Is this fraudulent banking practice?

Months ago, a law firm that we hired (and have since terminated relations with them, for various reasons) set up a bank account for the funds of the estate of my father-in-law. The bank set this account up at the behest of the firm, with our knowledge, but NOT with any kind of documentation as to my wife’s (the administrator of the estate and the person writing the check’s for the estates creditors). My wife never went into the bank, never signed a signature card, none of that. We did get checks, which we wrote out, and the creditors were apparently honored by the bank.

Interestingly, when we went to “the branch” with our new lawyer, it turned out to be a small office. “We’re not really a bank, we soon hope to be,” was their line. Funny that the title of their company says “BANK.”

Still, is this kosher? Is there not some regulation that says the bank has to have proper ID in order to establish an account? I know my own credit union does.

Who would I call to report/inquire/drop dime on these guys?

The name of the bank should give a clue: “National Bank,” “Savings and Loan” (also “Savings Bank”), “FSB,” “NA” etc. in the name is regulated by law and indicates where the bank is chartered. Be sure to check official documents – Citibank’s name doesn’t clearly indicate that its banking arms are “Citibank, FSB” “Citibank, NA” and “Citibank (New York State)” unless you read the fine print.

If the words or initials are part of the name, then it’s a bank and usually has FDIC or FSLIC backing.

As to someone setting up as “Joe’s Bank” – it probably depends on state regulations.