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February 2014


Two years ago, Wells Fargo changed its customer agreement, taking away the rights of customers to resolve disputes with the bank through the typical legal process afforded citizens of the United States. Current Wells Fargo customers tacitly or knowingly agreed to sign away these rights in favor of an arbitration system that favors wealthy corporations.

Although I wrote about the change on Consumerism Commentary, changes like these go largely unnoticed and don’t get a lot of attention in the media, even from consumer-focused outlets.

To be honest, I still have personal and business accounts at Wells Fargo. I’m continuing to look for a credit union that is convenient enough for me to move my primary banking. I’ve opened and closed dozens of bank accounts to review the companies for Consumerism Commentary readers, and one of these days, I will close my account at Wells Fargo.

The process of closing a checking or savings account is thankfully straightforward, and Wells Fargo will not make you jump through hoops in order to complete the process. Before you close your account at Wells Fargo, though, be sure to download the latest version of the Bank Switch Kit and Checklist.

The Bank Switch Kit has specific tips and forms for making sure your account is ready to close. First, you’ll have to make sure you have no automatic deposits or withdrawals. That might involve changing your direct deposit instructions at your job or changing your bill payment accounts. A standard form included in the Kit takes care of the first issue.

After ensuring you have no future deposits or withdrawals, you have to move your balance to zero. If your balance is less than zero, Wells Fargo will not let you close the account before paying what you owe. If you don’t pay what you owe, even if you don’t believe it’s your fault the account is negative, the account will go into collections and it will be more difficult for you to open a bank account anywhere else.

Most likely, your balance is above zero, and you have to clear the balance out before closing the account. With Wells Fargo, you can either transfer the balance to an external bank account linked to your Wells Fargo account. If you don’t have an external bank account linked to your Wells Fargo account, you can add the external account by logging into your account online, selecting “Transfers & Payments” from the menu, then selecting the “Transfers” page.

There are several links on this page to add your non-Wells Fargo account for transfers. It will take a few days to confirm that you own the external account.

If you already have a linked account you can use this page to transfer your full balance out of Wells Fargo into a different financial institution.

Another option for moving your balance to zero is to request an official bank check (a cashier’s check). You can do this in any Wells Fargo branch or you can request a check through the mail. Unfortunately, Wells Fargo charges a fee for cashier’s checks, whether you request them at a branch or through the mail. To request a check through the mail, send a notarized letter requesting the check and the closure of the accounts, and a confirmation of the address on the account, to the following address:

Wells Fargo
350 SW Jefferson Street DP5
Portland, Oregon, 97201

Once the above is complete — you will have no future automatic deposits or withdrawals and your balance is zero — you can officially close the account. If you do not do this step, you will continue to have an account at Wells Fargo with a zero balance. If that’s the case, you could run afoul of minimum balance requirements. You will be charged a monthly fee for your low balance, and your account will have a negative balance. You will owe the bank money.

Make sure you continue the process to close the account. You have three options for doing so.

Option #1: The internet. Log onto your Wells Fargo account online. Select “Contact Us,” a link at the top of every page on wellsfargo.com. On the right side of the Contact page, under “Other Ways to Contact Us,” select “Email Us.” You can choose the account you’d like to close, and choose “Account questions or requests” as the subject of your email.

Leave the next three fields blank (Transaction Date, Transaction Amount, and Account Number), and state in the Questions or Comments box that your account has a zero balance and you would like the bank to close it. Click the Submit button at the bottom of the form and wait for confirmation from Wells Fargo.

Option #2: The phone. Call the bank at 1-800-869-3557. You will be asked to enter your account number right away, and then you’ll be given the options. Choose to speak to a customer service representative to close your account over the phone.

Option #3: In person. Walk into any Wells Fargo branch and a manager can complete the process for you.

Thankfully, the process for closing a Wells Fargo bank account is easier than it is for other banks. Do you plan to close your Wells Fargo checking or savings account? If so, why? If you’ve already closed your account, were you pleased with the process?

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Naked With Cash is an ongoing series at Consumerism Commentary in which readers share their households’ finances with other readers. These participants benefit from the accountability that comes from tracking their finances publicly and the feedback of the four expert Certified Financial Planners (CFPs).

For more information, read this introduction.

This year, we have four participants who will share their financial reports, exposing the results of their financial choices. Each participant is paired with one of our Certified Financial Planners. The experts will provide insight and guidance that will help our participants take their finances to the next level by the end of 2014. Learn about this year’s participants and experts.

Together, Laura and Leon make more than $123,000 a year. They have $44,000 in student debt. They max out contributions to tax-advantaged retirement accounts and hope to begin aggressively paying down debt. They are 28 years old and have no children, but they plan to start a family sometime. Laura has been concerned about their recent financial apathy as a couple, and the two are ready to shake things up. (Read last month’s update.)

After reading Laura and Leon’s comments, you can read commentary from Roger Wohlner, CFP. Roger Wohlner appears courtesy of The Chicago Financial Planner.

Read the full article →

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Naked With Cash is an ongoing series at Consumerism Commentary in which readers share their households’ finances with other readers. These participants benefit from the accountability that comes from tracking their finances publicly and the feedback of the four expert Certified Financial Planners (CFPs).

For more information, read this introduction.

This year, we have four participants who will share their financial reports, exposing the results of their financial choices. Each participant is paired with one of our Certified Financial Planners. The experts will provide insight and guidance that will help our participants take their finances to the next level by the end of 2014. Learn about this year’s participants and experts.

Jake and Allie are 47 and 42, respectively. They have no children, but they do have pets. The two make a combined $140,000 a year and hope to retire early when they are 55 and 50. They love to travel, and plan to move to the mountains upon retirement. Allie is interested in starting a photography business and Jake wants to start his own business as well. (Read their update from last month.)

After reading Jake and Allie’s comments, you can see a Google Hangout they participated in with Neal Frankle. Neal Frankle appears courtesy of Wealth Pilgrim and MCMHA.org.

Read the full article →

{ 10 comments }

Naked With Cash is an ongoing series at Consumerism Commentary in which readers share their households’ finances with other readers. These participants benefit from the accountability that comes from tracking their finances publicly and the feedback of the four expert Certified Financial Planners (CFPs).

For more information, read this introduction.

This year, we have four participants who will share their financial reports, exposing the results of their financial choices. Each participant is paired with one of our Certified Financial Planners. The experts will provide insight and guidance that will help our participants take their finances to the next level by the end of 2014. Learn about this year’s participants and experts.

Brian is a 30-year-old engineer. He has a wife and two young children. He works as a software engineer, and his wife stays at home. They have student loans and a mortgage, and usually pay their credit card balances off each month. Brian and his wife want to be able to retire comfortably and help their children pay for college. (Read Brian’s update from last month.)

After reading Brian’s comments, you can see video commentary from Jeff Rose, CFP. Jeff Rose appears courtesy of Good Financial Cents and Life Insurance By Jeff.

Read the full article →

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Naked With Cash is an ongoing series at Consumerism Commentary in which readers share their households’ finances with other readers. These participants benefit from the accountability that comes from tracking their finances publicly and the feedback of the four expert Certified Financial Planners (CFPs). For more information, read this introduction. This year, we have four ... Continue reading this article…

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An article on The Atlantic brought new research on the growth of income inequality to my attention. The article explains that the cause of today’s income disparity between the wealthy and the rest of the country is explained by the plot of the film When Harry Met Sally — or the increasingly common occurrence of ... Continue reading this article…

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