At my wit's end with FirstBank  

 

Jules
(@Jules)
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March 15, 2012 2:43 pm  

Arggggggggh! More and more often they shut off my Visa debit card without even contacting me. It's always for 'security reasons'-- I use my card online, etc. Seems like it happens every month or so now. The bank doesn't even call me before cutting off the card. Last month they shut it off and it was a week before I found out. I have many recurring bills paid through this card and sometimes when the bank disables my card it causes those other payments to bounce... and I end up having to pay fines. Arrrrrrrrrrgh!

Yesterday I tried to use it at the gas station-- declined-- called the bank again today (another 20 minutes of my life wasted), and they'd shut down my card because of a small charge by Skype-- a recurring monthly charge-- I think they'd even shut it down and verified it with me in the past for this specific charge. Hello???

I don't know what to do. Are stateside banks just as bad these days? Should I shut down my FirstBank account and instead use a stateside bank?

I used to have an account with Banco Popular, can't say it was any better.


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SunnyCaribe
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March 15, 2012 3:10 pm  

I hear you. They're not very easy to use anymore. They've fallen a long way since the chase days.

So, too, has Bank of St Croix, in my experience, although we don't have any cards with them.

More and more I am using stateside banks for my banking and, so far, no unforseen hiccups. The one I use mainly has far better service and almost no fees for anything, and they reimburse atm/ath fees if the vendor or local bank charges any. Free means free.


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Bombi
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March 15, 2012 3:17 pm  

The skype charge shuts down my !st bank card to, I moved it to a Citi card

optimist with low expectations on STX


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speee1dy
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March 15, 2012 3:36 pm  

i use bank of america and bank of stx- no problems with either


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trainwreck82
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March 15, 2012 4:52 pm  

If you're on STT or STJ go to Merchant's Commercial Bank. Very little known but they are excellent, I've never even waited in a line before, never had a problem with them.


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Jules
(@Jules)
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March 15, 2012 6:31 pm  

I also have a business account with Merchant's Commercial. They have been pretty good-- I never seem to make it by during their business hours though... I wonder if they have the same electronic verification issues that FirstBank has? Perhaps I'll ask Ro-- maybe I should move my personal account to that bank.


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vasecs
(@vasecs)
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March 15, 2012 6:45 pm  

It is this very reason that I kept all electronic accounts thru Regions in Birmingham to debit/pay bills on line etc. I have zero problems. I was tired of being treated like a criminal when trying to remove MY money! First Bank is the worst. Scotia's people are nice and pleasant, but not up to going thru the hassle again. I find it better to keep all essential business "Off" island.


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stt007
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March 15, 2012 8:18 pm  

I had the same frustrations when USAir switched my cards from Bank of America to Barclays. Same security crap. So i dumped Barclays and switched them back to bank of America with none of the shut down problems! Barclays was shutting me every couple of months, and always when I was at the cash register at Kmart or Plaza Extra. The people behind me in line always seemed to appreciate that kind of thing......waiting while I am on the phone for 3 or 4 minutes approving the purchase.


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stjohnjulie
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March 16, 2012 9:31 am  

I have an account with Merchants and their debit card is often declined at place I shop online and on St. Thomas. I think they use the same kind of verification process. When I asked them about it, they said that any time I try to use the card where the merchant has had fraud, or suspected fraud, the card will get declined. But they did say, if I call when that happens, they can put it through. But forcing it through this way will not put the merchant on the 'ok list' either. It will take several times of forcing it before it will stop being declined at the specific merchant. Thing is, they have to actually be open, and you have to have a cashier who is willing to wait for you to do all of that. Some of the places that the Merchants card regularly/always gets declined; Cost U Less, Pricesmart, CVS.com, USPS.com

And on another note, I DID have fraud that went through on the Merchant card. I had two charges to the card before I caught it. Be on the look out for any charges from Digital Star. They tend to either be for $74.95 or $149.95, but it is a huge scam. Did some digging online after I found the charges to see who this company is. They aren't a company at all. Although I did find a website that was basically just a home page, lots of empty and broken links to other pages within the site.


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beachy
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March 16, 2012 12:21 pm  

We have the issue woth Citibank credit cards. They view the VI transactions as 'foreign', and have done so for many years, even when the mailing address was stx. Calling only deals with the particular transaction, and the same thing can happen the following month on the same item. Even now, the phone # they call to advise of a fraud alert is our stx home phone...and the items they deny are things like WAPA, and Plaza, places we use the card at all the time. We kept them because of the American airlines miles, but are going to be using these cards less and less.


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JulieKay
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March 16, 2012 3:14 pm  

I have zero issues with my Citibank AA miles card on STX? I use it all the time - It's actually my favorite "go-to" card. The charges aren't marked as "foreign" either? :S

Years ago I had a Chase card that the number was stolen, and fraudulent airline tickets purchased with it. After that bit of fraud, I was on a "watch list" for forever...apparently I was considered a risky cardholder. I had the same situation where they would turn it off if I blinked wrong at the grocery store. It took a good 3 - 4 years before they "trusted" me enough to not shut off the card left and right. It's a real pain to be on their fraud alert list.

"This is your world. Shape it or someone else will." ~Gary Lew


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Neil
 Neil
(@Neil)
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March 17, 2012 2:08 am  

When we first moved to StX everyone said to get a local bank account. In retrospect it was unnecessary and only exposed us to some of the shoddy service others have also experienced. We also kept our mainland acct and a cc and had no trouble using them on island. And now with online deposit available at most mainland banks, I see no need to have an island account.

On a related note, I never had a problem with having a stateside cellphone number either.


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speee1dy
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March 17, 2012 10:56 am  

the only reason to have a local bank would be to pay local contractors. makes their life easier if they dont have to wait up to 2 weeks for a check to clear.


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divinggirl
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March 17, 2012 11:15 am  

the only reason to have a local bank would be to pay local contractors. makes their life easier if they dont have to wait up to 2 weeks for a check to clear.

I agree and many of them require payment from a local bank.


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HappyFace
(@HappyFace)
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March 17, 2012 12:29 pm  

I have" NEVER" had a problem with the Bank of ST Croix! There are certain days and times when there are long lines so you plan ahead. I have Checking/Savings/Cd's/and a Visa ATM. FDIC.


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Iris Tramm
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March 17, 2012 1:03 pm  

I have" NEVER" had a problem with the Bank of ST Croix! There are certain days and times when there are long lines so you plan ahead. I have Checking/Savings/Cd's/and a Visa ATM. FDIC.

Reply to promote. Agreed. I wish they'd take the $1K daily limit off the debit card and that they'd keep the Gallows Bay lobby open later in the day, but other than that, service has been without complaint. And I'd complain.


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OldTart
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March 17, 2012 2:21 pm  

I had a most peculiar and frustrating experience with FirstBank recently. I was given a cheque drawn on First Bank. I bank with another institution but of course could have gone to First Bank to cash the cheque or deposited it into my Scotia account. However, my rent was due so I endorsed the cheque to my landlady who also banks at First, and gave her cash for the additional balance due.

She apparently put it in the drop box at First and a week later it was returned to her via certified mail with a notice saying that they couldn't accept 3rd party cheques in the drop box. She wanted to give it back to me but since I'd already endorsed it over to her I suggested she take it down to the bank and personally deposit it over the counter. A few days later she came back again with the cheque and said that they wouldn't accept the cheque period because it was a 3rd party cheque. Now bear in mind that this cheque was written on a First account and was being deposited to a First account. So, I took the cheque down to First myself and spoke to a Manager who took me to another Manager who then said that only if BOTH my landlady and I came to the bank together could the cheque be deposited into her account. It was futile asking for an explanation as there wasn't one to be had - it was just "not our policy"! What they DID let me do was cash the damned cheque and then immediately deposit the cash to my landlady's account.

I've never come across anything like this and on several occasions over the years have deposited third party cheques to my Scotia account which weren't even written on a Scotia account. Total baloney. Hard to find logic in the illogical. :S


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Jules
(@Jules)
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March 17, 2012 7:03 pm  

That is indeed baffling and frustrating.

Here's another 'not our policy' eye-roller:

I had a few checks to deposit into my personal checking account. I also wanted to withdraw cash. I filled out a deposit slip from the back of my checkbook-- the checkbook I purchased from the bank-- their approved checks. I listed the checks by number, filled in the subtotal field, and then entered a dollar amount below that in the "less cash received" space, and filled in the 'total to deposit' field.

My turn came. The bank associate looked down at my deposit slip, looked up at me, looked down at the slip again, looked at me again, and said (accusingly, scornfully) "What's THIS?". Puzzled, I leaned over to see what she was pointing to. It was the 'less cash received' line.

"What's what?" I asked.

"This" (pointing to the 'less cash received' line)

I too pointed to the line and read carefully and slowly "Less cash received. That is the amount of cash I wish to receive from my checking account."

She looked down, up, down, and up again, and said "We don't do that".

Me: "Do what??"

Her: "less cash received"

Me: "I don't understand. You don't allow me to withdraw my money from my checking account using the forms you required me to purchase?"

Her: "You have to write a check for the cash"

Ridiculous.


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SunnyCaribe
(@SunnyCaribe)
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March 17, 2012 7:10 pm  

Hahaha! Yes, I remember now that Bank of St Croix was very warmly embraced when they opened simply because they were the first (and apparently to this day only) bank to understand "less cash received." SMH


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OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
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March 17, 2012 7:12 pm  

Baffling. I have been given (by a friend who works at First) the name and the direct number of "the man" to call and plan to do so on Monday. There are no stupid questions, just stupid people ... and sometimes one feels as though one is surrounded!


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