(Warning: this post is somewhat of a rant. If you aren’t in the mood, turn away now.)
Prior to being a stepmom in Chester County, I spent years in the financial services industry including as a Compliance Officer. So I am very familiar with how banks and other institutions should send out customer correspondence.
This morning as I am editing some photos the doorbell rings. A UPS man had dropped an envelope on the front porch. The envelope is from Citibank, N.A. I opened it not thinking initially it could be addressed to someone else. We don’t have accounts with Citibank, so I did not know why they were contacting us.
Turns out the correspondence was for a woman who used to live in the house, but had been dead for close to three years.
I start reading this letter addressed to the “Estate of Mrs. X” . They (Citibank) open by extending condolences a few years too late. Then they state how they have closed the account referenced above (I whited out the number for this post, but they disclosed the entire account number of this credit card) and apologized for any inconvenience and if anyone in the house was using this card they can call 1-800-456-4277 to apply for their own card. Then they say if the records are incorrect and Mrs. X is still alive, accept their apologies and basically let them know to reactivate account. They sign the letter Credit Management Department 1-866-775-0556.
As someone who used to work in the financial services industry I was appalled by the phraseology and the unabashed shill to try to get a dead woman’s relatives to sign up for a credit card. I was also profoundly disturbed that they sent a letter to an Estate where they did not even check to see if the address was legitimate still and disclosed not only the decedent’s name but her ENTIRE account number. People, even dead people, have become victims of identity theft on far less information – the news has these horror stories far too often it seems. (My bank and credit card company which are different institutions do NOT disclose my entire account number on any statements and correspondence that gets mailed.)
So I call up Citibank to (a) tell them they are sending correspondence to my home to a woman who has been dead quite a while and to (b) to ask them to correct the address of record.
I get a “helpful” customer service representative who says they found out only recently this woman had died due to another account she had with Citibank.
O.K. too much information. I am not a relative or estate attorney or executor and if I was I should have to be able to give them proof of such standing before any conversation took place.
So I said to her I had not received other correspondence from Citibank so why would they send account information here when they had another address for whatever the other accounts were?
Very annoyed. I had some nerve asking a reasonable and logical question.
So I then told her how distasteful in general I found the letter along with foolhardy. Foolhardy as they disclosed to me a stranger an account number and did not verify a proper address for estate paperwork before sending anything out. Distasteful because they are on one hand offering condolences but on the other hand pimping for new customers, but oh yeah if Mrs. X really isn’t dead let’s get her hooked up with more credit again.
Very annoyed again.
So here’s to you Citibank. I don’t think I could ever open any account with you given this whole thing. I want my financial institutions to safeguard all my information, and if I had any deceased relatives where I was executrix, I would want the same thing.
Financial institutions are sloppy. They have rules and regulations they are supposed to follow with regard to client accounts, and once anything gets tagged “estate” they are supposed to be even more vigilant.
Aesop’s moral to this story is make sure accounts are CLOSED when you close them.