KPRC 2 Investigates: Bank cancels account, keeps $6,300 from customer

Can a bank just close your account? What can you do if this happens?

HOUSTON – Most of us depend on banks to keep our money safe. But some consumers say when they needed their money their bank held it for days and sometimes weeks. They called KPRC 2 Investigates for help. Investigator Amy Davis is looking into what you need to know about your rights and your money.

Customer issue: Bank gives no explanation for closing account

We received three complaints within a couple of weeks from bank customers from different big banks all with similar stories. Their banks closed their accounts or held their money for weeks with no explanation.

KPRC 2 Investigates why bank closed account and kept money from customer. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Jason Sims makes a living fixing things. He’s a sort of jack of all trades who works on cabinet remodels, countertops, sheetrock and pretty much anything anyone needs.

What Sims needs from one project to the next is money to be able to purchase supplies for his jobs. It’s why he said Bank of America left him in a lurch when he deposited a $6,300 check from a job in October but then couldn’t get that money out.

“The most frustrating part about it is, I couldn’t work. I didn’t have any money to provide any materials for any job sites,” said Sims.

Bank of America closed his account and sat on his money for 14 days before he called KPRC 2 Investigates asking for help.

KPRC 2 Investigates why bank closed account and kept money from customer. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

“They never would tell me why. They said that they chose to discontinue doing business with me was the only reason they had given me,” he said.

Bank of America wouldn’t give us any explanation either. Instead, they reopened his account and put his money back.

In a statement a bank representative wrote:

“We can’t discuss specific account details. But we reached out to Mr. Sims and the issue was positively resolved.”

- Bank of America spokesperson

“What makes me mad the most is I never did anything wrong and if I did something wrong, just tell me,” said Sims.

Can a bank just cancel your account?

“Unfortunately, the law is not really clear about what happens if a bank freezes or closes your account. When can they do that? How long can they hold onto your money? We don’t have clear rules,” said Lauren Saunders, Associate Director of the National Consumer Law Center.

Saunders says banks may need to close and freeze accounts to prevent suspected fraud but cases like Sims show why it’s important there should be rules that establish deadlines and protections for innocent customers. We followed Sims to the bank the day of our interview where he finally withdrew his money and closed his account.

KPRC 2 Investigates why bank closed account and kept money from customer. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

It was a happy day for Jason Sims, but not all customers get these results. One other avenue for bank customers in the same situation is filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They can reach out to the bank on your behalf to try and resolve the issue.


About the Author:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.