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Ask Dave

The Bank Stole My Identity!

Brian received a letter from his bank saying they'd received a credit card application in Brian's name. Brian didn't submit the application. A teller submitted it for him. Dave thinks this is ridiculous.

QUESTION: Brian in Washington, D.C., received a letter from his bank saying that they’d received a credit card application in Brian’s name. Brian didn’t submit the application and contacted the bank. It turns out a teller submitted it for him even though Brian never asked for this card. Dave thinks this is absolutely ridiculous.

ANSWER: What happened is that the tellers are so heavily incentivized to not do teller work but instead to sell debt products, that the fact that you mentioned it means the teller jumped the gun and filled out the application. That’s completely illegal, completely wrong, and I would move all my banking out of SunTrust if that happened to me. That’s absolutely absurd—you’ve got to be kidding me!

The teller stole your identity and filled out a credit card application without your permission. Have these people lost their freaking minds? It all goes back to the pressure that they put on the tellers. The tellers are some of the best salespeople you’ll ever meet in your life because it’s the only way they get to keep their job. If they don’t move a certain number of debt products, regardless of how many deposits they run up or checks they cash or whatever you’re supposed to do as a teller, that doesn’t matter. If they don’t sell debt products, they lose their job. That’s the pressure that’s on them and that’s how the megabanks are doing things.

Then, what’s absurd and absolutely ridiculous, is that the branch manager defended it! You could call the commerce department in your state, or whoever manages banking for the D.C. district and file a complaint, or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission if you want, but it’s not going to do any good. You’re not going to change SunTrust.

I would go in and tell the branch manager that they just got ripped on national radio because of his actions and you are closing all your accounts there. I wouldn’t do business with them. If it happens again and you stay there, that’s your fault. And it’s going to happen again, because when you’re dealing with these megabanks, that’s part of the problem. They make more money on the issuing of credit cards than they do on any other single product line. So they push, jam, twist, punch every employee in the place to move credit cards. Consequently, you get a teller basically stealing your identity.

That’s what this is. You did not authorize this. She fills out the application without your authorization and that’s identity theft. I’d be all up in their stuff. I might file a police report on the teller and see if you can’t get something stirred up that way. She stole your identity. You did not authorize the process and now you’ve identified who did that.

If we don’t stand up to this by not doing business with these people or have some kind of reaction to it, then they just keep doing this over and over. This is something that the SunTrusts and the Bank of Americas and the Wells Fargos and the Chases and the Citis do. They’ve lost their soul and they’re out of control. All they are after is Q1 profit. It’s all about stock price and has nothing to do with the customer anymore.

Most of the local banks, the regionals and small-town community banks and credit unions still have their brains plugged in. More so on average than the nationals do. But why any of us would continue to do business with them is beyond me. You’re asking for it! This is the kind of stuff they do all the time.