Are you boycotting Bank of America?

Current events, Personal finance

It seems there’s a grassroots movement going on this week to boycott Bank of America. So far, according to Clark Howard’s website, some $18M worth of accounts there have been withdrawn. , for those who don’t know, is a consumer advocate, and has taken up the call asking BofA customers to back a fellow customer named Matthew Shinnick of San Francisco who earlier this week had a nightmare of an experience at Bank of America with no recourse of action.

Shinnick was arrested, put in jail, and paid $14K out-of-pocket due to the incident because BofA called the police when he tried to verify and cash a check he’d received for $2,000 for a pair of bikes he’d listed on Craigslist. It turned out that the account at BofA was real, but the check was fake. Before signing the check, Shinnick had asked BofA to verify that the funds were available, which they did, but as soon as he signed the back of the check, he unwittingly become not a victim but the second party to the crime. Shinnick has been trying to get BofA to cover the $14K in expenses he paid, but a 2004 Supreme Court case shields institutions from liability when reporting a suspected crime, and legally, BofA has done no wrong.

Shinnick was basically the victim of what’s come to be known as the Nigerian scam. He’d originally listed the bikes for $600 and attracted a buyer from Canada. After some delay, the buyer sent him a check for $2K to cover the delay, shipping costs, and any inconveniences he experienced. Shinnick apparently didn’t think that being sent a check for three times his original asking price was unreasonable.

Personally, warning bells would have popped up in my head, and as an individual, these days I’d never accept a check from a stranger as payment. All that aside, assuming that Shinnick was really just that naive and has essentially found himself fighting a large institution, it’s interesting to me that in this day and age, websites, podcasting, and other media have brought consumers so closely networked that a grassroots movement like this one could even succeed to the extent that it has.

Given that at the end of June 2006, BofA had $184B in cash and cash equivalents, it’s more likely that the media attention rather than the withdrawals will hurt BofA. But I still can’t imagine that 10 years ago, some $18M worth of accounts would have been withdrawn from BofA over the course of a mere few days in support of another consumer.

I don’t have an account at BofA, but if I did, given what happened, I might consider changing to a credit union if the choice of banks arose in the coming few months. (Of course, if I were Mr. Shinnick, I’d certainly bank elsewhere and would be completely furious and frustrated, too.)

The problem is that it’s completely unclear that another bank or financial institution wouldn’t have done the exact same thing to Matthew Shinnick, especially given the current atmosphere and increased regulations that banks now face, like the Bank Secrecy Act. Combine that with the 2004 Supreme Court ruling above, and minor personal catastrophes like Matthew Shinnick’s are bound to happen sooner or later.


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17 Feedbacks on "Are you boycotting Bank of America?"


I actually wrote about this earlier on my blog.

I’m surprised boa wouldn’t just say that they are at no fault but that they will pay his legal fees as a goodwill gesture. Seems like that would be better than what they are doing now from a pr standpoint.

Myself, well, I wouldn’t use boa for my primary bank because they are always better options that have better rates, lower fees, etc. I think I’ll “protest” by doing what I have been doing…opening up accounts with them for their bonuses and then closing them when I can.


Actually he DID find the check suspicious because the amount was higher than what he asked for. That is why he didnt just go deposit it into his account, he took it right to the bank in person, and before he endorsed it he asked “Is this check real?” And “are the funds available?”

Now any intelligent person in the world would assume that asking a bank to verify if a check is fraudulent or not isnt a crime, is it? Well they TOLD him, “yes sir, that is a real check, the funds are available” So he said “great” and endorsed it, THEN they called the flipping police.

Ok i would venture to say thats entrapment. They knew before he endorsed it that the account didnt write out that check, the account itself was flagged. They were trying to arrest someone.

The APPROPRIATE thing to do would be to say, “no sir, the account is real but it appears the account holder did not endorse this check, it looks like a fraud”

That would be it, and an innocent person wouldnt be out $14k because BofA wanted to play Columbo and catch the “bad guy”

There needs to be a way a consumer can verify if a check is a real check or not, without going to jail for it. People buy and sell things all the time, sometimes theives fake checks, and try to buy things with them. The seller should be able to check to see if the buyer is trying to steal from them. Right now apparently there isnt a way. I say screw BofA and any institution that doesnt help their customers, just hurts them.


RE: “Is this check real?”

That is not what he said at all. He asked if the account # was valid. (Which it was) And then asked if the account had enough funds to cover a $2,000 withdrawal. (Which it did)

THEN he signed the check and handed it over. That is when the teller ran it through and noticed a flag on the account to look out for fake checks.


In my opinion, simply saying any other financial institution might have done this is not a particularly good defense of BoA. Justifying unscrupulous behavior by other’s unscrupulous behavior doesn’t make it any more right. It just points out how many more are wrong.


you wrote
–Shinnick apparently didn’t think that being sent a check for three times his original asking price was unreasonable–

As I understand it, it was because Shinnick *was* suspicious about the check being written for such a large amount that he took the check to BofA(which was not his own bank)to find out if the check was good.
Maybe he didn’t know exactly what to ask the teller as far as whether the check or the account was kosher, but his intent was to see if the check was legitimate. So, he *did* think that being sent a check three times higher than he expected was unreasonable. Otherwise, he could have more easily just have deposited it into his own bank account without questioning its legitimacy.
Question. Do you think that the police would have come to arrest him at his home if he had deposited it into his own account? It would be doing the same thing he did at BofA (endorsing and presenting a check for payment), just not in person.
At least by going to the BofA branch he was making an attempt to verify the suspicious check.

Rex Djere

I too have experienced BofA’s lack of ethics. I will never do business with them again after this card is paid off. You can read of my experience here:


A list of banks that do not support illegal immigration and those that do.

The question is which banks to patronize if you want to avoid supporting illegal immigration. As this website points out, Wells Fargo and Citibank offer home loans and bank accounts to illegal immigrants. Bank of America doesn’t give home mortgages but it does open accounts and offer credit cards. Sign a petition to boycott Bank of America.

Cheshire Cat

Boycott Bank of America for giving credit cards to illegal aliens. Why are they giving credit to people that don’t even have Social Security numbers? How Un-American! What do you think about paying higher interest rates to people that may go home and default? What about people that are not traced by national credit trackers like TRW? Sounds a little unfair to us Americans. What do you think about the illegals getting special and preferential treatment over you, the American citizen?

Take your money out of the Bank of Illegal Aliens.

Join the Bank of America Boycott at

The man organizing it, William Gheen, is at


Don’t be the last American with your money in that bank!



Oh please people. This person knew this check was suspect. There is no way anyone TRIPLES the amount for a purchase simply for consideration of late payment. It was his own greed that caught him and that is what these scams count on. Bank of America just did any reasonable bank would do; they document and prosecute suspected frauds, and this man perpetrated a scam. This is the risk with the scams, someone has to take the risk of presenting the check for cash. He let greed take precident over his better judgement of what is right, and I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt with this one. He was planning on taking the money “all the way to the bank”. Its easy for John Q. Public to blame the big guy rather than holding someone responsible for their actions. That’s what’s wrong with this country, IMO.


BofA is the worst bank in so many ways. I’m not suprised by this story at all. Switch banks people!

carl lowe

If you have a fraud claim with Bank of America…..

Please ask for another investigator

besides DeMILLE BROWN !


Many years ago I was in the banking industry. Back when it was “ok” to verify funds on a check. The bank employees were given the strictest of instructions and it was IMPERATIVE to say the EXACT words as you were instructed. For Example: to verify funds on the check, if the funds were in the account and there were no holds on the amount of money being verified, you could say, “Yes, that check WOULD be good AT THIS TIME” (that means the money is there right at that moment, but does not guarantee the funds will still be there by the time the check was presented for payment). If the account had a hold on the amount of money or did not have enough in the account at all you were to say, “I’m sorry, but that check is NOT good AT THIS TIME” (keywords were making sure to ALWAYS SAY AT THIS TIME) that is how it protected the bank. The problem developed when people got wise to this and would lie and say they had another check to verify on the account and would ask to verify the other check, only this time, they would provide a lower dollar amount. If the person trying to verify funds on the account was fortunate to get a “new employee” at he bank (that was not aware of this disceptive practice), then they could potentially keep this up until they eventually obtained the approximate balance in the account by working their way backwards with the dollar amounts. On the other hand, if the person calling to verify funds on the check (unfortunately for the caller), the bank employee would recognize the person’s motive of trying to determine the balance in the bank account and was intructed to end the call as politely as possible, however before ending the call, get the check number, the name of the person calling, etc. Then if the bank employee was a decent person and loyal to the customer as well as to the bank, the employee would call the customer and notify them of the phone call they received. Because attempting to identify the balance in a bank account wheter an approximate amount or an exact amount is a violation of the Privacy Act. Eventually, one by one, banks stopped practicing this service alltogether. Nowadays, if you are EXTREMELY EXTREMELY lucky, you MIGHT POSSIBLY get a young nieve newly hired employee and the employee may verify funds only because they haven’t been told yet that they cannot provide that service anymore as it puts the bank into a potential position of violating the Privacy Act. However, I have to admit arresting someone for verifying funds on a check is by far the most extreme and definitely an unethical practice that should not be condoned for any reason. If the gentleman had to pay fees to clear his name and maintain his professional or personal integrity and reputation, then I beleieve the bank is liable for the charges. If for no other reason, than defamation of character. There are many other ways they could have handled the situation discreetly. Unless the man was holding anyone at gunpoint or becoming violent. I can see calling the police if a weapon was involved, however, calling the police because a person becomes violent is extreme….and in any situation I PERSONALLY witnessed as a CUSTOMER AND as an EMPLOYEE, the person was politely asked to leave the place of business, if at that point they refused to leave, then a call to the police was appropriate. BANK OF AMERICA SUCKS AND WILL TAKE EVERY PENNY A PERSON HAS WITHOUT LOOKING BACK. PERSONALLY I BELIEVE THEY WOULD TAKE MONEY FROM A CHILD WITH NO REMORSE. Remember I did work in the banking industry for at least 12 years and attending the education program offered by the American Banking Institute becoming extremely educated in federal bank regulations and the laws regarding banking. I received several promotions during my employment due to my performance and abilities. As a matter of fact I personally wrote the procedure manual for one of the banks I worked at. The procedure manual contained job descriptions, pay rates, pre-requisites for positions, and the actual day to day activities for EVERY position in the bank and in the end it filled up 3 1/2 binders which were 4 inches wide!!!!!!!!!!

Mickey Amsbaugh

I’m not surprised; but trust me Bank of America has done more to others that aren’t saying anything – to bad there is not a Class Action suit against bank of america for their current transactions against consumers


Bank of America has forced numerous companies into bankruptcy. We Chicagoans no longer have Jay’s Potato Chips, Maurice Lenell had to be sold, luckily they still will have a Chicago presence, and Republic Door & Window employees had one hell of a time getting what they are owed legally. To top it off, they’ve screwed former customers of LaSalle National Bank. I will never support BofA. Never!

Linda Larson

If someone knows of a way to get on a list of unsatisfied customers of BOA, please let me know.

Carmen Howieson

i have been subjected to such misery, psychological madness, hours on end on the phone on hold passed on to several departments none that i can literally say should even be working.
My husband and I have banked with them since is my husband’s very first account as a teenager with his first job ! It has been long overdue, but I’m in the process of deleting all of our accounts, two credit cards, a savings acct. checking, and a holiday account. we both have had direct deposit with them from our employers from day one., BANK OF AMERICA IS THE BIGGEST RI-PP OFF INSTITUTION EVER KNOWN !!!. THEY HAVE VERY DECEIVING PRACTICES. I HAVE A JOURNAL OF ALL THE YEARS OF SUCH AND WISH TO SHARE IT FOR EVERYONE TO SEE…AND TO MAKE THINGS WORST!!!! OUR TAX DOLLARS BAILED THEM OUT!!!!! WHY, HOW CAN THAT BE…I HAVE PAID THEM THOUSANDS IN FEES OVER THE YEARS
I would like to know where i can tell everyone everything I’ve been through.
Thank you. hope this is read

Owen Broadhurst

What Bank of America does regarding immigrants, “illegal” and otherwise, is of no concern to me. What I do find a concern is their continued reliance on usurious rates for short term loans imposed on consumers without consumer consent (“overdraft protection”) – a practice that is in technical violation of the laws Bank of America must follow, yet a practice that the banking industry driven and controlled regulatory board (OCC) permits in its willful regulatory negligence and deliberately contorted misinterpretation of applicable law.

Boycott Bank of America, boycott all companies that provide revenue streams for Bank of America, boycott all companies that have partnerships with Bank of America — Continue this boycott until such time as Bank of America: 1) implements an “opt-in” procedure for overdraft protection, 2) stops manipulating check and debit processing order for purposes of maximizing overdraft occurrences in a single day, 3) reduces said fee to rates comparable other such loan instruments, and 4) reimburses all and any customers ever so charged.