A Call to Arms Against TCF Bank

About a month ago, someone walked into a TCF Bank here in the Chicago area, forged my name (rather poorly, I might add), and walked away with $5000 of my money. The story here isn’t the lack of security at the bank - although that is frightening enough - but the way in which TCF has played hardball with me in every matter concerning the investigation of the missing money. (Keep in mind, I’m just a college kid who was counting on using that money to pay for things like rent & books.)

1.) On the day I reported the money missing, I contacted the branch and filed a police report. (10/23/99) The police later contacted TCF, but the bank stated that it would not answer any questions until it had done its own investigation. The detective assigned to the case said that “As long as the bank gives you your money back, then they have that right.” The money hasn’t yet been returned, but the story gets better.

2.) Despite working my way up to the VP level of the bank, I was given the runaround for nearly three weeks. No one could tell me anything concerning the investigation, only that legally they could “hold my money from 30-90 days.” Last Friday, I printed up some flyers calling the security of the bank and its response into question, and proceeded to distribute them outside a Jewel supermarket (the branch in question was located inside.) Not surprisingly, the managers of the branch and the supermarket called the police, who in turn reminded the two that I was standing on public property and free to do what I wished. (11/12/99)

3.) Later that day, the manager of the bank called me into the branch. There,I was informed that the investigation had been “held up” because of required paperwork that hadn’t been filled out. One of the forms was a waiver that released TCF Bank from any and all claims related to my missing money. I refused to sign this form, even though they threatened that the investigation would not continue unless I did.

4.) I filed a complaint with an agency that oversees federal banks, but they informed me that registering a complaint with them could take upwards of six weeks. (Jeez, that’s speedy of them, isn’t it?) My only recourse in this avenue seems to via the courts, but any legal matter would tie up my money even longer. Regrettably, this path may be the option I am forced to take.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to be the worst PR for TCF Bank that I can possibly be. I’ve printed more flyers to hand out personally, and have contacted the Chicago Tribune and local TV News investigative teams. The paper and networks haven’t called me back as of yet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

If any of you could spare some advice in this kind of matter, I’d greatly appreciate it.


Kevin Fullam

Hey, Kevin, do they have a consumer hotline or a reasonable equivalent thereof at your local tv station news department? I’ll bet they’d love to sink their teeth into this one.

There’s also local newspaper columnists you can appeal to.

Will work for sig line.

Does your university also have a law school? If it does they probably have some kind of assistance project for students with problems that could benefit from the efforts of legal beagles. Look into that.

If not, and if you continue to get no satisfaction from the bank, start asking around amongst your acqaintance for an attorney reference. My experience has taught me that you don’t want to engage an attorney based on how quickly you found him or her in the phone book. But a little legal help might push this ahead if you get to a point where you realize your own efforts are not bearing fruit.

Good luck!

DON’T SIGN ANYTHING TILL YOU GET YOUR MONEY!!! And when you do ge your money don’t sign any release do NOT absolve the bank of any responsibility. Seems THEY are responsible for any missed rent etc. .Then take your money to another bank, and don’t put up with any BS about loosing interest or being penalized,either.
The detective is talking thru his hat, the bank does not have the right to keep silent about information they have on a crime, and they haven’t given you back your money. They HAVE to talk to the cops and DA keep asking tthem whats happening.Ask the bank how come they didn’t hold YOUR money for 30 to 90 days instead of giving it to some one else. Contact some of the smaller radio stations and news papers, how about the campus paper, is there an aspiring investigative reporter there? To satisfy your frustration, keep up the picketing, be careful with the wording on your flyers maybe put a disclaimer in small type way down at the bottom stating that the info contained therein is your opinion,don’t threaten the bank in any way, don’t say anything is a fact unless you are POSITIVE it is. Don’t call the bank any names, Idiots,incompetents etc. You can say the bank is ‘unfair’ but I would be careful there too… Wear a 'sandwich board “Where’s MY money?” on one side “Is YOUR money safe?” on the other. Picket the main or busiest branch bank on a Friday payday when lots of people are there. Find a branch that is near one of the TV stations if they can get some visuals ( that’s what TV likes, doesn’t matter how important the story is) without having to drive across town they are more likely to give you 30 seconds on TV. Write letters to the Editors. Not complaining letters, ask " can anyone explain this to me?" similar to your posting. Keep up the good fight. Screw the bastards! After we kill the lawyers ,we blow up the banks!!! Power to the people! FREE THE TCF 5000! (Hm put that on a sign? You gotta rouse curiosity) Wait a minute, A college student has $5000? What am I missing here?

“Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.”-Marx

I could see a local TV station doing a Consumer Awareness style segment on this - with a twist about being careful during the holidays or “everyone is so worried about Y2k they are ignoring the basics”.

You are missing the obvious, although I DO respect your spunk vis-a-vis the protesting. Pick up the telephone, and make use of your tax dollars. Call the United States Department of The Treasury in Washington, DC. Get the Field Office # for Chicago. GO IN PERSON, and inform them of the fact that the bank may very well be violating Federal Crime Statutes, by not having had the Treasury Dept.involved - FROM THE MOMENT THE FRAUD OCCURRED.
You are the victim of Bank Fraud, that is NOT a state crime.
Make the call, let the Teeming Millions know how it went. :slight_smile:


  1. Deal with the bank ONLY in writing.

  2. Send them a letter summarizing the facts of the situation and demanding your money immediately, plus interest from the date they wrongfully paid a forged instrument OR any evidence they have that the signature on the instrument was yours or authorized with you. Demand the check – it belongs to you, and a copy of your signature card for the account. Give them three days to do this, after which time your attorney will contact them.

  3. Send a copy of this letter to your state banking regulator, the FDIC, the state attorney general, the Better Business Bureau, the president of the bank, your congressmen, your state legislators, your university and every local TV station and newspaper’s consumer reporter. Be sure to note on the letter that all these folks are being copied.

  4. Have you been harmed in any way by not having access to this money? Be sure to keep track of how you have been damaged.

Good luck.

A very similar thing happened to me when I was in school. My wife was robbed while travelling on business. Around that same time I received the semester’s student loan check, which I deposited in the checking account. The bank cashed two checks for $1800 and $3500. I discovered this when, to my extreme surprise, they notified me I was overdrawn. Luckily, my bank did the correct thing and immediately credited my account for the wrongfully paid checks. Of course, we it did help that my wife had made a police report of the original crime. How did you lose your checks?

Plunging like stones from a slingshot on Mars.

I’m an Illinois attorney who represents a bank or two. Most of the advice so far has been good. Bottom line based on what you’ve said? You’re right, and the bank’s wrong. (I’m assuming here that you weren’t careless with your checks, in which case the bank may have a point.)

UCC Section 4-401 allows a bank to debit a customer’s account only when a check is “properly payable”. To be properly payable, the check must be signed by or otherwise authorized by you. Section 4-406 requires that you give prompt notice of the forgery, but it sounds like you did that. If you haven’t done so, do it in writing.

Other UCC sections may alter this result if you were negligent in securing your blank checks, or if someone connected to you (like an employee) was responsible for the forgery. Was one of your checks used in the forgery? (This isn’t always the case. Modern forgers often use computers to create checks from scratch, even down to the magnetic coding.)

Usual disclaimer - This post is not intended to give advice or create an attorney-client relationship, and only contains a general statement of the law. I suggest that you contact an attorney for specific legal advice if you want to proceed further.

Thanks for the all the advice that’s been given so far – I really appreciate it. I’ll post a message with an update soon, I just wanted to clarify the point that the problem wasn’t a lost check; someone actually walked up to the TELLER and withdrew the money in person. This is what leads me and the police to believe that it might be an inside job. I’ll check in later…


KJ, something doesn’t add up here. Banks in places larger than Mayberry don’t hand out money on verbal request. There would have to be a check or withdrawl slip filled out and signed. Which was the case here?

Random, reread the OP:{quote]About a month ago, someone walked into a TCF Bank here in the Chicago area, forged my name (rather poorly, I might add), and walked away with $5000 of my money.
It was not a verbal request; it was a check or withdrawal slip.

That would seem to be the case. My initial post shows that I understood this (in that I referred to “the forger”. That’s why KJ’s later post confused me. He seems to deny that a check was involved and, while the post doesn’t specifically rule out a withdrawal slip, it’s my experience that banks usually require you to use a check when withdrawing money from a checking account, even if it is your account and you are doing it in person. At the very least, the bank would normally require a driver’s license or other verification of identity before allowing the withdrawal without a check. That’s why I said I thought there was something missing here. KJ, exactly how did the forger accomplish the withdrawal?

Also, has the bank checked its security camera tapes?

Sorry if I confused anybody. Yes, someone signed a withdrawal slip – the bank didn’t require one of my actual checks (I just wanted to make the point that the problem didn’t stem from me losing my checks). The signature that was on the withdrawal slip wasn’t even remotely close to mine.

You’re exactly right in that there were security cameras at the bank, and that it presumably wouldn’t be too difficult to review the tapes and find out who handled the transaction and who stepped up to the teller’s counter. This is why I am dumbfounded as to why this matter has dragged on and on for such an extended period of time. The police detective that I spoke with seemed to believe that it was an inside job, since they knew: A) My account number; and B) The balance of my account.

The bank manager assumed that someone got a hold of a fake ID with my name on it, but she obviously doesn’t know for sure because the tapes haven’t been reviewed. To review the tapes would seem to be a simple affair, but for some reason, these people haven’t done it.

As an expansion to my earlier post:

  1. I looked at the UCC this afternoon and hereby give a SAL – LUTE to Random for his accurate quote and analysis. Sums it up pretty well.

  2. $5000 is a petty sum for a financial institution – especially a large one. Clearly they are trying to wear you down. Your best response is to attract as much influential attention to their actions as possible. As soon as someone at the bank with the intelligence to make a good decision and the power to do so realizes that continuing to jerk you around will cost the bank money, they will pay up.

  3. If you have accurately described the facts of the situation (In my experience there are always 2 sides to every story – we’ve heard one herein) you probably have a cause of action for damages against the bank. If you have suffered any significant harm as a result of the bank’s actions, you may wish to investigate pursuing your case against them. I would suggest you contact an attorney – don’t call someone who advertises on TV or has a big yellow pages ad. Call your local bar association and ask to be referred to a banking lawyer.

If your cause is just, keep the faith and do not give up. You will prevail in the end and the bastards deserve whatever you can inflict on them. If you are bullshitting us, well…

Plunging like stones from a slingshot on Mars.

You don’t do banking on-line, do you?

Well, at long last. . . TCF handed over my money. After filing a complaint with the Comptroller of Currency (agency that oversees national banks), I was directed to obtain a written statement from the bank explaining their position on the matter.
When I called the bank to ask for this, they informed me that my money was “waiting for me at the bank.” They said that they had sent a letter detailing their investigation, but I had received nothing.

So, I drove over to the bank, where they printed out a cashier’s check payable to me in the amount of the missing money. (No interest or anything else added.) They didn’t make me sign anything, so I still have the right to sue for damages if I decide to do so later on.

But get this: I walked over to Bank One to open up a new account and CD – and found out that someone using my name, SS#, and birthdate had ALREADY opened an account there shortly after making off with my money last month. The bank is investigating, the police have been notified, and I’ve contacted the credit bureau to see if this imposter has applied for credit cards or mortages in my name.

So I’m still in a world of grief, but at least I have my missing money. BTW, I finally spoke to someone from ABC local news today, and a producer is supposed to contact me tomorrow about the story. So, if any of you live in the Chicago area, you just might see me on your TV screens soon. . .


Now cross your fingers and hope that the jerk doesn’t read the Straight Dope message board or work at the TV station.
Sounds like you can set up a sting operation.