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Help! My bank won't give me my money

Posted by Mitch Lipka  September 21, 2011 12:00 PM

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Q. I recently moved from Connecticut to Massachusetts and in the process, I changed banks. After closing my account with my old bank in Connecticut, I opened up a new account with Citizens Bank and deposited my cashier’s check with funds from my previous bank. I received the standard “Notice of Delayed Funds Availability” letter that stated that my funds would be available to me on Sept. 1st. About five days later, after not seeing my funds, I contacted Citizens to see what was going on. They told me the cashier’s check was made out to my first and middle name, not my first and last name. They are withholding these funds for a longer time now, and I am in desperate need of the money so I can pay my rent, bills, and other living expenses. Can you help me?

David Duff

A. It’s rough when your money is tied up over a bureaucratic issue and you can’t seem to find anyone to help. When you’re in a situation that appears hopeless, and time is of the essence, take that urgency and go as high as you can until you find someone who can help cut through the red tape.

In this case, I helped accelerate the process by reaching out to the folks in Citizens corporate office and asking if they could give your situation a look.

Nancy Orlando, spokeswoman for Citizens Financial Group, said due to privacy issues she couldn’t specifically discuss what happened, but suggested that concern about fraud was at the root of the delay.

“We take fraud seriously and work to ensure that our customers’ accounts are safe from potential threats and fraudulent activity,” she said. “When a customer first opens an account and deposits a check into it that does not match the name on the account, we may hold the amount of the check until we can verify it was paid by the drawing institution. We encourage our customers to contact us if they suspect there has been fraudulent activity on their account.”

It’s pretty clear now there was no fraud and the money is in your account. You can start paying bills.

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at


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