I have had a bank account for approximately 12 years. This bank was purchased by Wesbanco this year. This Fall, I added my fiance to the account. Apparently, he had a bad loan with the original bank from 2002. This did not show up on his credit report in the 3 years that I have known him. On October 28th, 2008, I received a letter from Wesbanco dated October 22nd stating that he owed $1,049 from a loan and that we had 15 days to reply to work a payment schedule out. On November 4th, this bank deducted $1,464.55 from my account (I also have my mothers' name on my account). My fiance tried to call the number on the letter on November 5th (he did this on his cell phone and we have proof as this call shows up from his line) and left a message on the letterwriter's extension. I just happened to check my account balance on November 6th and was mortified that I was $453 in the negative. Upon listening to the debits, I realized what had happened as I did not debit this amount. My fiance called the bank once again and spoke with the supervisor who stated that he had approved the withdrawal of the funds on November 4th. My fiance explained that he had tried calling the day before and had left a message with his subordinate. He also questioned why funds were withdrawn before the 15 days as the letter had stated, that the day they were having this conversation was still before the 15 day deadline and asked why an additional $415 was withdrawn. The supervisor stated that he did this action because he could and that if my fiance had really cared about this matter then he would have settled his debt long ago. The conversation ended. Upon my hearing this conversation, I had my fiance call the supervisor back and tell him what he had done was illegal and that if he did not make this right and at the very least return the additional $415 and any charges accrued by this illegal deduction, we would begin taking action first withdrawing all of our money from several accounts I have there. The supervisor agreed and did return the $415 and a $33 fee. However, I still am unhappy with the way this incident occurred. I called and spoke with the supervisors' boss today (November 13th) and explained all of this. This gentleman stated that he would get back with me tomorrow. Am I in a position to demand at the very least, the return of the $1,049 for the way that this happened? Also, are they allowed to withdraw the money he owed from an account with 2 other individual's names on the account? Do we have a case? What do you recommend? Your assistance is greatly appreciated.
Also, I am located in Ohio and if I do need a lawyer, what area of legal practice do I seek help?
My practice focus in injury law so do not take any of my suggestions as legal advice or providing any sort of legal opinion. However, I believe I can offer a few suggestions which will hopefully focus you in the proper direction. First, you should fully understand what debts you fiancee has (as you probably already are aware now) before adding him to your checking account which gives him access to your funds. You also need to understand the validity of the debts by talking to him about it. I cannot give you a legal opinion on whether or not the bank was correct in withdrawing the funds in this specific circumstance. If I am correct, based on your description above, it seems that your fiancee had full access to the funds, gave permission to withdraw the funds, and his name was on the account, which on the surface seems problamatic. Typically, these organizations will tape-record calls and I would certainily ask the organization for a copy of the discussion your fiancee (or transcript) had regarding the "approval" of the funds being withdrawn from the account. I would recommend doing this by lettter and send it certified, return receipt.
As far as getting the money back, that is a more difficult question, particularly if your fiancee had full access to the funds and was listed on the checking account jointly. You may want to consider removing him from your checking account and having him get his own checking account. As far as the type of lawyer you should consult with, a "general practioner" in your area or perhaps someone who specializes in "Debt practices" would be a good first start. You should ask what the hourly rates are, what the chances (in terms of %) are in prevailing, and if you do have a chance what the estimated fees would be. Of course, the total amount that is at stake here is $1,049 and, in this circumstance, you will likely have to pay an hourly rate to an attorney you hire to represent you which you should take into account in making a decision on how to proceed. You should also speak with more than one attorney and also discuss with the attorneys the possibility of pursuing this in small claims court.