Bank of America Trains to Ignore Alerts

Bank of America Bogus Alert
Bank of America Bogus Alert

As I type I’m sitting in a laundromat washing some big blankets. What prompts this entry is the alert from the Bank of America shown in the image here. So, instead of sitting in the massage chair (which is a decent deal in this laundromat), I figured I better call Bank of America because it says that if I did not look up my ID I should call them immediately.

I did just that and wasted 30 minutes of my time and ended up being trained to ignore these messages.

Here’s what went down. I called the number. There was no warning in the alert message that I need to have my debit card number or account number handy. So, I had to call back after I dug one of those numbers out of my pocket.

The phone number does not go to a dedicated security group. Instead I have to listen to all the options and then wait for someone to answer.

I tell the representative that I got an alert and am calling because I did not look up my ID. All the representative could tell me was that a Chrome browser was used for the look up.

I asked what the WAN IP# was associated with the lookup. She couldn’t tell me. (This should have been in the alert message.)

I know my WAN IP#s (plural, because I have three ISPs coming into the house and two WiFi hotspots when mobile) or can easily get them. If the WAN IP# was the main one at home then I would know there is no nefarious activity involved. Instead, this would be associated with the password reset that I did (which brings up another issue discussed below).

The first representative thought someone else in the Bank of American might be able to tell me the what the WAN IP# was for the ID lookup.

So, I am transferred to a different representative who knows nothing more than the first. “I just don’t have that information” she says.

I asked to talk with a supervisor. After holding for six minutes, I’m told none is available, but one can call me back. Ok, I gave my number and said they can call me back if it is in this century. Bank of America is not swift on returning calls.

So, what have I learned after I followed the instructions to “please contact us immediately at 1.800.933.6262”?

1. The bank does not have a dedicated security number, even though one is led to believe there might be from the alert message.

2. Bank staff does not have adequate information to properly deal with alerts.

3. The ID lookup was probably associated with the password reset I did — without an ID lookup — so the bank’s programming is sending out false alerts.

4. The Bank of America has designed a system that cosmetically makes them look good and concerned about your security, but they are not.

After not being able to determine a) if there even was an ID look up, b) if an ID lookup was associated with a password reset,  and c) if my home WAN IP# was associated with the alert I essentially wasted 30-40 minutes.

The bank gave me general comments like “maybe someone mistyped their ID” which tell’s the customer nothing and does not provide any details to help a customer relax or take action.

The big lesson from Bank of America: Ignore Bank of America alerts, because the Bank won’t help you with them anyway.