It's as easy as downloading an app. Internet-only banks could be appealing for consumers in the midst of a pandemic lockdown. But there can be a downside to the online world of banking. Getting through to a live person in customer service can be difficult when customers run into major trouble.
Like many workers, Louisa Escalada used direct deposit for her hospital paycheck. Her account was with Chime, an online-only bank that advertises “no minimum balance” and “no monthly fees."
Louisa’s daughter Shirley called ABC Action News after Chime locked her mother out of her account which contained a newly deposited $1,300 paycheck. Shirley said the bank claimed there was “suspicious activity.”
In an email Chime notified Louisa it locked her account due to deposits....not in compliance with its internal policies & the member agreement executed at enrollment."
Shirley said her mother lives check-to-check and the money in that account was the only money she had. “To just close your account and not give you any notice especially during a time like this it is devastating,” Shirley said.
Chime asked Louisa for several documents which the family says she provided. But Louisa still couldn’t access her money. Her daughter even tried social media to get their attention. “I reached out to Chime messages on Facebook, on Instagram, on their online live talk,” Shirley said, "but never connected with anyone."
Banks can legally suspend your account without warning because of suspected fraud. But there are state and federal resources for consumers who feel like their banks made a mistake.
After hearing Louisa’s story Taking Action reporter Jackie Callaway contacted a Chime spokesperson. The company quickly provided Louisa with access to her funds.
Chime said in this statement: “Thank you for reaching out. While we can’t disclose information about individual member accounts, please be assured Chime takes matters like this very seriously and our Member Services team has worked quickly to investigate and fully resolve this member’s issue.”
Shirley confirmed her mother’s account was reopened.
“After you reached out my mom messaged me at five in the morning. They said they reopened her bank account and she was so happy!”