ATLANTA – You believe your money is safe in your own bank account, but your bank can refuse you access to it for any reason.
“They banned my entire account on April first. As you know, the bills are due April 1,” said Trei Taylor Justin Gray, Channel 2 investigative reporter.
It took Taylor more than a year to navigate red tape and secure a Small Business Administration COVID-19 relief loan for her voiceover and production business.
That $40,000 loan was finally deposited into her bank account last week.
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“When that came in Tuesday morning, I was ecstatic,” Taylor said.
But late Friday, a notification came that her bank account was blocked.
Taylor was denied access not only to the loan but also to all of the money already in her account, totaling more than $12,000.
“Give me my money back. I deserve it,” she said.
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Taylor had moved away from traditional big banks. Instead, she used the online bank Blue Vine, a so-called fintech company, to save on fees and avoid such problems with big banks.
“The people running the fintech, a lot of them came from the big banks and adopted the same practices,” Clark Howard, Channel 2 Consumer Advisor called.
Howard said banks have been known to do this when it comes to a large transaction that they believe may be a scam.
“Banks will lie and say they are doing this to protect you. No, that’s just for her,” Howard said.
in one Channel 2 Action News investigated Story in 2020 on WSB Tonight, we showed you how Bank OZK seized more than $80,000 in PPP funds from the owner of a Metro Atlanta dog bakery with no explanation.
“You never deposit money from a loan that you get in the same place you do your regular banking, you ask for trouble,” Howard said.
Taylor had to borrow credit cards from friends to pay her first bills of the month. While Blue Vine has now said her account will be reactivated, she still notes that payments are not going through.
“It’s traumatizing because you just feel like a gangster. That’s all I could think about — bullying, gangsters,” Taylor said.
The other advice here is to keep your money in more than one place.
Whether you use a credit union, a brick-and-mortar bank, or an online bank, you should have another account with another institution, just in case.
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