Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Simple Test:

The bank statement arrives in the mail every month. Does it have your name at the top of every page? If it does not, then stop trying to come into the bank to access that account: it is not yours to query, withdraw from, or transfer out of. If you are listed as "PoD" on an account, that means that you can access it once the other person is deceased. "PoD" stands for"payable on death" and does not give you any rights to the account prior to that day. Nobody can open a bank account "for" you: ridiculous concept. Here's another quick test: were you present when the account was opened? Did you present your driver's license, a second form of identification, your address, social security number, and date of birth? Did you have to sign certain documents that simultaneously show your proof of consent to open an account and make a record of your signature, should the bank ever need it? If you have no recollection of going through that process, chances are about 100% that you are not a signer on said account. The only way somebody can open an account in your name is if they have PoA for you, power of attorney. And if that was the case, it is highly unlikely that your able-bodied, able-minded self is going to wander into the bank to use said account. Power of attorney is given when people no longer have the capacity to act on their own behalf: I've never personally seen it apply to a college student. Generally it's used by middle-aged daughters of ailing, aging parents. Here's a third test: look at the debit card that you are trying to present. Is the name printed across the bottom in those raised, metallic letters your name? If there is a photo, is it a picture of you? If the answer to either of those is no, then you are making a grave, grave mistake in trying to present it to a bank teller as your own. Now I'm going to assume that this is not really your mistake so much as your boneheaded parent's. Some idiots will open an account in their name and hand the debit card and pin to their kid to use. Why? Search me. It could be they want total control over the account, but opening a joint account would give them the same level of access, and--hey!-- not be illegal at the same time. Or maybe said parent is just too confused by the fact that at 17 or 18, their little Cindy-Lou is old enough to have legal rights over a bank account. Either way, do NOT come into the bank with your parent's debit card, complaining that the ATM is out of order, that your PIN stopped working, or what have you. Because if you are a 6-foot tall college freshman with a beard and the card is issued to a one Linda X born in 1960, then we have a major problem on our hands. The teller is not "being mean" to you, or being "rude". What you are trying to do is flagrantly illegal, your parents are idiots, and what you are trying to do would get a bank teller fired. Give your mama's debit card back to her, say "thanks but no thanks, Ma", open your own damn bank account like the legal adult that you are, and get a shiny new debit card with your own name on it. It ain't rocket science, folks.

And one more thing. Do not ever, ever, write a check for funds that are not currently in your account. Do not think, "If I write Friday's date on the check, they won't be able to cash it until I get paid!", or "It should take at least three days for them to get this check in the mail, I should have money by then." It just doesn't work that way. Once you give someone a check, s/he can cash it at any point, regardless of what date you wrote. Also: writing "do not cash until: x" on the memo line doesn't do a thing. For some reason when I mail my doctor's bills, the checks get cashed within two days, even though they're being sent to another state. My Netflix sure don't come that fast, and they're only coming from Richmond, an hour and a half away. Go figure. Here's the bald fact: if you don't have the money in your account when you write the check, then you are writing a bad check. And you have absolutely no recourse if and when that check bounces. Now everybody writes bad checks on occasion (at least most of us-- thank God for overdraft protection), but usually it's a mistake, some bad math, an oops. It's only the people who are knowingly, consciously, intentionally writing a bad check and think it's OK that drive me nuts. I had a kid come in awhile back who had run out of checks. I made the usual suggestion: let's order you some checks for future use and make you a money order for whatever check you need to present immediately. (Because nobody ever orders checks until they need to write one.) Problem was, he didn't have the money in his account to make the money order: he had planned on writing a check and post-dating it for when he'd have the funds. And he didn't understand why we couldn't make him a money order with the same concept: can't the bank give me a money order now and just wait until my account has money in it to charge me? Uh, NO.

This is why I grind my teeth in my sleep, honestly.


Bex said...

oh yeah I almost forgot. Don't cash that check I am going to send you from my aunt's cousins dog until the friday after the one to the left of next tuesday.


Benjamin said...

And, of course, the old-check- written-with-mud-on-a-piece-of- bark trick .... Jeez!

Rachel said...

Oh honey. Sounds like a total shittay day.

Polly Gamwich said...

But you're not bitter, eh?

That's too funny. I had no idea the frustrations of bank workers! I'm in technology so I just annoy the bank workers myself! But I'm not a thief!! like so many of the stories you've told - good grief!

Happy Thanksgiving.

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