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article imageArmy reservist battles with Bank of America over debit charges

By Leigh Goessl     Apr 5, 2012 in Business
Utica - A U.S. Army reservist is struggling with the Bank of America over fraudulent charges he says were made to his bank account after he used his debit card.
The amount in question is over $25,000.
John McDevitt was serving in Afghanistan when he went on two weeks leave in Nov. 2010. A self-described history buff, he had always wanted to visit Athens, Greece, and decided Athens was the place where he'd spend his free time.
Little did he know that trip would end up costing a lot more than he'd intended.
During the course of his trip he went out one evening and used his debit card to purchase a couple of drinks at a nightclub called Palia Plaka. What he didn't know was those charges were inflated to $25,243.71.
McDevitt said he was unaware of the discrepancy until he got back to base and checked his account and saw additional charges, six in total made on three dates, for Nov. 12, Nov. 19 and Nov. 22, 2010, each for several thousand dollars.
According to ABC News, he notified the Bank of America on Nov. 29, 2010, and the bank issued a temporary credit to his account on Dec. 3.
However, the bank took the money back stating "no error had occurred", and essentially the charges were found to be legit. On Dec. 9, 2010 the bank sent a letter (shown to ABC News) which indicated the bank had "received the signed sales drafts from the merchant reflecting your signature and card imprint." Further stating "We found that the transaction activity in question was authorized and posted, or billed, correctly to your account."
McDevitt denies the signatures are his and reportedly there is no record of initial receipts he did authorize to be made on his debit card.
The bank now says McDevitt must come to a resolution with the merchant in Greece. In May 2011 Bank of America sent him a letter stating, "Our attempts to resolve this matter with the merchant have been unsuccessful. We have exhausted all our available options. We can only suggest that you explore other avenues of recourse to obtain a refund and/or come to a more equitable solution with the merchant."
As he battles for his money, this has prompted him to join the Occupy movement in Utica, reported WKTV News.
Bank of America has had a lot of bad press in recent times over its decisions which include controversial account fees, poor record keeping of settled accounts, a wrongful reporting of customer death which led to a credit nightmare for one very much alive customer, and mishandling of foreclosure records which left some individuals with damaged property, some of which had never even been BofA customers.
The Consumerist noted BofA's poor record of customer treatment stating, "it's never surprising to hear that they [Bank of America] continue to not learn from their mistakes and treat customers like poo."
WKTV reported a Bank of America spokesperson said, "I can't discuss Mr. McDevitt's account due to customer privacy concerns. However, I can tell you that with any fraud claim, there is a very thorough review process we go through to verify its authenticity."
Suzanne Lynch, Director of Utica College's Economic Crime Management Masters Program, reviewed the correspondences and believes McDevitt's claim of fraud, however, she noted BofA did everything correctly under the law, WKTV reported in a separate article on the situation.
At this time it remains to be seen whether or not McDevitt will ever see his money, but at this time it appears Bank of America has decided to wash its hands of the matter and leave it up to their customer to fix.
One of the issues McDevitt, and others in his situation face, is that the U.S. laws regarding debit and credit laws differ. With credit cards, a consumer is only held liable to $50, whereas a debit card varies depending on when it was reported, and what the ultimate findings are after the bank investigates, as explains. If believed not to be fraudulent, the burden falls back to the consumer.
More about Bofa, Bank of America, john mcdevitt, debit charges, Credit
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