I recently went through the process of obtaining a new bank account. It was a fascinating process, and one that will no doubt be useful to everyone. Because so much has changed.
I remember opening my first bank account.
My mother to the Lincoln National Bank in Fort Wayne when I was perhaps six years old. I walked out with my very own bank account. I could prove I owned it because of the luxurious little “passbook” I was provided – a deep blue cover with the image of Fort Wayne’s then-tallest building, the Lincoln Tower, inscribed in the cover in gold leaf. Yes, this was what banking was all about.
Over the years I watched the balance grow after deposits from the birthday and Christmas checks from relatives, and later from the earnings from my part-time jobs. I watched interest start to add up – an experience that has gone obsolete, until recently, at least.
I have opened a few accounts since then. OK, between business and getting married and raising kids, more than a few. But this newest one was the easiest of all, because I had to do exactly – – – nothing!
In fact, the task was so effortless that I had not even realized that I had opened the account until I opened my mail one day recently. I was greeted with three separate mailings from the credit union in Massachusetts with my account number, a small welcome packet, and even a debit cars I was invited to activate.
I wondered if my memory was starting to fail me. Marianne has been known to ask “Do I have to worry about you?” when I have a little lapse of woolgathering. Could it have been a part of some other transaction we had entered recently? I know about getting a toaster or a prepaid gift card when you open some kind of credit account, but getting a free credit union account was a new one on me.
If opening it was the easy part, then closing it was significantly more difficult. There was no menu item on the touchtone phone menu for “Hey, what’s this all about?” So a short 45 minute wait ensued. Fortunately, I had plenty of other things to do while I listened to the pleasant music.
I finally reached a representative and made my inquiry: “Ummm – I don’t remember opening this account, could you give me more information?” After a few more minutes on hold I determined that their crack Fraud Department was already on the job and had flagged my new account as suspicious. It turns out that Marianne does not have to worry about me (not yet, at least) because it turns out that I was not the one who had opened the account.
I wondered how a fraudster somewhere could profit from opening a new account in my name when everything was sent to my address. Were they expecting me start making deposits into it on the chance that I would not look the gift horse in the mouth? Or that I might activate the debit card? It was suggested to me by the credit union rep that the game was probably to give it a little time, then submit an address change and request a duplicate card.
So, while the opening process was as easy as pie, the closing process turned out to be far more onerous, and involved freezing my credit bureau accounts and providing more information to the nice people at my soon-to-be ex-credit union. So, it turns out that I really have no idea how to open an account when I didn’t do it in the first place, but I at least know how to close one. The silver lining is that if I ever move to Massachusetts, I know a credit union I can join.