I don’t have a checking account anymore since what happened with Union Bank of California. Since I ‘ve had troubles with local banks, I think I’ll try an internet only bank this time. After all, the less you deal with them the fewer hassles they can give you, right?? Right?? I searched on Bankrate.com for internet-only banks and the best-looking deal was to open a checking account with Bank of Internet USA. They offer 3.4% interest on a checking account, with a minimum balance of $5000.
I went through their online application process, then on the last screen told me that they could not complete the application because they need more information from me. I got 3 duplicate emails from “No Reply”:
…Prior to proceeding, for your protection, we must validate the information you provided. In order to finalize your application, you will need to provide the following list of items before we are able to continue with the new account process:
- Copy of your current Driver’s License
- Copy of your Social Security Card
- W-9 Form (available on our website under HELP & SUPPORT tab, click on BANK FORMS)
- Most recent Utility Bill (must be original copy) to verify residential address
You may fax the above items to
Application Review Department
Bank of Internet USA
Seems like steep requirements, but they are an internet bank after all, and cannot meet you in person. The strange thing is, who gets original copies of their utility bills anymore? The same people who would use an internet-only bank? Not likely. Anyway I faxed them all of these things including a copy of my “original” utility bill, which I doctored to make look “original” through fax.
I did not hear from them for several days. There was no contact info in the emails they sent me. Their only contact email on the website was email@example.com. I don’t expect that I would get a reply from a generic email address, so I called their 800 number, and after a huge phone tree, got the option for checking the status on a new account application. It said to email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. I did. It bounced back undeliverable.
At this point, I imagine that Bank of Internet is 3 guys in a windowless rented office in the back of some industrial complex. The first guy, let’s call him Greg, has a cousin in Nigeria who is sitting in an internet cafe when he says “There’s got to be a better way to make money than this… I know! I have a cousin in America. I’ll have him open a bank for us, and then people will just send us money! We’ll call it ‘Bank of Internet'”!! The second guy, Gary, took some computer classes is community college and offered to build the website. The third guy, Andy, his brother owns the industrial complex. Andy’s Mom recorded the voice mail phone tree.
I sent the following email to email@example.com:
I have not heard from you since faxing my documentation for my checking account application. I hope you got it. I have some other questions for you too:
1. Why does your voice mail system tell me to email firstname.lastname@example.org to check the status of my checking account application? Why can’t someone help me with that on the phone?
2. Why do emails sent to email@example.com bounce back as undeliverable?
3. When you send emails, why are they from “No Reply” rather than “Bank of Internet”?
4. Was your fax machine out of paper last Friday?
5. Does the founder of this bank have a cousin in Nigeria?
I was impressed that they bothered to reply several of days later, but Victor was not exactly helpful:
1. You can talk to customer service for status of an checking account application.
2.If you have questions contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
3. What emails are your refering to?
4. To my knowledge the fax machine was not out of paper
5. I cannot confirm or deny if the founder of the bank has a cousin in Nigeria. That is personal information.
It doesn’t seem like Bank of Internet will take my money. I won’t say that it’s a scam, but they are certainly not professional and cannot get their act together if they can’t process a simple new account application.