Wells Fargo froze my account
I was fully employed for over 30 years, made great money, and had really great credit.
Then the company I worked at for 22 years closed down at the end of last year. I got a new job right away, making the same money. Then, in April the new company started having trouble for the same reasons the old one did, and I was laid off and drew unemployment from April until October.
To make matters worse, I had company credit cards at the old company, and they went after me personally. Even with being laid off that long, I probably could have worked it out and continued to pay my own bills, but I couldn't pay the bills of my former employer on top of them.
So.... on Wednesday of this week my wife and I filed Chapter 7.
Over the next couple of days things seemed like they were going fine. I went to the ATM and withdrew some money on Friday morning and the account was fine. Late Friday afternoon, my wife called me from the market, and said that the Wells Fargo Debit card had been declined.
I went online and looked at the account, and it showed me with a zero balance. I should have had most of my first paycheck back from unemployment in it... but the money was "gone".
I called Wells Fargo and they referred me to a phone number to get more information about my "situation". I called the number, but of course, they were closed for the weekend.
I called the customer service line back and the Rep said that it was related to my recent filing for Bankruptcy.
I have two credit accounts with Wells Fargo, one is a Visa card and I owed no money at all on that for the last several months. The other was my home equity line, which I had kept paying through being unemployed, and have never been late on.
I did some reading up on the situation, which brought me to this website. I found another article written by a BK attorney saying that both Wells Fargo and Union Bank were the only banks he knew of that will automatically freeze a checking account when they learn that a customer has filed bankruptcy.
My own lawyer said something to me earlier in the process about getting out money out of the Wells Fargo account, but the way I understood her was that I should do that if I was behind in any payments with them.. .and I wasn't.
The money they froze was the only money we had left, and I had it there to do things like pay the house payment (inlcuding the home equity line with them), buy groceries, pay the car payment (with someone else, but also not late)... etc. Now I can't do any of that.
I was able to contact our attorney on Friday night via email, and she wrote back that she would "try and get the money released on Monday". But, we have had to go through the weekend with no money.
Of course, if I had understood that this might happened, I would have done things differently... but, this has really put us in a bind. The Attorney that wrote the article says that he recommends that his clients keep their money in a bank other than Wells Fargo or Union Bank, since he does not know of any other banks that do this.
I have engaged in an email thread with Wells customer service reps over the weekend telling them that they were putting me and my family in an emergency situation. The best they can tell me is to call on Monday. I asked if there was a place on their website that I could read up on the policy and how it works, and they said there was not, I just have to wait out the weekend.
I don't know how what they are doing could be legal. The Trustee didn't order the acount frozen, and I'm not late on any payments to Wells Fargo. What it does do is guarantee that I'll be late on any bills I get between now and when they let my money go, and nobody can tell me how long that might end up being.
What a mess.
Spoke with the BK Dept of Wells Fargo
I was finally able to talk to someone in the "Deposit Bankruptcy Department" at Wells Fargo.
As I had assumed, their hold on the account has nothing to do with debt to them. They said that my money was pledged to the bankrupt estate, and that on Friday they notified my Attorney and the Trustee that they had frozen the accounts pending further instructions by the Trustee.
I thought it was lovely that they took time to notify two other parties, but we were not notified which resulted in my wife being in line at the market with a basket full of food on Friday evening and no way to pay for it.
I asked them under what authority they were doing this. They said that in the ost recent account agreement on page 13 under "Adverse Claims and Legal Practices" they spell out the policy. They also said they were acting under sections 541 and 542 of the Bankruptcy code. I have not yet looked these up, but I will.
I explained that they had placed me and my family in an emergency situation, and that we have a sick minor child at home who requires medication that we are unable to pay for.
The person seemed unphased by it and kept telling me that I needed to call my Attorney and have them contact the Trustee, who would authorize them to release the funds.
I told her that I was aware of people who had waited weeks for a release, and she assured me that it is unusual for that to happen. I asked if if there was any recourse for me if that did happen, and she said she didn't know of any.
She also told me that any other money I put in the account would be left alone. They were only allowed to take what was in the account the day they were made aware of the Bankruptcy. So, I could put more money in and use that to operate. I explained that I have been unemployed for six months and what was in the account was my first paycheck after going back to work. Of course, they hear this stuff every day an could care less.
I explained how this is a very dangerous thing to do to families, especially when they are struggling financially. That due to my daughters condition we have professionals who are treating her, and if they were to realize that we were in a position where we could not buy her medicine, they might take her into foster care, and then we would have to fight to get her back.
You guessed it... they still could care less.
I called my Attorney and she said she was waiting for her assistant to come in and she would get the assistant to call the Trustee and get a letter faxed over today to get the funds released. She too acted like it was all no big deal and I shouldn't let myself get so upset over it.
I hope they are all right. So far, nobody is doing anything about it but me.
According to what I was told by the person at Wells Fargo, it sounds as if I could have walked into the bank on Thursday, taken most of the cash (leaving enough for the account to stay open), took it home, put it in a sock.... then, this morning walk back in and redeposit the money an none of this would have happened. If I had read this forum last week, I would probably would have known that.
Thank you to everyone here from the bottom of my heart, for helping me understand what was happening. It was a very lonely weekend, and finding this forum really helped.
I will continue to update this thread as things develop. Hopefully, it willl help someone in the future not make the same mistake I did by leaving all the money I had left in the world in a Wells Fargo Bank account on the day my bankruptcy was filed.
They froze my Mother-in-Law's Account
As if things weren't bad enough...
My Attorney's office called me a few minutes ago asking why Wells Fargo reported two additional accounts beyond what I had told them about.
I sincerely had no idea what they were talking about. Then they thew out two names, which end up being my Mother-in-law and Sister-in-law.
Several months back, my wife's Mother had a very serious stroke. It impacted her ability to walk and balance. Then, just as she was beginning to recover, she fell and broke her hip. My wife has been taking care of her along with two of her siblings for months now.
At some point, my wife went on her Mom's bank account at.... you guessed it... Wells Fargo, so she could help her by paying her bills for her.
About once a week, my wife gets together all her Mom's bills, and writes checks and signs them, since her Mom has been in the hospital a lot over the last several months.
So... when Wells Fargo froze our accounts, they froze my wife's Mother's accounts too, because she appears as a signer.
The Attorneys office tells me that they are trying to beat a 3pm deadline today to get file an amendment with the Trustee that includes my Mother-in-Law's accounts along with mine.
What a nightmare.
The money is back in the account
As of 5:15pm on Monday, the money is back in the account.
I'm glad it didn't drag out for weeks, especially after I learned that my wife's Mother had been dragged into it due to my wife being a signer on her account in order to help her with bills during her long illness.
Thanks to everyone here for the advice and encouragement.