Loans By Kathy: They're watching

They're watching

They're watching everything.  On a recent impromptu trip to Florida, I tried to make a purchase, but the card was declined.  It was actually my debit card.  Fortunately for me I had some cash with me.  I assumed it was a faulty connection or the Bank of America server was down.  Surely there had to be an explanation.  I knew exactly how much money I had in my account.  I unlike to many others, actually balances my check account every month.

Later that day, I was stunned to find an email stating that Bank of America had suspended my account because of suspicious activity.  Of course, this happens on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.  While I appreciate the watchful eye to protect me, it was more than a little disturbing that I didn't receive a phone call asking if I was making the purchases.  

So, as soon as the bank opened on Tuesday, I was there to get the whole situation sorted out.  As it turns out, the exact same thing happened to a friend while he was traveling to California.  

During my conversation with the customer service rep at Bank of America, she suggested when you know you are going to be traveling, call the bank in advance so they can mark the account accordingly.  I am just glad I wasn't more than 500 miles from home.  Had I been overseas, I would have been extremely annoyed.

I know that sharing this experience with everyone, will prevent someone else from the same frustration.


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Kathy Sheehan Senior Loan Officer






Bay Equity LLC

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The opinions and general information in this blog are soley those of Kathy Sheehan.  Specifics regarding an individual case should be discussed in detail with a loan professional.  For a confidential consultation, please feel free to contact me via phone or email.  All terms and conditions are subject to change.


Comment balloon 29 commentsKathy Sheehan • May 30 2013 06:43PM


Kathy, I read an article the other day "Reasons your credit card may be denied" and one tip was to always notify your credit card companies before traveling and to know your daily transaction limit or your card could be declined. Also, call your credit card company before making any big purchases that "do not fit your pattern of behavior for spending" (didn't know I had one...) or it could trigger a fraud alert for suspicious activity. Thanks for the reminder that it can happen to anyone.


Posted by Diana Zaccaro, Your Brevard County, Florida coastal connection! (Tropical Realty Beachside brokered by eXp) over 5 years ago
Kathy, I had my credit card companies call me twice this week. There may be something going on and neither one was BOA.
Posted by Debbie Reynolds, Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent (Platinum Properties) over 5 years ago

Kathy- and of course it would happen on a 3 day weekend!  Seems like they could have tried to call or contact you.  Thanks for the heads up. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 5 years ago
There should be a 1-800 number on the back of the card that's answered 24/7. That's happened to me before but not in a long time.
Posted by Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Broker, Selling Northwest Houston to good people like you! (Janisch & Co.) over 5 years ago

I wonder what the Real Reason is that they are Freezing Funds.  Wise move to carry cash.

 As for "call the bank", who do I call and how do they know who I am? 

Posted by Fred Griffin, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Fred Griffin Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Kathy, this stuff drives me nuts, and I closed my Bank of America accounts.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 5 years ago

There's a number on your card to call. Still, that has to be frightening on a long weekend.

Posted by Hella Mitschke Rothwell, Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker ((831) 626-4000) over 5 years ago

A bit frustratiing to say the least, but I'm glad to hear they are watching.....I've gotten a phone call when there was an unusual amount of activity in a short period of time, but they never froze my account.

Posted by Roger D. Mucci, Lets shake things up at your home today! (Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092) over 5 years ago

With the dramatic increase in credit card fraud and invasion of accounts, banks have programmed their systems to decline charges or debits made "out of the area". 

Before traveling, it's a good idea to contact the bank and let them "lift" that restriction during the time of your trip.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Good morning Kathy. I think that this sort of thing is a major inconvenience. If they arewatching, perhaps they could act responsibly and not uspend the account. Now we have another job...not their problem but mine. Nonetheless good suggestion.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) over 5 years ago

Kathy, The same thing happened to me while getting gas on a trip to Disneyland! A quick call settled the matter. Whew!

Posted by Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!, So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR (Prado Real Estate South) over 5 years ago

Hey, Kathy!  I included this post in today’s Last Week’s Favorites.  Please drop by and check it out, and and have a terrific week!


Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Hi Kathy,

I came over from Pat's post this morning on her favorite posts for the week. This is frustrating but as Lenn said, before traveling, it's a good idea to contact the bank and let them "lift" that restriction during the time of your trip. We always call before leaving town or the country so they know it is us. If we don't call our purchases would be denied!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899) over 5 years ago

Kathy, While I understand the bank's concern, for the interest rates they charge on credit cards, it does seem like they could actually call your cell phone before suspending your account.  Why should the burden be on the consumer to warn them that we're doing something legitimate?

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 over 5 years ago

Kathy, Our credit card company has called us in the past when we have been out of area. Just recently I had my debit card stopped and they re issued me another. Yes, I now call when we are going far away from home.

Posted by Helen and Larry Prier- Re-Max Gateway - Residential Real Estate, Anacortes & surrounding Skagit & Island Counties (RE-MAX Gateway- Residential Real Estate Sales) over 5 years ago
Kathy, i just posted about this very same thing two weeks ago! I was buying a wedding gift online in Sweden and they froze my account. A phone call would have been nice!
Posted by Connie Harvey, Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate (Pilkerton Realtors) over 5 years ago

My credit card comparies would have a hard time calling me. I disconnected my home phone years ago and they don't have my cell number. However, they do have my email address and could contact me that way.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) over 5 years ago

Kathy, well I will have to remember to call my bank before traveling out of state....thanks for the heads up.

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate (Vision Quest Realty, Martha Hilton, Broker) over 5 years ago

Kathy, I had that happen to me a few times, but it's been a while. Thanks for the heads up, I have some rather extended trips coming up for work that are out of the usual pattern. I'll heed your advice and give the bank a call before I leave.

Posted by Rene Fabre, Marketing in the Digital Age (First American Title) over 5 years ago


Thanks for sharing your experience. We had a major issue with Chase when we tried to tell them we were traveling overseas. These big banks with service call centers located in mostly South East Asia are always problematic in my opinion. 

Posted by Robert Bob Gilbert, Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties) over 5 years ago

Kathy -- came over from Pat's referral.    We have been doing this for the last several years. Please note that some banks will call and let you know -- as ours did last fall when card went out of country -- however, no one was home at the time, they didn't suspend, but they also didn't notice the Note we had placed on the card being out of country.   You can only do so much.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 5 years ago

Kathy, I’ve received fraud alert calls in the past but never has my bank suspended my account for alleged suspicious activity.  In fact, I recently had fraudulent activity and they let it go for three days before calling … way to long IMO given the level of activity in areas I never shop!

Posted by Kathleen Daniels, San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist (KD Realty - 408.972.1822) over 5 years ago

Hi Kathy, Thanks for sharing and I suppose it is a good idea to let the bank know when we will be traveling!

Posted by Christine OShea (Christine E O'Shea Real Estate Broker) over 5 years ago

This happened to me when we went to North Carolina last year. So... .this year, I am calling to tell them th dates I will be out of town and where I am traveling to.

Posted by Joni Bailey, Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR® (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Anderson Properties) over 5 years ago

I've never had the card suspended but have had the potential fraud calls. And recently there were actually some fraudulent charges and we had to change all our cards. All the charges were covered by the bank and credit card companies.

Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) over 5 years ago

Kathy, my husband and I had this happen last fall when we were both traveling in two different directions.  Guess it confused the credit card company.  Ugh!

Posted by Mary Yonkers, Erie/PA Real Estate Instructor (Alan Kells School of Real Estate/Howard Hanna Real Estate) over 5 years ago

I let my bank know before I left for this very reason!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 5 years ago

It's good to go visit your bank once in a while and let them check your credit card; let's them know you are watching them.

Posted by Toni Weidman, 26 Years Selling Homes in New Port Richey, FL (Sailwinds Realty) over 5 years ago

I had someone use my credit card number to purchase an airline ticket, travel to Rome and spend a lot of money shopping.  I had no idea until I received my monthly bill.

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) over 5 years ago