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Still Having Problems With TIAA-Cref? Tell Us Now

This article was written by in Consumer. 13 comments.


On July 20, TIAA-Cref will be holding its annual participant meeting. There is an effort underway to encourage the company to be more socially responsible and accountable to its customers, and representatives will be attending the meeting to bring any common problems directly to the board’s attention.

Are you having customer service problems with TIAA-Cref? Please see the instructions below. Here are my past notable experiences with the company.

In March 2006, I scheduled a transfer from ING Direct to create my first SEP IRA on April 7, leaving enough time for the account to be created before the tax deadline. I noticed the problem the day after the account should have been created. The company did not create the account nor did they deduct funds from my ING account. There was still a week before the tax deadline, so I was not yet up in arms.

By April 18, 2006, the TIAA-Cref account had been created but they still did not deduct my funds. This was after the tax deadline, so I was very concerned that the funds would not be attributed to my 2005 SEP IRA. I had difficulties getting the correct department on the phone.

My 2005 SEP IRA was not funded until April 28, 2006, and my level of concern was much higher. I spoke to an account representative who assured me that even though they were late, my money would be applied to 2005′s tax year and I would get April 7′s price for the investment. My account information online confirmed this.

Fast forward to January 2007. I received my received my tax forms from TIAA-Cref which indicated my SEP applied to the 2006 tax year. I did eventually have this issue resolved, but it surfaced only one week after I reported that thousands of people were having problems with TIAA-Cref. Customers could not access their money, didn’t receive their payments, and couldn’t get in touch with any customer service representative who could fix the problems.

The company acknowledged the problems and attributed the mishaps to implementation of a new computer system. This excuse carried on as the problems did for at least a year, with updated in March and June 2007. Even today, visitors are still voicing their concerns with TIAA-Cref in these comments this year.

Most people’s problems were a lot more frustrating than mine, involving restricted access to money and missing payments from the company. Although I think it may be too late, Neil Wollman, an author who has been following TIAA-Cref’s activities as a socially responsible company over the past twenty-five years, is looking to speak up for consumers at the company’s annual meeting later this month.

If you are currently having issues with TIAA-Cref that you have not been able to resolve by going through the normal channels, please let me know by commenting here using an email address where you can be reached or email me directly at flexo at this domain name. I will pass your information along to Mr. Wollman who will speak to the board of directors on your behalf.

Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published July 3, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar ObliviousInvestor

Back when I worked as a financial advisor, I had a few coworkers who wouldn’t even bother with potential clients who had 403(b)s at TIAA-CREF due to the near impossibility of getting the money rolled over into an IRA.

I have a distinct memory of one saying over lunch, “Without the Jaws of Life, it’s just not gonna happen.”

Happy to hear that you and Mr. Wollman are taking them up on some of their service issues.

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avatar tiaa employee

You guys are idots, I left a comment as a employee of TIAA resolution manager a comment that TIAA does not want others to know because it forces them to answer questions within 48 hours and it is not allowed to be posted. Safe to say this site is only intended to her problems and not solutions to them.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,465 (Platinum)

If you are acting and posting as a representative of TIAA-CREF, it’s not wise to call your customers idiots.

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avatar Greg

My Mom has a pension from TIAA-CREF, and I have a retail mutual fund account with them.
We haven’t had any problems dealing with them, but neither have we had any complex
issues to challenge them with, LoL……..

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avatar Laura Miles

TIAA-CREF has misallocated funds resulting in the loss of nearly my entire fund. I contacted the SEC Commission and they concurred that TIAA-CREF is not acting honorably. SEC suggested I take it to the next level. I am not in a mediation phase with FINRA. Up to now, I can only say that TIAA-CREF should not be trusted. They are really disorganized… When I discovered the problem, they should I should fax them documentation and I would hear back in 72 hours… I dod not hear back for over 10 days… I contacted them again and they said their fax machine had been broken for days on end. Has anyone visited their offices? Are they working out of a garage or something? It is unheard of that such a large financial institution handling so much money doesn’t even have a functioning fax machine.

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avatar Laura Miles

TIAA-CREF has misallocated funds resulting in the loss of nearly my entire fund. I contacted the SEC Commission and they concurred that TIAA-CREF is not acting honorably. SEC suggested I take it to the next level. I am not in a mediation phase with FINRA. Up to now, I can only say that TIAA-CREF should not be trusted. They are really disorganized… When I discovered the problem, they should I should fax them documentation and I would hear back in 72 hours… I dod not hear back for over 10 days… I contacted them again and they said their fax machine had been broken for days on end. Has anyone visited their offices? Are they working out of a garage or something? It is unheard of that such a large financial institution handling so much money doesn't even have a functioning fax machine.

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avatar dave beitman

Today Sunday 1/24/10
I tried to shift money several times (like 10). All I got was “the website certificate is no longer valid.” VEry frustrating!!!!!!!!!!!
I’ll lose money if I don’t get it out. Does TIAA have a way to compensate for losses like this?

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avatar John

My wife sent in a contribution for her IRA at the beginning of April 2009 for her tax year 2008. The item was never posted to her account. In July she received the envelope back, return to sender PO box closed!! We have spent several hours on the phone on several occasions and wrote customer service with copies of the envelop, check and deposit slip (with the same address on it) trying to get the $5,000 posted to the tax year 2008. We finally seemed to get it worked out and sent in another $5,000 check. This January we got a tax statement from them stating it was posted to 2009 tax year. Another couple of hours on the phone did not get this resolved. Now it’s getting near April 15, 2010 and we don’t know what to do about the 2009 contribution. Help!?!

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avatar Joy Brown

My sister died gave me all papers before she died I was listed as beneficiary as TIAA from 1987 in 2000 she started with CREF now they say it will go to her estate. Have letter from company stating “The beneficiary designation in effect for your original TIAA annuity contract will also apply to this new annuity certificate” But they said estate. Before my sister died she checked with them by phone that her beneficiaries were in order. It has been five weeks. I will be hiring a lawyer for this soon.

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avatar Luisa Ubiera

I was trying to obtain a loan through my TIAA-CREF, all the necessary paperwork were provided and faxed, delivery of documentations were confirmed, but I encounter a dead-end, unfortunately the contact person of my former employer was unable to be located to confirm that i was no longer employed by the company (I left the company over 20yrs ago). I placed numerous calls to seek a solution and I asked if a notarized letter from my present employer as well a my 1040 tax form would be recognized, (which I feel are reputable documents) and was decline due to the policies at TIAA. I respect policies as my line of work is to implement them, but my company takes accountability of their limitations and we try to find other means to provide a quality of service. To say the least, till today I haven’t been able to obtain that loan which I desperately need.

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avatar Joy Brown

Sister died left me her TIAA-CREF, WELL i GOT THE TIAA , but they said it hand to be included with the estate. We are talking about $4900.00. My papers stated that the beneficiary from TIAA carry over to the CREF. TIAA said no but I got that in writng with some of my sisters statements.
Had to meet with the TIAA representitive before I could get any money.

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avatar WW

In regard to the TIAA-CREF, in KY. My mother died a couple of years ago and left my father as the beneficiary. However, he claims that TIAA is now getting ready to cut him off from receiving benefits and he will not longer have it unless he takes what he has an reinvests, thereby going through and investor which would be at a cost as opposed to trusting TIAA to invest wisely. As well, he states that after he dies, this would not be included in his estate for my brothers and I, which he would want. It doesn’t look like he is losing money or much anyway on the TIAA, but I am not sure if he is getting cutoff by them, as if they are not investing in that account. I know my mother was getting retirement from TIAA close to 78,000 anually and I would think, depending on the stock market my father should continue receiving such until he dies, then I would like to know what is the best way for us as siblings.

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avatar emeritus 754

I am a long time participant in TIAA-CREF and have been retired since 1998 (interest only at first and minimum distribution subsequently). If I could manage to get completely out of TIAA-CREF tomorrow I would do it in a minute. Two years ago I rolled over all of my CREF investments to a T-C IRA, it took more than two months with constant phone calls, emails and letters to get it done by late afternoon on 31 Dec. Within a few days of finally getting it done I moved it to Fidelity (much, much better choice).That still left me with a sizable amount in TIAA Traditional although about a third was already in a Transfer Payout Annuity (3 more payments to go). Last fall I decided to start another TPA to move another big chunk, because the forms allowed it I chose to direct the annual payments to the Fidelity IRA. As noted above I had been using minimum distribution and for more than five years T-C computed the RMD by including the TPA balances (I have three MDO accounts hence six TPA contracts). Then last month when the monthly RMD went to my bank I found that the accumulations T-C used did not match the total shown on the 12/31/2012 Quarterly report. When I called T-C I was told that in order to have the TPA balances included I would have to re-direct the annual TPA payments to be re-invested in the MDO accounts, they could not tell me where in the contracts this was specified and it is not mentioned in any of the materials pertaining to rollovers. I reluctantly agreed to do the re-investing but insisted that they send me corrected “2013 Minimum distribution option review” forms that would should the accumulation amounts used to compute the RMD. When I got the “corrected” forms, the sum of the three accumulation amounts did not match the total given on 12/31/2012 Quarterly report, about a $50 discrepancy. When I called them their first reaction was that $50 was not much of a discrepancy. Rather than going all the way back and correcting everything they had covered for the errors in the computed RMD by setting up “systematic withdrawals” (although these are still not correct). In their computer system there is a crucial difference between payments classified as RMD payments and “systematic withdrawals”

I also had been told back in January that once the annual payments were re-invested I could then do a rollover (once a year for each of the different TPA payments) of the re-invested amounts to my Fidelity IRA. When I mentioned this to the consultant yesterday I was told that the re-invested amounts would be needed to cover the “systematic withdrawals”, i.e. RMD payments can be taken from TIAA Traditional units (held in the MDO accounts) but the systematic withdrawals could not. When I asked them to go back and process the correct amounts completely as RMD payments they said their system wouldn’t allow it. All of the computer problems that made the news some years ago are still there and the incompetence is still there. T-C still relies on rules and practices that are not disclosed until you run up against them and even then there is no written evidence of them.

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