Consumer reviews and reports on scam companies, bad products and services
Fifth Third Bank Discontinuation of statements to hide increased minimum payments and charge late fees. Cincinnati, Ohio
1st of Nov, 2011 by User354424
I originally openned my Fifth Third checking account in 2007 after moving to Indiana, and along with my checking account I openned a credit card account primarily for use as overdraft protection. I have had minor issues with Fifth Third policies, but until recently the issues were not severe enough that my business would be taken elsewhere. However, in the past few months Fifth Third Bank has engaged in a campaign of deception. In spite of receiving payments on time, Fifth Third has been charging late fees and reporting my account to credit reporting agencies as over 30 days delinquent, and yet reporting my monthly status as current. If it sounds confusing, the details are included below. Normally, our practice has been to only utilize the Fifth Third Bank for overdraft in unusual circumstances, such as when a tax bill comes due and exceeds funds available as of its due date. At any rate, our practice has been to pay back the overdraft credit account at the next pay period which usually meant that we repay the balance before the next statement date. Thus we did not realize that at some point Fifth Third stopped sending statements on the credit account. We did receive our checking and savings statements and the credit statement was not included. I will say this about Fifth Third: We have been aware of the overdraft settlement, but chose not to participate. Fifth Third has charged their $15 overdraft protection fee when they've utilized the credit card overdraft protection, and I don't fault Fifth Third for that. We've also incurred the larger overdraft fees when the credit limit on the card has been exceeded, which is an interesting story itself. When this has happenned, we have been inconvenienced but reached satisfactory resolution with Fifth Third customer service. There have been two occasions prior to recent occurances where Fifth Third went on a fee charging bonanza because our credit card did not have enough available. In both occasions, this happenned because Fifth Third changed credit card policies. The credit card was initially approved at a $1500 limit with the full amount available for overdraft protection. Fifth Third changed their policy to allow only 50% of the credit limit for cash advances, at which point overdraft protection was incurred and the larger fees began accumulating. Again later, Fifth Third reduced the credit limit to $500 with $500 available for cash advances and another fee charging bonanza ensued. As I said, we have not generally made it a practice to carry a balance on this card, and the timing of the credit limit changes begs the question in one's mind whether it was truly coincidence or a well timed manipulation done intentionally to incur fees. At the time, it was frustrating as a customer, but after some inconvenience the fees were reversed by working through customer service - and this is why I did not chose to participate in the overdraft settlement. After Memorial Day this year, I lost my job and we immediately went into unemployment mode and began making only minimum payments until I had a new job and the financial impact of unemployment had been recovered. I was only unemployed for 2 weeks, but the timing left us in a position where financial recover wasn't going to happen until the fall. Without statements, we did not have information on Fifth Third's minimum payments so we made minimum payments based on the minimum payments that 3 other credit cards with $500 balance charged. My only notification that a payment was due was an e-mail stating that a payment was due and providing the due date, so my wife set up payments directly from our checking account to the credit account and payments with one exception processed before the due date, the exception being that one payment was made 2 days after the payment due date. June 3, 2011, a payment was made of $112.50 when a payment was due on June 6, this was the last statement date a late fee was not charged. July 8, 2011 a payment of $15 was made after I received my first paycheck from my new job, the payment date was July 6. After the fact I learned that the minimum payment was $25. I was charged a $25 late payment fee. The statement balance was $395.60 (My limit is $500) August 3 a payment of $20 was made. Payment was due August 6. I was charged a $35 late fee. Unbeknownst to me also was the fact that the minimum payment was $60. The statement balance was $479.19 September 6 a payment of $15 was made. Payment was due September 6. I was charged a $35 late payment fee. After the fact I learned the amount stated as due was $105.30. The statement balance was $528.30. The payment due October 6 was apparently $169.08. I could not make payment because I did not have a statement, Fifth Third closed the credit card account and removed all signs of its existance from online banking, which was how I had been submitting payment. In other words, I could no longer make payments online because the account had been closed. I did not receive my usual e-mail that a payment was due. I obtained copies of the statements (for the first time) from my local bank branch on October 2. I mailed a check for $200, the check cleared my new bank account at another bank on October 11. On October 12 I received a letter from Fifth Third stating that I was "seriously delinquent" and I was being charged another $35 late fee. I did not keep track of the date unfortunately, but one attempt to resolve the situation is that I attempted to call customer service, but my call was routed to collections. Collections offered to make the payment over the phone, but since I was in the process of discontinuing my Fifth Third checking account I wanted to make payment by check from my new account at another bank. This could only be done by mailing the check to the statements I did not have, and I was told I would need to speak with customer service about the fees. Within that same call, after I was transferred allegedly to customer service, I ended up speaking with another person in collections. The conversation repeated as it had the first time and once again the alleged transfer to customer service ended up with me speaking with a third person in collections. At this point I was out of time and told the individual that he should note on the account that I am very dissatisfied and Fifth Third will receive payment by check in the mail. In the mean time, I will also note that Fifth Third has reported on my credit file. The credit file contains information in two forms, one way credit status on accounts is reported is that the status is summarized each month, this gives history information. Every month on my credit report shows that the status is okay, including the months of July, August and September. (my last check of my credit report was before an October status would show). The other part of the report shows the current status of accounts, and that status for the Fifth Third credit card shows the account as more than 30 days late. I disputed the status because of the inconsistency and as far as I'm concerned the inaccuracy, and quickly Fifth Third reported that the information is accurate. Customer service hours are limitted, and work has been busy so my next opportunity to waste an hour of my life within the available customer service hours occurred yesterday, November 1. I spoke with a representative whose name was Jeanelle if I recall correctly. I was only offered to have $35 refunded and no resolution on the false credit reporting. This incident has had repurcussions beyond the fees on the Fifth Third account. My financial plans had included pursuing loans needed for major repairs on my house, including removing dangerous trees and foundation repair. Due to my credit score, the loan application was denied. I considered it a setback I could overcome by paying down credit over the next few months and reapply in the spring. What I had not realized was that the reporting that Fifth Third had done resulted in my credit score dropping by 100 points. Also what I did not realize was that the tree work that became postponed as a result could have avoided the damages caused when the tree fell in high winds in late September. Fortunately, the tree only hit the swing set in our back yard, the power line and the fence. The repairs were within my DIY capability so the cost was minimal, but had the tree fallen differently it could have crushed my house or my garage, and it happenned overnight while we were asleep. My children could have been seriously injured or killed. I know Fifth Third didn't manipulate my accounts with the intent to kill my family, but when you think about it that is exactly how this could have happenned. What does seem crystal clear is that Fifth Third offered a product that I chose on the basis of minimizing the fees incurred in the event of an overdraft situation, but instead Fifth Third has engaged in a pattern of manipulation intended to maximize their fee collection. I recommend that anybody considering a new bank should find one that will not take advantage of them, and anyone banking with Fifth Third should consider whether their money is as safe as they think it is.

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