Citibank Had A Program To Take Money From Customers?

from the positive-balance-means-it's-ours dept

A few years back, that I accidentally added an extra zero to a bill I paid for phone service. The company automatically credited the account, and a quick call got them to send a check with the overpaid amount. I know others who have accidentally paid a bill twice, or simply overpaid a bill because they didn’t have the exact amount of the bill handy and wasn’t able to look up the specifics. In most cases, the companies in question would just credit the difference. However, it turns out that Citibank had a different idea. It apparently decided that if you overpaid a bill, you really were just donating free money to Citibank executives’ bonus fund. The company actually had a “sweeping” software that would scan customer accounts for a positive credit and simply wipe it off their account, transferring the money to Citibank’s general account. This wasn’t just a small thing either — it went on for more than a decade, and the whistleblower who brought it up was fired. And, if you thought I was joking about the executive bonus fund, an executive from Citibank told investigators: “the sweep program could not be stopped because it would reduce the executive bonus pool.” Of course, now the state of California has “convinced” Citibank to pay back all that money, plus some interest.

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Companies: citibank

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Comments on “Citibank Had A Program To Take Money From Customers?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

The number of scams that originate with senior management of major corporations leads one to conclude that the real problem is not with the executives that initiate the scams but with law enforcement personnel that for one reason or another simply fail to arrest such people, give them their prep walk, and then fail to prosecute them with a long term rigorous social reeducation program.

Nancy Savage says:

Re: Why not arrest them

The creators of the scam that has ruined our economy(be-
sides the “war”) are the CEO’s and board members of the
financials along with the Real Estate flippers and
developers. They should be prosecuted and serve time
for playing with people’s lives. My sense is that
perhaps they are supporters of certain politician’s
campaigns and lobbyists who give the latter very nice

Haywood says:

Not the only theft they do

I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure that most late charges are BS, they get it in time but don’t credit your account until the post it. I’ve countered that by only having accounts with banks I can visit in person. That still doesn’t eliminate it entirely, I had a bill due the 30th paid it in person on the 29th @ 11:32 & still had a late charge posted. They quickly removed it when I complained, but wouldn’t admit to anything, stated: it was being removed because I was a loyal customer.

Joel says:

Re: Not the only theft they do

Then there goes your “one-time courtesy” refund. So, the next time that something happens, and it’s your fault, they will tell you that they can’t do anything because they’ve already given you your courtesy refund. And also look out for companies like, if you’re late on a payment they can increase your APR and disqualify you for any promotions.

Sneeje says:

Bank error

Actually, I once had a bank add a zero to one of my checks written to my insurance company. Two amazing things: a) the insurance company never saw it as a problem, b) the bank took six months to resolve the problem (including seven overdraft charges as a result of the overage), in spite of me having the original check (and carbon copy) showing what it was written for. And, the problem occurred a week before my wedding. That was fun.

The bank blamed the insurance company and the insurance company blamed the bank. The insurance company also had a copy of their deposit slip which showed the proper amount.

Thanks, ____ of America.

Elohssa says:


I didn’t think I could get more cynical. Thanks again, Techdirt.

And seriously guys, we need to punish Citibank hard on this one. I’m talking to every person I encounter for the rest of the day on this.

Another tibbit many ppl don’t realize. Financial companies will often hold money transfers an extra day or two, and soak up interest, which they don’t share. Savvy customers can get a taste, if they scream at the right ppl.

TW Burger (profile) says:

Financial Institution SOP

This is fairly standard for most financial institutions. When working as a consultant for several banks a number of years ago I would regularly hear of many similar slush funds and other fiduciary indiscretions through which employees would line their pockets.

This was frowned upon by the executives at the national and regional level (these petty account pilfering escapades were always local at the time when everything was done by hand) until a centralized, electronic banking system made it possible to eliminate local indiscretions completely and now they seem to do it on a very efficient international scale.

The old standard was to empty the dormant accounts at the end of the year and use the proceeds for the office Christmas party. There are far worse examples I know of, but these cases are hear-say and possibly libelous and would scare you into keeping your money in the mattress.

Watch your accounts and, specifically, watch the service fees charged very carefully. I have caught several questionable charges over the years that would have cost several hundred dollars when added up. Most often it’s simply a mistake, but if it’s to the bank’s benefit it will not be corrected until you complain.

Pissedoff says:

Citibank Sweep

This is the work of greedy corporate scumbags,the same people and companies who sit around dreaming of fees and terms and restrictions on your accounts that are specifically designed to do the same thing….STEAL $$$$ from you.
The Federal Govt lead watchdog for this industry should force them to relinquish all of their credit card business to other parties fine them 500 million dollars and make them apologize in prime time on every major network for being the foul wretched creatures that they are.

August West says:

My Experience with Citi

I got a credit card from them. You know, “Transfer your existing balances to this card and pay 6% interest”. I did. I signed up for the email notification. They never sent the notifications. I tried to set up autopay but could not for reasons I cannot remember. I paid them every month anyway. I would call them, they said they would fix it and send me notifications. They never did. Finally I forgot a month, and they jacked me up to the ridiculous default rate 23% 29% I forget which. THEN I start to get my email notifications. Starting with the “your rate is now at 20 some percent” one. I went ballistic, but their customer service department insisted they had been sending me the emails. I paid it off as fast as I could, even to the point of leaving the bank account scary low. I got all the cards paid off, and will NEVER use Citibank for ANYTHING again. Steer clear folks, they are theives.

Mike Field (Australia) says:

Re: My Experience with Citi

I wholeheartedly support these comments. I got screwed to the tune of $4.5K by Citibank in Australia for defaulting (when out of work) on payments on a RediCredit account I’d had with them for about twenty years — despite being insured with their OWN insurance company at THEIR request for just that very situation.

I would never EVER bank with the bastards again.

Anonymous Coward says:

What do you expect?

This is a CREDIT CARD COMPANY, they rip people off all day long, its the business. You want to fix this, vote with your money, tell your friends about it. Cancel you Citi Bank cards, take out a consolidation loan from your bank, and throw your credit cards in the wood chipper.

Your asking a greedy bunch of turds to act human, not gonna happen. You have the vote, its your money. Debit cards work great, and you dont get jacked with rate hikes, and crazy crap like this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Yeah, I remember one time getting my math off slightly and depositing money $5 under what I was supposed to get at a local ATM. Well, apparently Wells Fargo didn’t see it fit to correct my mistake and put in the money I was supposed to get. Strangely, I never heard one peep out of them for giving up an extra $5, imagine that.

Yet when I overdrafted, you’re damn straight they sent the dogs after me, and eventually ended up taking $400 from me even after telling me that my account was closed, when I angrily told them I wanted my account closed, and thus overdrafting me even more when another charge went through that was made almost a month earlier. They said that the account was closed.. yet, they kept the account open, apparently to ensure that other charges would go through (that they were supposedly unware of).

Now, as I understand it, if a transaction is unable to go through, then it bounces and the business is the one that’s supposed to come after me, but instead, the white knight that Wells Fargo is, they took the burden on themselves and charged me $150 on top of a $50 charge. God I love banks.

Jeremy McMillan says:

Financial deregulation and lawlessness

All of this could be spared if we hadn’t adopted delusional Libertarian/Republican deregulation policy at all levels of government. The subprime mess is really a failure to regulate the bond insurance industry or the insurance industry called “swaps” contracts sold 100% over the counter between only very very large financial parties. The amount of money sloshing around in large scale swindles just emboldens people to pull stunts like this positive balance sweep, or claiming that it was impossible to stop defrauding people because of executive incentives.

It’s the same old excuse: markets are the answer for everything. Just go find some history detailing things that happened right before a major economic reckoning. This gets tired real fast. Wake up. Doing business with an 800 pound gorilla is dangerous. If you must do so to survive: congratulations you have become a slave.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Financial deregulation and lawlessness

All of this could be spared if we hadn’t adopted delusional Libertarian/Republican deregulation policy at all levels of government.

What they have practiced is “selective” deregulation. In other words, they get rid of regulations that aren’t in big business’ favor (like consumer protection, etc.) and keep the ones that are (like those that protect them from competition, for example). Try starting your own “bank” without their permission and see how fast you wind up arrested. The people from eGold learned that lesson the hard way.

It's a State Law Man! says:


I guess each state has their own laws on this but I know in Kentucky and West Virginia state laws force banks to send money from dormant accounts to the state. It’s called escheatment.. ironic eh?

In general if a customer has had no contact with the bank in 3 years the state gets your money. You or your heirs can reclaim it but you have to go to the state not the bank to get it.

If I’m not mistaken it also applies to safe deposit boxes so don’t think you can just leave your stuff at the bank and go get it 20 years later.

The laws are supposed to prevent exactly what Citibank did.

Thomas (profile) says:

Plain theft

If an individual was doing this he would be in jail in short order. However, corporations feel they are above any law unless they get caught, and even then they think the solution is to pay off the regulators. Maybe the bank regulators in California get a cut of the proceeds? With all the possibilities of stealing via computer programs in the bank systems, it’s only surprising they are not mysteriously charging people fees every month.

Anonymous Coward says:

Heres the rub . . .

“If an individual was doing this he would be in jail in short order. However, corporations feel they are above any law “

Corporation arent people, the dont “think” or “feel” anything. They are simply a shell that provides cover for the actions of individuals. This is a perfect example of “everyone” was stealing, so who exactly do you blame. The CEO will say of couse he “had no idea” these things were going on and eventually some Jr Exec in accounting will end up “the ring leader” and plead to a misdomeanor and everyone will begin working on new ways to steal.

Corporations are not people, they are what people use to hide behind in order to behave in horribly unethical ways and still be able to look themselves in the mirror.

Anonymous User says:

Another reason to avoid banks

Glad I stopped using banks a few months ago – finally had it with all the overdraft fees, and hearing about stuff like this going on makes me more sure I made the right choice. Prepaid debit cards like the ones you can get at are great – transactions go through much faster (for instance, I get my paycheck direct deposited onto it, and it gets on there a full day earlier than it used to in my old bank account), and there are no overdraft fees. You can only spend what you put on there, so it’s a natural limiter and makes managing your money a bit easier.

Only $10 a month, which is a lot better than having a bunch of $30 overdraft fees. And you can get a savings account with them too, though I haven’t done it yet. Check it out if you want to get away from the banks, you won’t regret it!

Andrey says:

City Bank Error BS

I do have a student loan with them and I have noticed that if I pay them twice a month or double the amount of my scheduled payment than my interest deduction magically doubles as well. I did try to convince them that this is not the way it should be, but up to date I have not seen a credit back.
Here are the ecsamples:
Payment Due Date: 04/22/2008

Loan Type Loan Number Interest Rate1 Principal Balance Payoff Balance2 Payment Received
(Principal + Interest + Late Fees3) Amount Due
Consolidation 38 3.375% $15,775.50 $15,827.87 $80.35 $40.94 $103.90

Consolidation 39 3.375% $16,741.85 $16,797.42 $85.26 $43.45 $110.26

Totals $32,517.35 $32,625.29 $165.61 $84.39 $0.00 $214.16

Total Payment Received: $250.00
Minimum Payment Due2: $214.16
Payment Due Date: 04/22/2008
Payment Due if paid after 05/07/2008: $227.01
For this month I have paid a litle over or $250 (insted of $214 as scheduled), the total interest was $84.39. Bellow is the payment for $500 during single month, check it out how much interest they charged for that month:

Payment Due Date: 07/22/2008

Loan Type Loan Number Interest Rate1 Principal Balance Payoff Balance2 Payment Received
(Principal + Interest + Late Fees3) Amount Due
Consolidation 38 3.375% $15,339.01 $15,375.79 $178.30 $64.28 $103.90

Consolidation 39 3.375% $16,278.62 $16,317.65 $189.21 $68.21 $110.26

Totals $31,617.63 $31,693.44 $367.51 $132.49 $0.00 $214.16

Total Payment Received: $500.00
Minimum Payment Due2: $214.16
Payment Due Date: 07/22/2008
Payment Due if paid after 08/06/2008: $227.01

As you can see some how interest doubled – $500 total payment and interest charged was $132.49

And another exsample where I made payment for $750:

Payment Due Date: 06/22/2008

Loan Type Loan Number Interest Rate1 Principal Balance Payoff Balance2 Payment Received
(Principal + Interest + Late Fees3) Amount Due
Consolidation 38 3.375% $15,517.31 $15,575.98 $258.19 $81.42 $103.90

Consolidation 39 3.375% $16,467.83 $16,530.09 $274.02 $86.37 $110.26

Totals $31,985.14 $32,106.07 $532.21 $167.79 $0.00 $214.16

Total Payment Received: $700.00
Minimum Payment Due2: $214.16
Payment Due Date: 06/22/2008
Payment Due if paid after 07/07/2008: $227.01

I have paid $167.79 just for the iterest alon, in reality if I would just pay the minimum $214 and change than I would only pay around $85 in interest.

Xavier says:

Re: City Bank Error BS

You should review your loan documents. In some cases prepayments are applied to interest, not principal. Typically this is legal *if* they provide a mechanism to pay down principal. Basically, that means if you send a check for $200 when your payment due is $180, that extra $20 will go towards future interest. Generally you have to send in a separate check with a note saying “apply this to principal” to get them to do so.

Hunter says:

City Bank Error BS

I think I did post my comment about 6 month ago on a article similar like this. So let me make it strait once again. Don’t trust in any Bank! When you have to put your feet in any bank, be aware because behind the smiling faces hiding the evil who will screw you left and right. Don’t keep your money in any bank! Keep only the bare minimum what you need to pay your automatic deductions if you have any otherwise keep nothing. Buy a safe and keep your money in. No any BS charges and you have access to your money 24/7 if you have your own safe. These suckers are one of your worst enemy, they steal your money with they crooked law the way you not even notice!

Andrey says:

City Bank Error BS

There is checkmark on each statement that I do mark to apply extra toward principle, and as you can see on all statements the set amount is $214 and change. Even if they would apply extra towards future interest or to advance payment than my future statement should reflect lover amount that indeed happened once when I did not check that box.
Long story short, just to make sure I did check initial statements that I would normally get and would reflect interest form payment made to due day and it happens to be around $40 for each loan. Now when I am looking to the next scheduled payment (per statement) and how my payment was applied, I can see that each time they get my check before dead line in most cases at least a week, meaning my interest should be lowered from last payment made to the next actual payment, instead I see that this amount magically increases based on the amount they recived.

Anonymous Coward says:

Bank of America

Another one that I want to point out is The Bank of America. Friend of mine had an account with them and she had to go to the other country for some kind of assignment that should of last for 6 month, so she left $50 on the account knowingly that that bank charges some amount each month (about $5 monthly fees) if she would keep less than $400 and this account would not be active for that time. Anyhow her assignment lasted over a year when she got back she found collection notice for over $1000 from this bank. Apparently, bank did what they say they would collect that money as maintenance fees and once the account was empty they started to deduct overdraft fees $7 per day and on each 3rd day they would charge additional $34. I know that she tried to negotiate with bank to lower that amount but I do not think they agreed, I think they reply that once it is in collection department they cannot do anything and she has to negotiate directly with them.

Larry says:

This is interesting.....

Hmmmm….so this pilfering of extra bit here and extra bit there of extraneous funds mean that if I should come up with a software program that can watch transactions lets say over the internet somehow in order to collect the extra tidbits of minute interest unallocated that it could be viewed as being for my slush fund????

Think not!

I view this in essence as a theft pure and simple and any one that has a case should pursue with a vengeance.

Anonymous coward says:

For once I thank God for being ‘poor’. I couldn’t qualify for a loan for a stick of gum. I can’t afford fees for automatic bill pay…I go on the bus to do it in person with cash. I don’t use my ATM for purchases. Twice a vendor entered a larger amount, first time my money was ‘stuck’ in an account of a company who ‘could not release’ it back to my account until fourteen working days passed. Neither the vendor nor my bank would help. The first time I was overdrafted….but got my o.d. fees back by demanding them. I mentioned their salaries are paid by the interest earned from loans made on my meager bank balance. The last time I was denied immediate access to those funds I grew frustrated and resorted to verbal abuse….I watched as my account balance was credited in a record five minutes flat. BTW. I told the person I was speaking with my cursing was not directly aimed at her personally. ‘No apology necessary’ was the reply. Yes, I’m most grateful I’m ‘poor’. Sorry people for the abuse you’ve endured. You don’t deserve it. Try downsizing your ‘conveniences’. They really aren’t convenient at all. Blame the federal reserve vatican bank and give them no more opportunities to profit from your hard earned money.

allen heart (profile) says:

Corrupt Banking Practices

Corrupt banking practices have arisen to more general awareness whenever some rare, moral insider of the corporation blows the whistle. Recently I’ve been investigating Australian Bank Malpractice which to a large extent began with deregulation, too. Banks established false foreign currency loans which defrauded thousands of middle class businessman and farmers, ruined many lives, destroyed families, and brought enormous profits to banks and shonky bank managers. Government did nothing. Courts largely rolled over for the banks. The Australian Bank Heist was condoned by the Reserve Bank watchdog. The corruption started at the top of the government with the prime minister who checked daily on the workers running the scam.

Our unfinished business is searching for a National Conscience. Since this is not likely just a banking crime unique to Australia, something like this might have reared its ugly head elsewhere in the world. I saw somewhere in the past year the same scam is being run in the Eastern Bloc countries. With the increasingly tight credit globally, this could show up anywhere. When enough people can get it straight that banks are a criminal enterprise major changes might possibly allow peace to break out. Meanwhile it’s billions for bankers – debts for the people

Irv Freige says:

Un-Justified Bank Charges

Anyone banking with Bank of America can in recent months share a similar story to the Citi Bank story. We started banking with Bank of America in November of 2004 and in the recent months of 2008, B of A has changed policy in negative balances. It was common for myself any many I have spoke with (including my local branch manager) to have a negative balance as “pending” and when access was available to a computer money would be transferred into the account preventing NSF once “posted”.

Well that has all changed with B of A’s new policy and changes to the automation system. Now if you have a pending transaction with a negative balance we no longer have the free opportunity to transfer the funds. Now that option will cost you $35.00 for each negative in pending. Many would ask why not just protect with “overdraft protection”? We have overdraft protection on our home account linked from our savings; however we have an expense account that has limited use and two other accounts for our two oldest children.

The convenience of the multiple accounts was great as our kids could also run errands and we would transfer money for them. If we were at work and one of our children needed fuel for the car they would call and I would authorize an amount. Then later transfer the money.

With this change in banking policy B of A is collecting cash for nothing. If an item is pending NO MONEY is dispersed so NO LOSS to B of A. However, again B of A is collecting $35.00 for nothing.

If a members account is tight in these times and B of A takes money during a pending transaction here is what the bank will do; they will reverse a POSTED transaction taking an account further into the negative and leaving the previously posted transaction as NSF and again charging the fee for that.

Bottom line is B of A will and is taking money for the bank with no loss to them. I have no problem with a fee being charged for a paid NSF that has posted on the account and fully agree that is money earned by the banks.

If any others feel ripped off by B of A in this way then maybe we need to take some sort of legal action.

Bridgit Roeth says:

Citibank's Mortgage company does same things....

I too will never deal with Citibank again!
I had a mortgage through them, and accidentally paid my monthly payment twice in one month. I realized my mistake soon after the second one, and called right away to get one of them back. I was told they would send me a check for the extra payment. So I waited a week, nothing came. So I called again, and was told it was in processing. Meanwhile, other bills I had paid were getting to the bank and getting overdraft fees. I explained to the bank what happened, and luckily they agreed to waive any overdraft fees for until my next payaday. Again, I waited for my refund, nothing came. Finally, I called again, and was told there would be no refund because it was after the 15th of the month, and the extra money was already applied to my next month’s payment! What the ….!! I was so mad! Were the first 2 people LYING to me?? As soon as I could refinance my mortgage with someone else, I did. I’d be damned if Citibank was getting any more of my money!
The kicker is, the only reason I paid twice is THEY called ME to say they never got my check and made me pay over the phone, so I thought I forgot to pay them! And they went ahead and cashed the original check before I could cancel it. Worst customer service I ever had!

Amanda says:

Citibank Theft

Four months in a row, despite repeated phone calls, they have deducted well over the amount I authorized them to deduct through their auto-payment program. Basically, they have drained my bank account. I spoke to a supervisor today and explained that unauthorized deductions from my bank account amounted to theft and she suggested that because I authorized auto payment, whatever amount they choose to take from me is acceptable. RIDICULOUS. They’ve now agreed to give me a cash advance without interest to make up for what was deducted this month, but it is a huge fiasco and I will never utilize a citibank credit card again.

Tony says:

Banks Suck

Of course banks would do this. I hate all the rules and restrictions and sneakiness of banks. I had some problems overdrafting my account and they ended up just closing it out without notice. Whatever right? well now because of that i am on chexsystems and cant get an account at any bank for like 5 years.
someone told me to try prepaid cards. I found the accountnow card online. their website is has anyone used them before, and if so, is it really as good as they advertise?

AccountNow Prepaid Visa (user link) says:

Re: Banks Suck

Glad you found the AccountNow card online and are interested in trying it out. Let me assure you that we are infact a legit company; if you visit our site you can find our Better Business Bureau (BBB) link at the bottom of the page.

Also, please check out our Facebook fan page to find out what others are saying about the card, even reach out to some of customers to let them give you their personal thoughts. Here is the Facebook link:

Carrie (user link) says:

This is atrocious!

It’s such a shame that banks have been able to get away with ruining people’s finances through policies like this. Hopefully with all of this recent economic reform, consumers will be spared from such horrific practices.

Sadly, many Americans saddled with fees from pre-reform business practices still find themselves deeply in debt. Debt counseling companies like DebtGuru are thankfully there to help. By working with individuals and banks to lower pre-reform overdraft payments, they have already allowed many Americans to get back on their feet. You should really check them out!

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