By WCVB Staff
BOSTON (WCVB) — It all started with a simple phone call more than a decade ago that Shawn Marie Stafford-Long didn’t even remember. In the end, that phone call, which occurred because she’s a Bank of America customer, would cost Stafford-Long more than $2,500.
When the bank refused to help, she called NewsCenter 5.
Shawn Marie Stafford-Long has been with Bank of America for a long time. While she looks at her statements every few months, she hadn’t paid too much attention to a recurring monthly charge, of $18.95, until this spring.
“I noticed it about a month ago, looking through my statements,” she said. “It just caught me that particular day, like ‘I’ve seen this before. What is it?'”
The charge is labeled “Customer Years” but doesn’t have much other information. So Stafford-Long called Bank of America.
“They said it was some sort of insurance policy, they think that’s what I signed up for,” she said.
That explanation fell a dollar short in her book, so Stafford-Long started going through her previous statements. She found the charge every month going back as far as she could – to 2016.
A quick online search turned up several old news articles raising questions about the Customer Years program with each one repeating a similar theme: a Bank of America customer who doesn’t remember authorizing the charge or signing up for any special program and has difficult getting clear answers about what it is.
“They couldn’t tell me what it was,” Stafford-Long said. “I was very upset when I got off the call.”
That’s when Stafford-Long contacted NewsCenter 5 and we reached out to Bank of America. A bank spokesperson confirmed the charge is a monthly premium for an accident insurance policy administered by a company called Coverdell. The Bank of America rep asked Coverdell to call Stafford-Long. They did and told her she agreed to sign up for the insurance policy over the phone – her voice consent was enough. And that phone call happened all the way back in October 2010, which means she’s now paid more than $2,500 for an insurance police she didn’t want or need.
Bank of America says it discontinued the program about ten years ago.
Despite repeated inquiries, no one from Coverdell responded to NewsCenter 5. And since Coverdell says Stafford-Long gave her consent over the phone, Bank of America refused her request for a refund.
It’s a good reminder to take a close look at your bank statements every month and immediately flag charges you don’t recognize.
Stafford-Long has now filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and says she will switch banks.
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