, and dialed it.
     "Thank you for calling PNC Bank Overdraft Protection," I was told.  "Calls may be monitored for quality assurance." Click, silence.
     Then a receptionist, very cordial, spoke to me.  Be cordial, her cue card said.  Customers may become irate.  Stay calm.  Remember your training.
    "PNC-Bank- DRU-Department-thank-you-for-doing-business-with-PNC-this-is Mandy-how-can-I-help-you?"
     "Hi Mandy.  I have two letters saying you're closing my bank accounts."
     "Certainly," said Mandy.  "I can help you with that.  What's the reference number?"
     The code triggered a response that she could read to me from her screen.
     "PNC has chosen to sever its relationship with you."
     "Its relationship?"
     "Yes, its relationship with you.  It's over."
     "I don't know."
     "Why not?"
     "I don't know."
     "Am I allowed to know why my accounts were closed?"
     "Ma'am," she said.  We don't have to tell you."
     "I'm hurt by that."
     "I'm sorry," she said.  "PNC doesn't want to do business with you any more."
     "But, why not?  What happened?"
     "I'm not at liberty to give you that information."
     "What might be some of the usual reasons for closing customer accounts?"
     "PNC has the right to close your accounts at any time," she said answered coldly.  "It doesn't have to give you a reason."
     "Who did it?"
     "PNC Corporate."
     "But, what person made the decision?"
     "PNC Corporate."
     "Then, who wrote the letter?"
     "PNC Corporate."
     "Who is 'PNC Corporate'?  Is it a person?"
     Mandy's tone darkened.
     "Listen, Ma'am, when you opened a bank account you signed a contract agreeing to the terms set out by PNC.  One of those terms was that PNC can close your accounts at any time."
     "Oh," I said.
     "They don't have to give you a reason," she went on.  "You signed that contract."
     "Everyone signs that contact," I said, "because you make us.  And no one reads it."
     Mandy was silent.
     "Thank you for all your help," I said.
     "You're welcome," she replied.
     Then she returned to the PNC Corporate script.  Her voice got smiley and she asked, "Is there anything else I can do for you today?"


  1. Did she also have the gaul to say, "Have a nice day?" Did she even offer to attempt to find the answer or refer you to someone who could answer? How horrible!

  2. This a well-written life-is-stranger-than -fiction account of the disgusting perfume-on-used-toilet-paper large corporations call 'customer service' or public relations. The final question of the poor enslaved robot is the perfect ironic punch line we've all heard way too many times already. Only thing I would change is to make that the title of the entire post. As a central European, David O'Clock would appreciate the bitter irony of "Is there anything else I can do for you today?" which is worthy of Kafka.

  3. Well, interestingly enough I received the same exact letter (with different close dates of course) just yesterday. I had National City since about 1997 which turned over to PNC in 2008 and totally blindsided not to mention baffled as to the reason why they just out of nowhere decided to close my accounts. When I called the "DRU Positive Account Balance" toll free number I was simply and rudely told nothing more than "PNC chooses who they want to do business with and we no longer wish to do business with you." WOW is all I have to say. I did escalate this to a consumer complaint with PNC only to be called and asked if there was anything more they could help me with which I replied, yes, what is the reason why PNC has come to the decision to close my accounts and if they could please let me in on the secret. NOPE, they do not have to give a reason. It will remain a mystery and I have never in my life heard of such a thing. I am sorry that I ever banked with them knowing this is how they treat their customers. So I do hope that someone reads this and stays away from PNC because I can tell you 110% without a doubt I did nothing to deserve this treatment and I am happily banking elsewhere so PNC can kiss my you know what. After some research, it appears that PNC bank seems to be the only bank that does this to their customers. WEIRDOS!!

    1. I received the same letter today!!! PNC has messed up my accounts and they have a major problem with their new Smart Access Card. You are required to use your ss# to log in and they have not figured out a way to fix it. Stay away from PNC!! Bank anywhere else but there. I have referred my to the Feds. they handle the large banks!

  4. I got that letter today as well. My story is that I noticed 3 fraudulent charges on my account. They investigated (119.00 worth) April 21 letter.. Got another letter on April 24, they apologized & the charges were reversed! Got a letter TODAY THAT THEY ARE CLOSING MY ACCOUNT? with no reason why. I called the same dept with the ref number and they don't have to tell you ANYTHING?
    SEEMS to me, I have been punished for keeping an eye on my account or for disputing charges that were not mine on my account?
    WENT to the local PNC bank mgr. he copied letters, told me he would look into it. I went to use Mac card which was supposed to be good for 6 days from the date of the letter April 29 *which I rec today. COULD NOT GET MONEY OUT!
    Came home...called the regular 800 number and they said it was closed by card loss department and they were closed! Call back tomorrow!

    THIS IS UNREAL! COMPLETELY UNREAL! Is there a higher authority to speak with? Meanwhile, I have 2 other accounts there .... I now cannot trust PNC BANK!

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  6. 00 1 412-803-7711 Sir please tell me this is PNC Bank Customer Service Number or not. If no then please provide me right number...

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