I’m not sure if my problems with Bank of American are the same as with other banks. I’ve been with B of A for over 40 years, and I have lots of money on deposit with them. But in the past 5 years, things have gotten more difficult. I have a debit card and three credit cards. I don’t use them very often because I live in Mexico. I tried to use my credit cards to pay by phone bills (Telcel and Telmex) but the Bank constantly rejects the use of the cards. More recently, I’ve been trying to pay for purchases from the U.S., and the Bank keeps finding that there is “suspicious activity.” It insists that I telephone them. When I do (and use my password), it wants to “verify” me. This requires the bank to have the ability to send a text message or a phone call to my mobile cellphone, except that my cell phone is a Mexican Telcel, and the Bank has no system to telephone to an international phone. So I’m blocked. The associates apologize profusely every time but there is nothing that they can do.
The last associate suggested that I phone through my Bank app. I did that, but things were no better. The only solution she could see was for me to go to a banking center, all of which are in the U.S., far away from me.
I’m not quite sure why Bank of America has such problems. I used to use the Wells Fargo system when my mother was alive and I had to do her banking for her. In those days, they weren’t so insistent on mobile phones. I also do money transfer with Vanguard, which works fine. Vanguard has you do a voice verification, and once you’re on their system, it always works. “At Vanguard, my voice is my password,” you say, and the recording system identifies you and off you go. Why can’t B of A use a system like that?
In the good old days, the Bank would have you enter your own passwords to special questions they would ask you, like, “Where did you go in the summer as a child?” or ”What was your first school?” You could put anything into the system that you liked. For instance, you could make your summer place “The moon,” and as long as you were consistent, they let you in. For some reason, though, the Bank became hung up on mobile phones – and only AMERICAN phones. There are a lot of gringos in Mexico and yankees in Europe. How can you expect them all to have American phones?
I do have a Mexican bank, and their verification system is consistent although cumbersome. They give you a “Gemalto” token. When you get on their internet space, the bank sends you an 8 digit password, and you punch that into your Gemalto. Then you click one more time, and the Gemalto token reads you a new 8 digit number, which you enter on the internet screen. If you do it right, the internet will admit you. The trouble is, every time you want to do something, you are forced to go through the same trick. It can be mighty slow, although it does work, and you don’t get hung up on lengthy telephone calls and apologies for the delay.
The Mexican system would work if they wouldn’t insist on replicating the same system over and over again every time for every step you’re on. And the Bank system would work if they could send you a password over your credit card. They shouldn’t insist on a cell phone, much less a cell phone that’s really only good in the U.S After all, why can’t they text you over any international phone? I don’t know if other gringos here in Mexico suffer the same trials as I do. I do know that the insistence on “security” make it virtually impossible to do business. Very soon, the “security” problem is going to make it difficult to transact business.