the ghost of banking past

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so here's the entry about the banking stuff with tamara, which i originally wrote close to two months ago. but due to tamara's lack of action, i kept having to add to it and hold off on posting it. since she finally got around to doing her part, here it is.

when planning to put a new engine in my car, i decided to get a credit card that had 0% interest for 9, 12, or more months and use that to get a "no interest loan" (as long as i paid it off within the 0% interest period). i didn't really care what bank it was through, just that it was 0% and a number of months. i eventually got an application for one, filled it out, and got the card. a few months went by due to my indecision about what engine to get, but about two four months ago i finally made the purchase.

since i was now carrying a balance on the card and would need to make monthly payments, i decided to see if i could set up online access for the card. i checked what bank the card was issued by, then i went to their website and started going through the enrollment process. i entered my name, zip, credit card...then the site said their records showed i already had a user id that was tied to an existing account and asked for that account number. "eh?" i thought.

a window popped up offering to provide help via online chat, so i did that. after their looking into it, it turned out they had found an online account i'd used at this bank back when i was still married. looking through some stuff, i managed to find my old user id, password, and account info. i had to change my user id due to newer naming rules, but the underlying account stayed the same. using the old password i found, it let me log in and i finished setting up my new user id. once in, what did i see?

"Last sign in: 10/24/2003 at 12:07 p.m. ET"

guess what else i saw: access to a checking account. yep, once i logged in, i still had full access to the checking account that i had used while tamara and i were married. it had been tamara's before we knew each other, but at some point in the marriage we added me as a joint on the account. evidently she didn't delete the account during the six years since she had the affair and left me. it had a balance. and what's more, they told me the account was still active.

(as a curious side note, my user id still had all of the old bill pay accounts that i had set up those many years ago. i've since deleted them all, as none apply anymore.)

i told the person in chat i really shouldn't have access to the checking account. not only that, but my name still being on it means that my credit and such has been and is tied to the behaviour of that account. given tamara's past, and past with me, i was understandably worried about still having financial ties to her (even though she'd been good about money before and while with me). they told me i would need to call the online banking group and explain it to them and have them remove my access to that checking account.

a couple of days later i called, but they told me i couldn't do it over the phone and i would need to go by a bank office. they also told me it was their understanding we would both need to go in person and sign paperwork. i told them we were divorced and that was unlikely. i asked if i could just present a certified divorce decree, and they said i'd need to ask at a bank office.*sigh*

so when i was free during the day one friday last month (october 16th), i went by the bank to find out what i needed to do to get my name off the account. as they said on the phone, you're supposed to both be there to sign paperwork. or either of you can close the account and cash it out all by yourself. i understand the legal liability thing, but it seems odd it is legal for either person to come in and close the account and take the cash, but it's not legal for one person to remove their name on something with a positive balance (i.e., not avoiding debt, but giving up access to cash). it also seems odd you can't get the paperwork and submit it separately (maybe requiring notarization to cover fraud), or even have each of you sign the paperwork in person but separately. or that i can't bring in a divorce decree that shows we are legally divorced and that the account in question was decreed as hers.

anyway, that's the case. so i would assume one or more of the following were her reason(s):

  • she didn't want to have to get new checks and cards
  • she was used to the account number(s)
  • she felt like the account was "hers" and she shouldn't have to change it just because of me
  • she didn't want to deal with it so she avoided acknowledging it
  • she was just lazy

whatever the reason(s), she didn't take care of it in the last six years. i would think due to her displeasure with me (and my last name), it'd have been more important to remove my name from her life -- but i guess not. (one might feel inclined to point out my extended time of having the stuff tamara left behind around, but i would counter that we had very different views on our divorce. she has (absurdly) claimed she hated everything about me and life with me so much, she had to develop eating disorders after she left me. i, on the other hand, felt betrayed and depressed and sad. since she was "purging" me from her life, it seems like my name on a bank account should have been a part of that process.)

as much as i would have gotten some amount of sadistic pleasure from just walking in and closing the account (especially given everything she did to me with the affair and in the divorce), i'm just not that kind of guy. so i used a potts proxy to get in touch with tamara to see if she would either close the account or sign the paperwork. she replied quickly and said she could meet sue somewhere and sign the paper. but they weren't handing the paper out, so i had to get sue to send another email telling her she needed to go by the bank and sign the paper (which would be simple and convenient since it's within a few minutes of the part of town she lives in). no response. after about a week, sue sent another email asking her to take care of it soon or i was going to close the account. no response. after another couple of weeks, i had sue email her and say if she didn't close it, sign the paperwork, or get in touch and set a timeline by friday the 13th (it being a month since the first email), i was going to go in and close the account. no response. thursday evening (the 12th) i asked sue to call her. she had to leave a voicemail. i wasn't too excited about taking care of things by closing the account, but it needed to be done. then friday morning sue called me and said tamara had gotten in touch with her. did she say anything about not communicating for a month? no. she just said it's not convenient for her during business hours, but she could take care of it the week of thanksgiving. so...she got a reprieve of two more weeks.

from entries i made since then, you can see she didn't take care of it the week of thanksgiving. but finally, the week after thanksgiving, she got around to doing what should have taken maybe 30 minutes out of one day. and it only took her a few days shy of two months.

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Oddly enough I have almost the same situation with my ex. I signed papers to take me off of his credit union account almost a year ago. All he has to do is sign one little paper and it's done. I know he goes in there all the time as he is self-employed, therefore has no direct deposit. He just can't ever seem to remember. I keep threatening to go in there one day and empty/close the account, since, as you pointed out, is something I actually have the power to do. Sadly, I'm also not that kind of person. I sometimes wish I was. :)

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