Need some advice.
January 2022 update, from Dallas with love
I’m currently in Dallas, TX with my parents to visit family.
My dad, 68, is a former Wall Street banker and cab driver. His Social Security retirement stipend is his only source of income. His financial institution, Sterling National Bank (SNB) blocked/froze/locked his debit card the first time it was used out-of-state for an ATM cash withdrawal, presumably as an automatic fraud prevention security mechanism, despite informing his local branch about his travel plans two weeks prior to flying. Yet, my mother, 65, can access her Social Security stipend, and her financial institution, TD Bank, another Northeast regional bank, made no such restrictions (on ATM access, purchases, authorizations, transactions, remittances, and so forth), nor are there any restrictions on any of my cards, including my Venmo debit card.
Despite his numerous unsuccessful calls to customer service, several SNB representatives informed him they could not verify his identity over the phone and therefore could not proceed to lift existing blocks on several features of his checking account, including: the ability to use his debit card, which, unauthorized by and unbeknownst to him, was now “locked” inexplicably without further explanation; ACH/wire transfer to external accounts, such as his wife’s and/or his son’s, as our debit cards are fully functional and they have not been so aggrieved by their respective banking institutions; and Zelle service activity, barring him from sending funds to the aforementioned family relatives’ checking account(s) for near-instant access, as we could withdraw.
He has repeatedly been stonewalled and treated extremely poorly, informed replacement cards could not be expedited nor overnighted, and that he would have to wait 7–10 business days (!) in the middle of a pandemic, with the Omicron variant presently ravaging the country (except Texas, obviously, because I’m usually the only one wearing a KN95 mask wherever I go), and no funds accessible for food, shelter, or even transportation back home to New York, where he could visit a branch for an instant issue replacement debit card, but now is unable, as he has been blocked from accessing his money. Later, he was blocked from using the online banking services which he was formerly able to, for days after the initial card error occurred on Saturday, January 8th.
To add insult to injury, several card services representatives deflected his pleas for relief by insisting this is a matter which only his local branch, namely the Jackson Heights branch, could resolve; and, after requesting his phone number and email address, which he readily provided, stated he would hear back from the branch soon. Alas, two full weeks have passed and he received no form of communication updating him on when this issue will be resolved.
He emailed the branch all of the above, and unsurprisingly, received no reply.
- Who requested his card be locked, as it was not him? How can any random person request any other person’s card be locked, without causing chaos?
- Why is his identity not verifiable, when he was formerly able to log in and access his account and banking services through three (3) different other methods, namely: 1. automated assistance over the phone; 2. mobile app usage on his smartphone; and 3. online banking using an Internet-enabled computer, all while confirming sensitive information only he could know, including the last four digits of his Social Security Number (SSN), his mother’s maiden name, his custom log-in PIN, past mailing addresses, and every email address and phone number ever used on the account?
- Why have two full weeks passed without even the slightest restitutive efforts from his branch, customer service representatives, card services representatives, and Sterling National Bank as a financial institution?
- Is SNB satisfied with the way they treat their customers, particularly the elderly, arguably the most vulnerable, who are not only among highest risk for contracting COVID-19 but highest risk for hospitalization, intubation, severe complications, and mortality, even if vaccinated/boosted?
I am not only his son, but his legal guardian, and his New York State (NYS) Medicaid-appointed Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) caregiver for the past five (5) years. SNB won’t even speak to me.
At this point, I don’t know whether to send my dad back to NYC or not.
Has anybody ever experienced this? Any advice and suggestions are welcome. More than anything, I’m thinking out loud, in the form of the typed word, which has been immensely helpful, and reminds me I. need. to. write. more.
In the meantime, I’m supporting my dad financially, as I have and always will. If you’d like to contribute to offsetting the additional, unanticipated strain, and only if you are comfortably able to do so, below are my credentials:
PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org or paypal.me/asksfali, Cashapp: $sfali789, Venmo: sfali789 (Venmo is preferable, as my Venmo debit card works here)
Thanks for reading. I love and miss you all. Belated best wishes for a happy healthy new year to you, your families, and your loved ones.
One more thing. Please excuse my extended absence, break, hiatus, etc. It is never intentional. The only thing I love more than writing is reading, and I anxiously anticipate easier, freer times (for us all!) ahead to highlight, share, comment, and clap the wheels off your stories. For all those who read, replied to, and shared my most recent stories, “9/11” and “1 in 500”, I want you to know I opt-in for, receive, and read every single email notification possible, from highlights, to responses, to private comments and suggested edits. I have 14,764 emails in my Gmail Medium label folder. Zero unread. The point here is simple: I see you, I cherish you, and I appreciate you. I mean it.
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