Compiled from Public Data by FairShake
The US government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) collects complaints against financial companies.
In 2019, the CFPB received 1354 complaints against USAA. USAA ranked Number 23 among all financial companies for the most complaints.
Date of Complaint: August 28, 2019
Company Official Name: UNITED SERVICES AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION
Product: Checking or savings account
Sub-Product: Checking account
Issue: Closing an account
Sub-Issue: Company closed your account
To Whom It May Concern, After marrying United States XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX in XX/XX/XXXX, my husband and I naturally choose to open a joint checking account in XX/XX/XXXX with his already existing USAA account. We made the call together and answered all of the questions that were probed. My husband is the primary account contributor and account holder as I have a different bank. All was well until I received a call from USAA on XX/XX/XXXX during my lunch break at work. I thought this call was in regards to a flood claim that was denied, but the representative stated I had some missing information from my membership profile. I thought the call was very odd as they were requesting some personal financial information ( estimated net worth, annual income, etc. ) that was required by the Patriot Act that I answer. I was worried it was a scam so I decided it would be best to call them myself the next day. I first looked specifically at the Patriot Act ( 2001 ), Bank Secrecy Act ( BSA ), and Gramm-Leach- Bliley Act ( GLBA 1999 ). I learned two were designed after XX/XX/XXXX to help detect terrorism, money laundering, and illegal activities and the other to protect financial privacy. Turns out all that is required under Section 326 : Verification of Identification of the Patriot Act is : Name, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, ( to confirm they are a US citizen ), Address, and comparison with government lists of known/suspected XXXX activity ( usually referred to as banking systems ). This is in addition to record keeping as a requirement of the Treasury. All of which are used to verify the identity of the personwhich is understandable and I agree necessary. Yet, nowhere does any federal regulation however require financial information, despite USAAs claims. All of the following summaries below were direct recorded conversations, and I am willing to share them if needed. I am hoping to get confirmation that this information is required by federal law, and if it is not, I would like to take legal action against USAA as I believe it is a violation of my financial protection rights. What follows is quite extensive, but felt it imperative I be comprehensive.
On XX/XX/XXXX I called USAA myself to confirm their claim. The agent demanded the information was required by federal law by the Patriot Act and Bank Secrecy Act and that I was required to answer the personal finance questions. I was informed if I did not answer the questions the account would be closed or our assets frozen. I was confused why the needed information was not gathered when we opened the account and was uncomfortable about the questions as it didnt seem it was a federal regulation, so I requested to speak to a manager. The following conversation was with XXXX, of the executive resolutions team, as the senior advisor at USAA : I enquired, did I sign your privacy notice? After we determined it is never actually signed, in regards to my privacy, she checked and confirmed my privacy preference is share. I asked, What changed where you are now required to get my information since you didnt get it before as it is required by federal law? Or is it not required and this is just something that USAA is doing? She replied, No this is something that is required for secondary account holders by the federal law. So I inquired, When we opened the account you claim we used the primarys ( my husbands ) information and that has been sufficient for the last year. This isnt my primary account I have a different bank. So why all of the sudden now are you threatening to inactivate our account if I dont give you this information? If it wasnt required before what makes it required now? The only answer Ive gotten is that it is federal law ; so either you werent compliant with federal law and are now being required to get the information, or it is for your own interest. I would like to know what those interests are, what you are going to do with this information, if you are going to be sharing any of this information, or using it for rates or other data then I am required to view the privacy notice for you to do that. So I am confused. As I was not the primary account holder, I was told I was not allowed to get access to the information we provided when the account was opened. I would have to wait for my husband to be present.
In the meantime, I reached out to my personal bank on XX/XX/XXXX. They advised me NOT to share this information as it is not a federal law and could be shared. I decided to take another step further and speak to XXXX XXXX on XX/XX/XXXX, another Federal Bank to see if this information was indeed required by all other banks as USAA claimed. I spoke to manager XXXX and the conversation went as follows : I wondered what questions she would be asking us or what information would they need to open a joint account and she stated, IDs, maiden name, SSN, DOB. While they may have different policies, as for it being a law, all banks would be following it, as far as I know it is not considered a law. Even if there are financial questions that we may ask you for loans, credit card, or investment accounts, they are up to you if you want to answer. This confirmed my research that it was not a federal requirement.
Later the same day of XX/XX/XXXX, when my husband was home, we spent two hours on the phone to try and get some answers. First, was with USAA agent XXXX. In summary we challenged why this information wasnt provided when the account was opened, this was due to periodic reviews of accounts, the accounts who have not answered these questions are being notified they do need to answer the questions. We had wanted to view the paperwork when the account was opened, but she did not have the information because, we do not have that information to see. It is at the back office where they opened the account. We insisted to be transferred to them stating she would be right back with us. We waited on hold for over 45 minutes, with no answer and never spoke to her again.
On our next attempt we decided to call as if we were opening an account to see how that department would answer our questions. After talking to USAA representative XXXX, we were told I should be able to access any information even though I am not the primary contrary to what I have been told prior. XXXX stated we have to ask financial information as all banks do. After waiting on hold for another 10 minutes for him to review the notes, and the nature of our call he stated again, I do not have access to see the information or the answers that were provided when you opened the account. I work in XXXX and XXXX in XXXX XXXX XXXX. He did confirm that he was asking those same questions when accounts were being opened now : annual income, estimate net worth, occupation, etc.. He stated there are other regulations that require income information under customer due diligence under regulation D and various banking regulations. He was not able to send me information about due diligence so we were conferenced in to Senior with Executive resolutions XXXX ( CEO member relations? ) : XXXX tried to assist us in trying to figure out what information we provided when opening the account. She stated, let me explain to you whats going on. You would not have gotten this information when you opened your account. There was an enhancement to the Patriot Act last year [ XXXX ]. So, this year, all the banks have to comply with the enhancement of the Patriot Act. So those questions like your employment, your income, things like that. So those are a federal regulation now that banks are required to collect this information as part of the customer due diligence information to better get to know your customers ( KYC ) due to all of the terrorism, and things like that going on. We stated we thought we answered our annual income and other questions when we opened the account. She stated each person on the account needed to provide separate information even though we were married. XXXX directed me to the FDIC.gov website to search Customer Due Diligence ( CDD ) which I did. I told XXXX that my personal bank advised I do not give this information as they were not required to and she stated, well they will be. This is a federal regulation that went into effect. XXXX confirmed we started asking these questions this year, but the law went into effect last year so the banks now have to go in and get this information from account holders. I told her all that I could find in regards to the laws were name, date of birth, SSN, and she articulated, It will state other information on that website regarding the customer due diligence where you can ask certain information. On the website I saw nothing even closely related to financial information being required on the CDD update. We repeated to request to see what information was given upon opening of our joint checking account before we add to anything, in hopes to make any information accurate and true. XXXX then stopped answering our questions, and transferred us again to the back office that never answered the phone while hanging up. We waited on hold for 15 minutes to no avail.
The final call, was still on XX/XX/XXXX, was the checking department where we spoke to representative XXXX. Irritated she also couldnt access the information we provided when we opened our account so we could verify what information we already provided. I educated her this information was required by the Patriot Act to be kept and maintained for 5 years. We were then compelled to be transferred to specialist XXXX for the next hour about the KYC and CCD questions. We exasperated explaining we were trying first to confirm what information they already had before adding more to it, then trying to better understand their requirement as it was not a federal law to provide financial information under the BSA, Patriot Act, or Due Diligence update. The conversation with XXXX on XX/XX/XXXX went as follows as is quite lengthy : I dictated Are you filing a SAR? I am not comfortable sharing the information as it increases my risk of identity theft, a data breach, you can share the information with credit bureaus, internal marketing, external marketing, joint marketing, and affiliates. I have not been told how this information will be protected, or how it is shared, or how you secure the information. I have been told I can not opt out, and it is a violation of the Gramm Leach Bliley Act of 1999 [ nor had I seen a privacy notice for XXXX ]. Until those questions are answered for me this is not allowed. She rudely exclaimed, So I will first say the majority of what you say is incorrect. It is absolutely required under the BSA and under the Patriot Act. Any large bank by FDIC regulation is required to abide by these laws. I agreed these are federal laws, but that financial questions are not apart of those laws. She stated, Yes they are Maam. I quoted section 326 of the Patriot Act, and she ignored it. She was able to confirm in the notations that they had my employment information, physical address, your social security number, date of birth, citizenship, and your full name. That is what we have on file. I stated that my annual income is not a requirement of a federal law as they are already able to verify my identity by the Patriot Act. She stated, yes, it is a requirement and I will agree to disagree. I requested to speak to legal to learn how they will protect and share and secure the information and opt me out of sharing. Id like them to show me the privacy notice from this year or you are not getting the information. I would like to speak to legal to hear on the record what they will do with the information to protect and secure it and opt me out of sharing or I am not going to answer. She replied, okay then your account will be closed. Our legal department does not reach out to customers regarding this matter because it is a standard matter and you absolutely are required. I stated, no other banks Ive spoken with are requiring this information and that is not true. She stated, that is it true and I dont need to speak to your banks as that would be a waste of my time. This conversation is not productive and you have received the same information from five different people. After threatening to end the call, she exclaimed, you have your opinion and it is not factual. I apologize if you disagree but that is not going to change the federal regulations.
Instead of her ending the call, I stated there was something else she could help with in regards to why if this requirement came out in XX/XX/XXXX, why we werent asked upon opening the account in XX/XX/XXXX. She held there was an internal audit around the time we opened our account and found there was information that they did not have on file as I have already told you. It did not go out in mass issue to members as it would have overwhelmed their system and call volumes. It has just taken this long to get to my name. They have to go through all of their records from the XXXX, XXXX, and XXXX and so yes we have had to do that in groups. We had her confirm once my husband was on the phone that he had already answered the questions they have everything that they need on file for him but was not able to determine when or how he answered the questions.
My husband calmly stipulated are the questions different for my personal account because I thought when we opened our joint account, we did it at our combined income levels not separate. She simply said yes, so we reiterated, if they have the combined income of mine and hers together as one number, we needed access to it so we could separate it properly, instead of adding more to it which would change our risk factor. She detailed we can not have a joint answer for two people. However, she was not able to confirm what our annual income was for the account. I do not see it in front of me it is in the back-office records. I was troubled saying, if I gave you my annual income now, it could be potentially adding it to the joint income they may already have which wouldnt be accurate for the federal government She informed us, Their records department is a non-member contact, which is why you never got a response from them as they do not accept phone calls, they are a back office department. We tried to explain we had already been transferred to them twice today and she declared she didnt know how and she couldnt speak to what has happened on previous calls. We stated again we needed to either give us the information that is on our records right now, or we have to update them both together. XXXX described, what I update will just go through the system to records and add to it. There is no way to remove it even if he were to call and change it. No so these are general questions. All these are for it to be sure we can do mitigate risk and be sure that we can do risk monitoring for our members activity. Thats all it is for. So, we corroborated if we gave you the wrong information and were put into a different risk bracket that was going to be a problem. XXXX held, So no, you are misunderstanding what I am saying sir. We do not put you into brackets based on risk factors or anything like that. All it is, is to know if a member makes XXXX-XXXX and a wire comes in for a XXXX dollars that looks strange. That is all it is for. Just so we can have a gauge. Kind of a point a perception to go off of, a point of reference that is literally all it is. We stated in order to do that accurately, we would need to update our information together to separate it. She alleged, we do not have a way to update it, and my husband verbalized, then that is a problem for you not for me. She threatened, not necessarily because if you refuse to provide this information your account will be closed. I can not change an existing number ; I can input new data into the records system that is a form on your profile that is personally attached to you. It then gets sent to our back office for them to file. I can not change his because there is no place to input it.
As we expressed concern our direct deposits would be leaked into the account the following week she voiced, I could not find exactly a turn around time for when we needed to move our money out before the account closes. What I would have to do would be to put in a work order to the back office stating that you are refusing to answer the questions. Then at that time they review the account for closure. They would send out an official check with the remaining funds. The team that handles this, [ the MOET team ], it is not records. All direct deposits would be rejected go back to the sender, or if it is within a day or two it could force reopen it if it had not closed completely but usually goes back to the sender. Due to the inconvenience, my husband verified there was no way we could opt out of this, and she expressed, no sir it is a federal regulation. I struggled to get her to conference us into the MOET team who was handling this situation as seniors in the bank, however after being on hold for 20 minutes, she was not able to contact them. XXXX exclaimed she could no longer spent any more time with us to be available for other customers. She confirmed they were very backed up due to all of this going on and it is not a large department. I was frustrated that we would not be able to contact them ourselves and therefore our account would be closed. She confirmed there is no way to contact them by email, by direct number, or any other format by her understanding. This is because they do not use email for secured information.
Consequently, on Saturday XX/XX/XXXX I realized the need to escalate the complaint so I could have someone call us back since the MOET team was not easily available before the account would be closed. A representative, XXXX, with the Executive Resolutions team, helped me to file a complaint and I was told I would be getting a call back from the CEOs office. She once more confirmed the information is used for banking regulations under the Patriot Act and passed in XXXX after XX/XX/XXXX. When it comes to the Patriot Act it advises us as a financial institution just making sure we are doing our customer due diligence we have to know who our customers are. That is ensuring that we know the individual that is with us here at USAA and what they are using the front for. If someone is using the account as money laundering or transferring money to foreign countries. So that we are not letting people move money around that shouldnt be moving money around. If we do not know our customers enough, you can be asked again and re-verify the information periodically to verify it is still accurate and on file. I reaffirmed in regards to due diligence we didnt have any foreign accounts, and my personal account was not at this bank, and my husband is the primary account holder for the joint checking account which they have his information. I confirmed no other federal banks are requiring these questions. I quoted the GLBA and that our last privacy notice was in XXXX and that was a concern and we are not being given the option to opt out. I tried to express my concerns of using the federal government phrase when it is not a federal requirement, and that it was a serious compliant. She agreed that I should speak to the MOET team. I articulated again they do not answer the phone and she agreed it is a busy department and that you have to wait as they are working overtime. Therefore, I was concerned it wouldnt be resolved in a timely fashion. In my attempt to reach the quality department no one answered again. I was confirmed the CEOs office would contact me within one business day after confirming my phone number on Saturday.
Two businesses days later on Tuesday XX/XX/XXXX, I conversed with XXXX from the CEOs office. I gave her a summary of my complaints that our documentation when the account was opened can not be verified, changed, or updated, thus denying us to potentially separate our incomes into two separate numbers. I explained the MOET team could not be reached. I also expressed concern about their requirement to answer the income questions as they are not a federal law for income information as I do not have a loan with them and am not a primary account holder. I told her I didnt appreciate being treated like trash, and be threatened to close my account stating it is a federal law when it is not. Intimidating people to answer questions when the federal government does not require income information and canceling accounts is a huge problem. XXXX stated she was trying to figure out when the account would be closed, but is still waiting from a response from the MOET team. She claimed, It is our current policy and our hands are being tied due to federal guidelines that are forcing us to change and ask these specific questions. I also know that if these questions are not being answered the account will more than likely be closed. They can inactivate the account and in other instances it will be closed. In order to get us into compliance we are being instructed we have to ask this. I requested, to see something official in a document file. I requested to see the policy by email or by mail. I stated that I would like to see that where it specifically asks for income information. She stated, she does not see them written down specifically to ask income questions. I inquired, then how do you know that as a fact? She admitted, I am still waiting for answers. As far as closing accounts we are covered by our depository agreement to do that. That has nothing to do with KYC and that they are closing accounts and inactivating them if the KYC isnt answered. She summarized my concerns and stated she would get back to me with hopefully answering all of my questions.
On Thursday XX/XX/XXXX I got another call from a different USAA representative trying to get me to answer the questions again. They stated they will call again in five business days, and then proceed to close the account if I do not answer the questions. She was unaware of the investigation in XXXX office. Later in the evening on XX/XX/XXXX, I spoke to XXXX for the second time. She stated they still will not tell me what the answers were upon opening our joint checking account. They will not update his information unless there was a new product that was applied for and that they will remain there unless a new product is applied for. I postulated, why can they not answer what they are? Do they not have the questions or the answers when the account was opened? Why cant they tell you? It concerns me they do not have them, which is a federal regulation of the Patriot Act they keep them on file. You said the information is under his [ husbands ] primary account. It is unacceptable they cant prove or say what our income is, but that they have it on file, how do they know what they have? It is my legal right to know what I answered, and you are telling me no that I cant have the information. She confirmed that my husband was asked CDD questions this XX/XX/XXXX through the USAA app detour. However, she does not have access to the questions and has been having computer problems all day and her co-worker never supplied them as requested. In regards to what document stated they need to ask income information, she specified it was under the CDD guidelines from the XX/XX/XXXX amendment in the four specific guidelines. She stated she could not distribute the internal document that requires it but did pass legal review and compliance. That is what they are using to fulfill the requirements of the four CDD guidelines. The privacy notice she stated was listed on the USAA website and was revised in XXXX and it has not changed since then, but it is delivered annually and it does state they collect income information. My guess is that is still the current privacy promise and it has not been updated since then but I will verify that. If the privacy promise hasnt changed the revision date it would be the last time that it was revised and therefore is the same. I questioned why the year wouldnt be changed for the new year ( XXXX ), and she stated it didnt need to. I was concerned by this because they are now collecting new income information but it didnt require any changes.
XXXX verified that we did not answer the questions when the account was opened. I questioned this fact as she does not have access to those and has no idea what was actually requested or answered. This was because she was still trying to get that information from the MOET time. She admitted she does not know. I repeated until we know for sure, I do not want to add to a joint income balance, we can not proceed. If they are refusing to give it to her then thats a problem. In regards to the CDD questions, we determined they make up their own policy which I am not allowed to see stating that it requires income information. I
Complaint Tags: Servicemember
Response Type: Closed with explanation
Company believes it acted appropriately as authorized by contract or law
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