May 17, 2006

E*Theft @ E*Trade...

On February 2nd of this year someone found out enough information about me to start an account on E*Trade in my name. That is, they convinced E*Trade they were me, then created a new brokerage account, with my SSN and address and everything.

Then the thief immediately filed a change of address on "my" account, so all my mail from E*Trade would go to a local hotel, "attention: Wil Shipley, Check-in 4/1".

The miscreant then ordered an E*Trade debit card, which was supposed to be shipped to "my" new address: the hotel. However, unfortunately for the would-be thief, (a) E*Trade sent me a paper mail confirmation of the change-of-address, which alerted me (and was the only thing E*Trade has done right in this entire story), and (b) E*Trade actually didn't process the change of address in a timely manner, so the debit card and its PIN went to me. Sorry, Mr. e-Criminal! No cash for you!

I called E*Trade on March 17th after getting the change-of-address notice and the shiny new debit card for an account I didn't open, and, after TWICE waiting on hold for THIRTY minutes to talk to an actual person (because, GASP, I didn't have my account number handy when I called), I finally spoke to a guy named Matt M., who is most definitely NOT in their "Risks" group, which is what they call the people at E*Trade who spend their days busily ignoring fraud.

I told Matt my story, gave him the phoney E*Trade account's number, and he mentioned that there was $5,000 in the account. "What?" I said. That makes no sense! "What account did it come from?" Oh, we have no way of knowing that. "REALLY? YOU HAVE NO WAY? MONEY JUST APPEARS IN ACCOUNTS THERE, AND YOU GUYS HAVE NO RECORDS?"

I checked my accounts, but I didn't see any missing $5,000, so I had no idea what kind of scam this thief was running. Was he giving *me* money? "Here, here's $5,000 in an account in your name, and here's a cash card! Go to town!"

Matt said he'd freeze it immediately. I started regretting this within an hour, which is a feeling that would increase as E*Trade screwed me slowly over the next several months.

Matt said he would have someone in the "Risks" group contact me, because you can't just call those guys -- they call you. Ok, fine, I said. I mentioned (again) that the criminal was going to check his mail at the local hotel on April 1, and that that might be an EXCELLENT day for them to have the FBI waiting. Assuming the account-freezing didn't scare him off, which it did.

After speaking to Matt I called Equifax and the other credit-monitoring bureaus, who are very professional and share information with each other, so all I really had to do was call one, and they all told each other to watch out for unusual crap with my name attached to it. I also called the USPS and filed a wire fraud claim, to which the federal government replied in a confidence-inspiring way by sending my seven identical e-mails confirming that they'd gotten my report. (And that was all I've heard from them...)

I also called my bank and told them to watch out for anything unusual, in all my accounts. Finally, I called the hotel, and left voicemail explaining the situation and telling them to call the cops if some Wil Shipley doppleganger appears and asks for his mail.


Slow-forward to April 20th, when my assistant is reconciling my *business* account (yes, Delicious Monster) and it turns out that $5,000 is missing. Hmm! So that's where the money came from -- I thought this was an attack on my personal funds. Silly me.

So I call the bank, and I ask them how them how I can have $5,000 missing when I never wrote a check or anything. I spoke to Stacey P. in the bank's fraud group (after being transferred twice), and she patiently explained that, in fact, the bank will transfer money to anyone with the correct three pieces of information about me and an account in my name at some other institution.

Let me say that again. ANYONE can call the bank and say, "Hi, I'd like to make an ACH transfer from this account to this other account at a different financial institution of ill-repute, and I swear I'm really Wil Shipley," and they'll do it. Just like that. There's no password, no signature, no record.


They advised me to change my bank account number, since, obviously, I can't change my name or SSN, and the thief already knows those. I'm all, "But, uh, that's just, like, a little number. It's not even a secret password. It's printed on every piece of mail you send me, and EVERY FUCKING CHECK I WRITE!" (Which, incidentally, also have my name on them, so basically all anyone has to do is find my SSN, which is used by every damn organization in the world to identify me, and they're good to go.)

Oh, it's ok, cooed, the fraud lady, because the VISA guys have built-in fraud protection, so they'll pay you back the money. Just hold on a second...

...Oh, hi, I'm back, no we won't. It's been over 60 days since they stole the money, so we don't give a damn. Sorry.

WHAT?! But I told you guys a month ago my identity had been stolen!

"Oh, well, there's a federal law, see...."

Now, I may be an idiot, but I'm going to guess the federal law does NOT say, "Hey, VISA, don't re-imburse people who didn't discover they had money stolen after 60 days!" I'm going to guess that, in fact, what it says is, "Hey, VISA, you are required to re-imburse people in the first 60 days, damn you, because we're tired of this crap." If there even IS a federal law, that is. I didn't actually get the law number.

"Well, just contact E*Trade and have them transfer back the money!" But, E*Trade claims they have no idea where it came from! "That's impossible -- E*Trade is the one who initiated the ACH transfer, at the request of the fake Wil Shipley. They must know!"

I immediately called Matt B. at E*Trade again and left him a message, since it'd been over a month and no one from E*Trade's risks group had contacted me. I'd like to point out even the HOTEL had called me back at this point. But not E*Trade. One thing E*Trade apparently didn't expect is I keep detailed logs of all phone calls I make of this sort, so if there's any problem later I can refer back to exact events and people and dates. Surprise!


Seven days later (April 27th) I called E*Trade again, and finally got a call back from Gary S., who I initially thought was in the risks group, but now I'm not so sure. He said, "I don't see the problem, you have your money, what do you want?" I pointed out that I did not, in fact, have my money. He was all, "Sure you do." I pointed out that I had the bank account in front of me, and the money was not in it.

"Oh, hold please..." Minutes later, he returned, slightly chagrined, and said they oddly had NOT released the funds, but that he would do so and call back the next day. CONFIDENCE INSPIRING!

"Can I have your direct number, so I can talk to you next time?" Oh, no, you can't -- we don't give out the numbers of people in the Risks group. (You know, because if we did, then angry customers who've had their money stolen could, you know, get it resolved.)


Hey, guess what two events did NOT happen on April 28th!


On May 15th I called Matt at E*Trade again, and left a slightly angrier message. I'd like to point out that up to this point I hadn't raised my voice at anyone. This message said, in part, it's been two months since I told you that you guys had my stolen money, and you still have my money, and you're making interest on it, and if I don't get my money inside of a week I'm going to call the FBI and tell them that you've generated an illegal transfer and won't release my funds back to me, and we'll see what they have to say.

Matt called me back the same day and left me an apologetic message! Hey, the Dark Side is faster! Matt said that my bank should just "reverse the ACH," as that'd be the simplest way to go. I called my banker and she wasn't familiar with that, but said she'd look into it. She called the next day and left a message saying, "Why doesn't E*Trade just credit your account?"

I finally got hold of Matt yesterday (May 16th) and we spoke for a while, and he indicated that they didn't know where they funds were from and weren't sure how to verify my identity at this point. "Matt," I said, "you KNOW the funds are from my business account. All I'm asking is you put them back from where you got them. Whether or not I'm the REAL Wil Shipley doesn't even matter, in this case! Just undo the damage you did! Put the money back from where you took it!"

He said he couldn't do this, because they needed to know, uh, mumble, something about who initiated the initial transfer, and, besides, the account was locked, and they couldn't transfer funds from locked accounts. "Well, uh, I'm guessing those rules are E*Trade's rules, not, say, immutable laws of the universe, and I'm guessing there is SOMEONE there who can do whatever and bypass whatever, and I want the money back."

Matt said he'd have someone in the Risks group call me. I indicated I'd heard this many times over several months, but that even poor, under-informed Gary didn't appear to really be from the Risks group (he had said something like, "I'll check with Risks and get back to you" at one point, although I admit I could be mistaken on this, my notes aren't perfectly clear here).


This brings us to today. E*Trade still has $5,000 of my money, plus the interest they've earned on it. Unsurprisingly, I haven't gotten a call from anyone in their Risks group today. In fact, so far E*Trade has indicated NO intention to actually make any effort to undo what they've done, have repeatedly told me they'd get back to me and failed to do so, have followed NO leads to actually find who stole my identity (he was going to show up at the hotel!), have apparently not called any authorities about this. In general their attitude is, "Well, good luck solving this on your own! We're pretty happy where we are, actually, since, you know, we make interest on that money of yours."

I'm not impressed, E*Trade. You've got five days.


Update: A most-helpful G. Wong, from the E*Trade "Fraud Unit" (I'm not sure why everyone else there called it the "Risks Unit") called me on the 18th and stepped me through what normally happens in cases like mine (and did not happen in this case); he said he has worked with Bank of America many times on fraud and normally BofA knows what to do, but in this case he felt the bank didn't handle it correctly, and E*Trade had been, I guess, waiting for the bank to figure it out. I'm not in a position to assign blame, so I'm just reporting what I've been told.

He promised to work with my bank and to actually call my business banker, which he did! He also followed up with me a few days later to let me know things were in process. I admit I don't have notes from this latter call because I was just woken up, so he may have, at that time, said that the money was back, but I don't recall him saying so.

But, out of curiosity, I checked my account, and on the 22nd I was, FINALLY, credited the missing $5,000. Sure, I've lost the interest on that money, I've stressed about this for months, I've spent countless hours on the phone getting the wrong information from Bank of America and from E*Trade, and nobody from E*Trade returned my calls until I made a huge stink.

But in the end, things got put back in order. So, big ups to Mr. Wong, who did what was wight. (Couldn't resist!)



Anonymous Aaron Jacobs said...

Wow, that sounds like a hell of an ordeal. Good luck with that, and please make sure to post about the resolution so maybe I (and others) can feel better about the world. That is, of course, assuming it works out well.

May 17, 2006 2:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sue them now, maybe you can get your money with all interest back. you will get only 5k back if they really do this in next five days.

May 17, 2006 2:14 PM

Anonymous Justin Anderson said...

Geez, I hope this all works out for you, and soon.

May 17, 2006 2:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get the FBI on this one... it sounds like there's enough evidence and trails that they can quickly nab the creep before they strike again. And now e*trade is off my list of places to do business with. Not inspiring at all...

May 17, 2006 2:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me say that again. ANYONE can call the bank and say, "Hi, I'd like to make an ACH transfer from this account to this other account at a different financial institution of ill-repute, and I swear I'm really Wil Shipley," and they'll do it. Just like that. There's no password, no signature, no record.


They advised me to change my bank account number, since, obviously, I can't change my name or SSN, and the thief already knows those. I'm all, "But, uh, that's just, like, a little number. It's not even a secret password. It's printed on every piece of mail you send me, and EVERY FUCKING CHECK I WRITE!" (Which, incidentally, also have my name on them, so basically all anyone has to do is find my SSN, which is used by every damn organization in the world to identify me, and they're good to go.)

That's insane, that sort of system would get failing marks in a computer security class, and this is how they protect your money?

Maybe the people hiding it in their mattresses aren't kooks after all.

May 17, 2006 2:33 PM

Blogger Ripsy said...

You should contact the FBI for sure, but also try calling someone else at your bank. Also, tell the people at e*trade that you've contacted your attorney and will be pursuing legal action if they do not get their act together, it makes a difference.

May 17, 2006 2:49 PM

Blogger Eric Jasso said...

Amazing. They can shift your money around like should HEAR HOW Effin' hard it was when I tried to have phone company send my Mom's phone bill to my house so I could START PAYING IT.

They claimed that they don't have the system set up so people can PAY bill at another address, and suggested I GIVE hear years worth of payment money so SHE could pay it. Unbelievable.

May 17, 2006 2:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Horrifying. Did the guy actually check in at the hotel?

May 17, 2006 3:02 PM

Blogger Aaron Tait said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

May 17, 2006 3:02 PM

Blogger Aaron Tait said...

I think you should send E*Trade a nastigram!

May 17, 2006 3:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

has it occurred to you that "Check-in 4/1" is uh, "Check-in April Fools"?

of course... 5000$US is not exactly fooling around but uh, was this a big joke?

May 17, 2006 3:03 PM

Anonymous Henrik Nørgaard Hansen said...

You said: "I keep detailed logs of all phone calls I make of this sort" — it can not be stressed how important that is. It is a very-very good way to defend oneself when dealing with c******* b********* like these.

Personaly I think that you are too nice to these people. Don't be polite when they repeatedly ignore you and does not act responsibly.

Good luck

May 17, 2006 3:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

when my garage was broken into and the thieves took my stuff the police also said the same thing: good luck. after i did my own legwork i found out that some of my stolen stuff was at a used record store being appraised. and they were expecting the thieves to come back the next day for the cash. when i called the cops back they seemed floored that i had done all this work on my own. that i had done their jobs for them. one of the thieves was arrested at the record store when they came back.

my lesson learned: cops are too busy to really care.

May 17, 2006 3:25 PM

Blogger eMeidi said...

Wil, you gotta move to Europe. The european way of doing transfers:

- no Checks
- no Social Security Number on it

Almost anyone is using internet for wire transfers. Crédit Suisse, my bank of trust, secures login the following way:

- RSA token with a 6-digit code, changing every ~1min
- personal password
- contract number

Unless someone gets a keylogging trojan on your PC or does a profound man in the middle-attack, your online banking is safe.

Good look doing money businesses in good, old USA ;-)

May 17, 2006 3:33 PM

Blogger Mont Rothstein said...


I have found that being polite is the best policy, even when it is hard.


A couple of suggestions.

Go up the food chain, supervisors have more power and are available (even if they claim not to be). Repeatedly dealing with the unempowered usually gets you caught in their endless loop of scripted responses.

Even more important, never hang up. Most call center personel are expressly forbidden from hanging up on you. Simply stay on the line until they think of a new solution. Someone I know successfully used this technique to get insurance companies to hand over millions of dollars they owed to pharmacies. It works very well.

May 17, 2006 3:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right now, go call your local police department. This is what you should have been doing since day one. Someone steals $5k from you and you don't call the cops? Are you crazy?

Do not pass go, do not collect $200, sure and hell, don't wait 5 more days. Call the cops man. Had you called them in the first place they may have actually done something about the hotel check in and such.

May 17, 2006 3:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


If you haven't already, I would withdraw the money from that bank account and take the business elsewhere.

May 17, 2006 4:05 PM

Anonymous Daniel J. Luke said...

The reason why it is this crappy is becuase the penalties for this sort of thing aren't high enough (the cost of making the system better outweighs the cost of just dealing with the brokenness).

It would probably be a good idea to file an FTC complaint ($.startup?Z_ORG_CODE=PU03), and your state's attorney general's office (consumer protection division)may be able to put some pressure on E*Trade (if it operates like the one in my state).

... and if my suggestions help at all, can I come visit your car some time? /drool/

May 17, 2006 4:09 PM

Blogger Aurynn said...

You have been dugg, sir! Loud is the Voice of the Many!

May 17, 2006 4:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude. Bummer.

It's amazing that someone could that easily move $5000 out of your bank account. I can't even make changes to our Verizon cell phone account because my wife's name is on the account but mine is not!

I wouldn't hold out a lot of hope of catching the guy, but there's no good reason you shouldn't get your money back with apologies from both your bank and E*Trade for letting it take so long.

May 17, 2006 5:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evil evil evil.

I'm also a victim of identity fraud but not quite as heinous.

I called Fidelity to ask if they could have someone call me if anyone tried to change my address etc. They said no. By the time you get the snail mail letter it's usually too late!

One cool thing about Fidelity - but I'm not sure it's totally foolproof - is that you can make a "customer id" that is not your ssn, that someone is required to know. I don't work for Fidelity by the way.

That wire transfer story. Seems insane. B of A requires filling out paperwork to do a wire transfer. So does Fidelity. I'm pretty shocked at that.

Inside job?

I suggest you contact Etrade's PR dept. That could help move things along.

May 17, 2006 5:50 PM

Anonymous Aaron Jensen said...

Do *not*, do *not*, do *not* wait five days. Call them every day until you get somebody who will take ownership.

May 17, 2006 6:10 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

B of A is my bank... amazingly (and I pointed this out to them), they require a card on file for me to make wire transfers remotely, and I have to go in and fill out a huge form every time I want to wire money to anyone (my assistant has tried to do it for me)...

BUT, this wasn't a wire transfer, it was an ACH. Don't ask me what an ACH is, but apparently it's like an inter-bank transfer that does NOT require all that paperwork. It's what your credit card company does when you pay your bill automatically, I'm told. Or might do. Or something like that.

May 17, 2006 6:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this. My brokerage just got bought out by Etrade and at first i was just going to stick around due to being lazy, but from this story as well as other places, I am transfering everything out of this company. Right now when i call the customer service it is really quick, but it is a dedicated line for the former company. I bet in a year when they figure we are assimilated, it will get horrible.

May 17, 2006 8:51 PM

Anonymous VIP3RT3Q said...

Wil, if I were you, I would:

A)Call every day, all day until I got someone from E*Trade on the phone to make things happen.

B)Even after getting someone on E*Trade to take responsibility and release/return the money back to your business account, I would file a civil lawsuit against E*Trade. Better yet, find out if there are any other peopel across America who have also been screwed by E*Trade and file a Class Action lawsuit. Strength in numbers will always make things happen faster. Not only will you get that $5,000 back, but you could walk away with a couple hundred thousand dollars that you could use to keep building Delicious Monster with......

May 17, 2006 8:52 PM

Anonymous Trajan said...

Just involve the feds on financial fraud and tell them that e*trade is involved and so is your bank. That's it. That should get their asses moving.

May 17, 2006 9:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A frind used this approach when a local utility tore up his property and spilled trasmission fluid all over his yard and driveway.

Write a very nice letter to them that lays out all of the particulars of the situation, along with the names and and dates of particular people you spoke with. However, the entire first page ofthe letter should be your CC list. Include all local and national media contacts, the FTC, the FDIC, all local and state political contacts (mayor, governor, Sec-state, congressmen, local police, FBI, Better Business Bureau, etc.


Then send it to all of them. My friend got a call from the utility's CEO within 2 days, and they had workers out ripping up his driveway to replace it 12 hours after that. No joke. All it takes is one of those people on your list to think it's somehting they can use to advance their own career, and those guys are toast.

They'll respond.

May 17, 2006 10:54 PM

Anonymous Jon Shea said...

Every bank I've ever used has dubious authentication protocols. Ideally, I'd like multifactor authentication with some kind of "smart card" and a secret code, and I'd like lost password recovery to be an enormous hassle. In reality, it's never harder than "Last four of your social, your ZIP code, and your phone number, thank you."

I used to bank of E*Trade. I left them because of 1) the long phone waits, 2) the offered only debit cards, and not ATM cards, 3) they hit me with too many fees. Also, I have a worthless stock that I'd like the certificate to so that I can close my brokerage account. I've requested it 5 times, and every time they say they'll take care of it right away, and then it never happens. E*Trade used to be a great bank, but I think they've grown too big.

I now bank with Bank of Internet USA. Horrible name, but they're a wonderful bank. They're prompt on the phone, they give me a card that doesn't work at all without a PIN, they reimburse $7 a month in other bank's ATM fees, and their interest rate is outrageous (3% on a checking account?!).

Anyone who needs a savings account should look into Emigrant Direct or ING Direct.

Why do you bank with Bank of America? I've heard nothing but bad things about them, and the interest rate on their "savings account" is _criminal_. It was 0.5% last I checked. This is clearly a bank that is not interested in its customer's well being.

Other unsolicited security advice: I do everything online, and I've requested that everyone (banks, credit cards, utilities, etc) refrain from mailing me anything. Mail is the #1 source of identity theft information. I use "Pay Safe" temporary credit card numbers for all online purchases, because I think negligent companies are on their way to being the #1 source of identity theft.

May 17, 2006 11:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This just gets to one of my personal rules. When someone screws up, you don't bother with the phone, cause they can always hang up, best to talk to someone straight to their face, that way they can't get away, and you can see instantly when they're BS you.

May 18, 2006 12:21 AM

Blogger Paul Davidson said...

Social security numbers are a really bad idea. Only the geniuses that make up the government would come up with a universal ID number that, once leaked, gives access to nearly your entire life.

May 18, 2006 1:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering why I never received your E*Trade debit card. Damn you.

BoA fisted me with some fraudlent ACH transfers that never got resolved. I was only 17 at the time and didn't really pursue it much (it was some $200 odd dollars, not $5000 mind you). I love banks.

May 18, 2006 1:22 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you even personally bother with this ? A lawyer would love this stuff and he would send his bill to E*Trust not to you.

May 18, 2006 2:42 AM

Blogger Brian said...


You want this fixed fast? You should use the equivalent of the local TV station's consumer reporter...

Go tell CNet your story (if they haven't picked it up already). They'll have it plastered on their front page in no time, and ETrade will fall over themselves to get it fixed.

May 18, 2006 5:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've had a similar issue, although in my case the amount in question is only 180€. I've been trying for six month to get it back. Basically it seems that if someone screws you, the companies of which you are a so-called client will screw you as well and there's nothing you can do about it. At least, nothing I know of. In short, life sucks and people are schmucks.

May 18, 2006 7:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is worthy of a dramaticized TV show starring smooth-looking actors you've never heard of on Fox.

May 18, 2006 8:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow what a mess!! Why don't you contact your bank from which the funds were transfered to E*trade? Your bank suppose to help you in the first place. You contacting Etrade and complaining about it without understanding the process, is not the correct way to go.
If you want to resolve this issue fast contact your bank ask them to talk to ETRADE. BOA is your bank they need to help you somehow.

May 18, 2006 10:51 AM

Anonymous Daniel J. Luke said...

ACH = Automated Clearing House

May 18, 2006 12:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You sure blast etrade, but it sounds like it was your bank that gave your money to someone who wasn't you. Why don't you tell us who your bank is 50 times, so we can all hate them too?

May 18, 2006 12:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me do the honor.
Mr Shipley's bank is B of A - Bank of America

May 18, 2006 12:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To assume that a financial institution would not have some sort of security is proposterous. Any bank that u have to call ask for verifing information. From what i hear sounds like someone isnt shreading there precious info when they through it away.......

May 18, 2006 12:53 PM

Anonymous Joe B said...

When you ultimately transfer your accounts away from E*TRADE, if you find a brokerage that doesn't suck, let us know because I'll be closing my E*TRADE account and following you there.

May 18, 2006 12:58 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

I don't blast Bank of America because I've had a wonderful relationship with them for ten years. During that time they've done things like come out to my café to have me sign papers (instead of making me go to them), paid overdrafts without being asked and without any penalty, and set up a $150,000 line of credit over the phone in one day in a single call.

In this matter it may be that Bank of America should have taken a more active role. I don't know, I'm obviously not a fraud expert. What I do know is that they've returned my calls within hours every time they said they would, and followed up with me.

It goes a long way with me if you are actually TRYING to help me, or even act like it, even if you don't get the results I want immediately. I'm a pretty forgiving dude.

I should note that I got a call from a new guy at E*Trade in the fraud group today, and he seemed very, very helpful and explained what he was going to do to get my money back and what steps I might take as well, and said he'd work with Bank of America today and call me back when he gets some status.

I wish I'd talked to this new guy sooner. Assuming he follows through, I'll make an update to the main post, but hopefully I'll be forgiven if I'm a little conservative in my hope.

May 18, 2006 1:24 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

If there's a TV movie, I want to be played by George Clooney. Or N.P.H.

May 18, 2006 1:25 PM

Anonymous oier said...

Maybe this can help you:

May 18, 2006 1:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work at a Brokerage firm (not E*Trade) and the thing that puts the fear of God in these places is the SEC and the NASD.

You also should report the ID Theft to the FTC at 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338).

Last, you might want to file a complaint with your State's Office of Attorney General.

So I would file a complaint with these agencies and mention it to ET as often as you can.

May 18, 2006 7:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had bad luck with E*Trade too.
A number of years ago I had a company created E*Trade account for my options and ESPP shares. One day I tried to wire transfer 8K from my account which had a balance of 10K. It was supposed to be done by the next day. The next day, my bank account didn't have the 8K and my E*Trade account only showed 4K.
Needless to say, I was pretty scared/pissed/annoyed and agitated.
When I called E*Trade to figure out what happened, customer support told me that my account has two internal parts and neither one had enough to cover the transfer. They were fixing it.
Then he gave me the scariest quote ever.
"Don't worry, it's just an internal software problem"
WTF? Internal software problem which takes 6K from my account with no record. It took days to straighten it all out.

I've never done any business with E*Trade since .

May 18, 2006 7:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you write checks against your account? Can't you simply write a check that takes the funds from your Etrade account and deposit that to your Bank?

Robert N.

May 18, 2006 8:52 PM

Blogger ---deleted--- said...

When assembled, comments suggest a quite powerful speech:

1) I've called my attorney and am going towards legal action

2) I've warned SEC and NSAD

3) I'm running the story online

May 19, 2006 3:06 AM

Anonymous Robert Nicholson said...

Having read this story I went into my local BoA today and enquired about this ACH transfer and they swore blind to me that you needed a lot more information to complete such a transfer. He left me with the impression that it simply isn't possible. Do you know if this is because your Bank is still using Seafirst policies?

May 19, 2006 8:22 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What account did it come from?" Oh, we have no way of knowing that. "REALLY? YOU HAVE NO WAY? MONEY JUST APPEARS IN ACCOUNTS THERE, AND YOU GUYS HAVE NO RECORDS?"

E*Trade knows where the money came from, but Matt did not because E*Trade prevents many employees from having access to ACH data. I had this problem after a credit card firm said I had missed a payment that I had made on-line. They said the payment was rejected by the bank; I asked what bank rejected it (if it was mine, then I would check with them). The rep did not know; she didn't have access to that data.

Apparently it is hard to track down. I challenged the late-payment fee in writing unless they told me what bank rejected it. The CC firm credited me the fee rather than provide the info.

May 19, 2006 9:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

when i called the cops back they seemed floored that i had done all this work on my own. that i had done their jobs for them. one of the thieves was arrested at the record store when they came back.

my lesson learned: cops are too busy to really care

They cared enough to come arrest the guy at the record store on your say so. Few PDs have the resources to investigate non-violent robberies. Even fraud in the six-figure range is hard to deal with. At Columbia U. in the 1990s an employee defrauded and embezzled 100Ks of meals, equipment, and cash. When caught he paid some restitution but served weekends only in jail. Why such a light sentence? Prosecutors said that if he fled he would virtually impossible to re-arrest. Few PDs would put any effort into searching for a non-violent offender.

May 19, 2006 9:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sue them now, maybe you can get your money with all interest back. you will get only 5k back if they really do this in next five days.

Small claims court might work, but attorney's fees will quickly exceed the 5K.

May 19, 2006 9:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wil - Contact the US Postal Inspection Service Seattle field office at 206-442-6300. They have Special Agents ready to help. Put your tax dollars to work for you.

May 21, 2006 3:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is actually **easier** to initiate an ACH transfer than what Wil suggests here; it can be as simple as knowing your checking account number and bank routing number.

Anyone concerned about unauthorized and/or fraudulent ACH transfers should contact their bank to get an ACH block placed on the relevant accounts. This will block all ACH transfers out of the account. If you need to allow some ACH transfers (such as auto-payment for a credit card), it may be possible to allow transfers only to a pre-approved list of accounts.

May 21, 2006 11:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Let me say that again. ANYONE can call the bank and say, "Hi, I'd like to make an ACH transfer from this account to this other account at a different financial institution of ill-repute, and I swear I'm really Wil Shipley," and they'll do it. Just like that. There's no password, no signature, no record."


Actually, no. There is no requirement for a SSN. All they have to know to take money out of your account is the account number and the bank routing number. Printed on every check, there is no security at all for the consumer aside from the 60 day window to protest.

May 22, 2006 2:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

E trade handles all of Apple's employee stock purchase plan accounts. Perhaps Apple should start looking for a more reliable vendor for that business? After all, there are so many to choose from.


May 22, 2006 3:29 PM

Anonymous Mark Stultz said...

Have you seen this Cocoa developer.

May 22, 2006 3:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I wouldn't bother with any further communication to E-Trade except for a summons. As soon as any paperwork hits their legal department, you'd better believe they'll get it fixed ASAP.


May 22, 2006 3:30 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Mark: Yes, I've seen that cocoa developer.

May 22, 2006 3:36 PM

Anonymous Houman said...

Let's Burn The Fuckers!!!

May 22, 2006 4:14 PM

Anonymous alan said...

One of the biggest scams that the banking and credit card industry has perpetrated is to convince their own customers that the account holder is the victim of identity theft.

Let me tell you... If someone opens a false account in my name and kites a bunch of bad checks, the bank should be the victim - not me. And if some jerk phones up e*trade and wires $5k out of Wil's account then e*trade is the victim - not Wil.

Through a campaign of fear mongering, they convinced us to be afraid of identity theft (aarrrggh!, someone is taking my identity!). Once we were afraid we were one step away from being victims. And once we accepted the victim role, we got screwed.


Now when this crap happens, it's my credit rating that is sent into the toilet. Or Wil's $5K that gets frozen, or worse... what if you needed that money to pay your mortgage?

As software developers, we all know how to make this stuff work rock solid, but Social Security Numbers? "Can I have your mother's maiden name for verification?" Are you kidding me? This is their idea of "security"???

If the banks actually ended up paying for all the stupid things they do that LET PEOPLE TAKE MONEY from poorly secured accounts then maybe, just maybe, they'd do something about it. But to add insult to injury, the bank will probably be happy to sell you their "gold credit watch" service for $49/year. I.e., they want you to pay to protect yourself from their lax practices.

I'm just trying to change the way that people think about this crap. The bank was the victim of the identity theft. Wil, you were the victim of the bank.

May 22, 2006 11:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can take care of them for you, they won't bother you anymore...
Clean and cheap, no evidence...

May 23, 2006 2:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL @ the guy about moving to Europe. It's the same here in Canada pretty much, the banks will fall over backwards and kiss your ass like you wouldn't believe IF this ever happened, which of course wouldn't. My bank tellers know me personally and in order to do anything on the phone you need to jump through about 10 hoops. Also there's very little on a cheque that would be useful.

Good luck with this Wil. I'd agree with most of the people here to start calling some serious authority figures. Don't live in the states so I can't say who, but FBI and that postal service authority thing someone mentioned sound pretty good to me!

May 23, 2006 10:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been over 5 days. What happened?

May 24, 2006 2:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having worked in the Finance industry the other thing that scares banks is "Know Your Customer". Its a huge deal these days about preventing money laundering and many financial institutions get hit with big fines for not having the right procedures in place. Where I worked, every single employee, including contractors, had to complete an online tutorial about KYC and Money Laundering. I was in IT, but I believe kitchen staff were expected to do it as well.

Anyway if E*Trade opened account under your name and it wasn't you and worse couldn't identify where he money came from, then their KYC / Money Laundering prevention is seriously faulty and should be reported to the SEC.

May 25, 2006 4:46 PM

Anonymous E*Rip-Off@E*Trade said...

That great ETrade Service/Communications!
It took them 6 months to close my account, many telephone hours of we'll take care it. Meanwhile they sold some stock and collected $520 in service charges.
An automated E*Rip-Off.

May 26, 2006 11:18 AM

Anonymous Former E*T Employee said...

Now that you have your money back, where's your update? Seems that the financial institutions (E*T / B of A) aren't really to blame after all... One thing you did right is not take the advice of the (I'm sure well meaning but misinformed) bloggers. Still wondering why you didn't reply to my PM offer to assist you the day that you created this blog.

May 26, 2006 4:40 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Former: I'm not sure how you determined I have my money back... psychic? At any rate, I had a lot of very generous offers of assistance, but since I finally got some traction at E*Trade itself, I decided to give them their week.

And the update is happening... now!

May 26, 2006 6:02 PM

Anonymous former E*T employee said...

It would be highly unlikely after this amount of time that your issues would remain unresolved, so I just assume you have your money back. If not, I'm wrong but I was waiting to hear how it came out.

May 26, 2006 7:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ACH is easy to use IF you're setup to do that sort of transfers. Generally, banks won't let you do ach unless you're a business and you've gone through their risk analysis. However, that's not exactly hard for someone like E*trade. And once you have that ACH access, you need something (remotely) like the account holder's name, and their account & routing number. The SSN really never enters into it. The only real control is trust in the party making the initiation.

Depending on exactly which sort of ACH, you have between 2 and 60 days to dispute what happened - If it's a business transaction code it's the lower end of the spectrum, since there are supposed to be tighter controls on those accounts.

You should have been able to go into BoA in that time and advise them that this was not an authorized transfer, sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury, and BoA would then be able to return the ACH and grab your money back. E*trade could dishonor that return, but that doesn't happen often.

The real security problem is that someone managed to open an account in your name at Etrade. Etrade should have done a much better job about handling the cleanup from that mistake.

May 26, 2006 11:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sue them now, maybe you can get your money with all interest back.

No offense, but when I read this I thought "Heh, Americans..."

This is probably due to the McDonalds thing: "I'm gonna sue you because your fat makes me fat". I'm glad the court had some sense and dismissed that.

I can't help but think suing is a very slow, expensive, and pointlessly stressing solution, and should be the very last resort.

May 27, 2006 2:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wil Shipley said...
If there's a TV movie, I want to be played by George Clooney. Or N.P.H.

Naw, try Drew Cary!

May 27, 2006 11:48 AM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Drew Carey rules.

May 27, 2006 12:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's really inspiring about this bean counting is that it takes no time or red tape at all to do the wrong thing but it's nigh on bureaucratically impossible to do the right.

You poor!

May 30, 2006 9:53 AM

Blogger nicotineandsalinger said...

oh! My God! That's awful!
i keep getting mail from E Trade as well, it's such a shady organisation.

May 31, 2006 11:38 AM

Anonymous Zsolt said...

It took me a month to get my money out of my last eTrade CD. It was going to be early withdrawal, so I had to pay a penalty. By the time I got the money, it would have been a normal withdrawal with no penalty. But after a few weeks of waiting an going to the local eTrade office every day to personally ask why it's taking so long, I was just happy to get my money, and I did not care about the penalty. I'll never deal with them again.

June 01, 2006 10:06 AM

Anonymous Mark Stultz said...

With that $5k, maybe you can purchase a copy of Collectorz . It looks really good, and I haven't seen anything else like it.

June 01, 2006 10:40 AM

Blogger mkat said...

Thank you for posting this. Sorry for your troubles, but you have saved me from opening an e-trade account.

June 01, 2006 2:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to work for a (different) brokerage firm. It may not be that the person you spoke with didn't know the source of the funds, but that they were taking normal precautions to keep a lid on the information.

Before you blow up again, think about this: you've already said you called them up and told them it was identity theft. Great. But now they have the meager credentials from the person you claim is a thief, and they have you calling in, without a good way to verify you easily. How do they know you're not the thief, and the original account was real, and you're not fishing for info? That's why they take a while to investigate. They have to independently figure out what really happened, if you're really you, etc.

I can't believe you're just giving BoA a free pass on this, though. Call your banker tomorrow and have them notate explicitly no ACH out, no wire out, without a medallion-certified (better than notarized, you have to show up at a financial institution with ID to do this) notice to do so. Alternatively, have them notate a separate verbal password used just for wire and ACH authorizations, if you think you will be using these. If they can't do all these things for you, for a freaking business account, you need another bank.

Think about it. That same info is all that Nigerian scammers need to clean people out. In fact, they don't even need your SSN for wires. So you need to enact better security with your bank, and you need to ask your bank why the account by default was so insecure.

June 05, 2006 8:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

you never talk about being should

June 08, 2006 11:40 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Being gay is great! Go for it!

June 08, 2006 11:45 PM

Anonymous junkiesxl said...

Come on !

Join the mac blogosphere :)

June 12, 2006 3:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To whil shipley

E*TradeTheft? i just read your blog and just have a few question..

How can it be theft you didnt even open an account and put in the $5000? im assuming its only an identity theft? but the point is maybe the theif ur assuming just wants the identity of yours because you cant activate an E*Trade account on curtain countries? i hope you didnt get the $5000 off the account..

but the point is the $5000 is rightfully the theif's money, and maybe he got an online buissness that requires E*Trade but cant open an account on a curtain country so he maybe did that..

and where did E*Trade go wrong? reading from your blog, they absoulutely did nothing wrong.. to prevent fraud they send confirmation mails to the previously registered (wheather its address,password etc..) im a user of E*trade and they always send confirmation mails to make sure im the actual person who command the (transfers, change of address/email etc..)..

So this blog as no point at all.. your just saying someone used your identity as an american thats all.. but the money and the account is not yours.. and you wouldnt have known about E*Trade if the so called thief havent created an account with them using ur identity.. i hope this answers all your question on why this thief is using your identity and why theres no point on how to harm you with your identity.

June 12, 2006 11:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

[quoted]I checked my accounts, but I didn't see any missing $5,000, so I had no idea what kind of scam this thief was running. Was he giving *me* money? "Here, here's $5,000 in an account in your name, and here's a cash card! Go to town!"[quote]

You dont get it.. its not a scum maybe? his just using your identity? the E*Trade account is not yours? the $5000 is not yours? so theres no point at all? you wouldnt have even known about E*Trade if it wasnt for the so called thief?

June 12, 2006 11:49 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Uh, as I said a few paragraphs later, I discovered the money WAS mine, it was just from my business account, not from my personal accounts. Eg: It was stolen from Delicious Monster.

June 13, 2006 2:54 PM

Blogger Shady said...

Oh, can you clear up a few things for me?

Did you create an E*Trade account on E*Trade?

Did you put the $5000 money in the E*Trade account?

Have you known about E*trade before the theif incident?

June 14, 2006 9:45 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

I'm pretty sure you can, say, read the post and find out the answers to these pressing questions.

June 14, 2006 10:17 PM

Blogger Lucas Newman said...

We are so blogoshpere-friendly it hurts.

June 15, 2006 6:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wil - congrats for readily recognizing how easy it is to transfer funds out of a victim's checking/savings account. Same thing often works from a victim's credit card account (i.e. Visa) to a thief's checking account (i.e. Greenpoint Bank). Not all credit card issuers allow this, but others actually promote it (i.e. MBNA). It's a trusted community. Any member institution is trusted to have validated the ACH transaction they are initiating. Realisic? Hardly.

Alan - bravo for recognizing "identity theft" for the lie it really is. It's propaganda designed to make the consumer believe that they are to blame. I feel the same way about "computer viruses", but that is a different story altogether.

So far events such as this are viewed as a nuisance. Small individual thefts from the thief's contact with an institution that has lax procedures. Find an institution in the trusted community with poor practices, and you're in. Inside jobs also happen. In the case of Greenpoint Bank (a New York regional bank), it had recently been purchased by North Fork Bancorp. Only thing I could find on the web was an email contact. I emailed that I needed a phone number for their security department. From the time and the name on the reply, the customer support jobs had obviously been "offshored". The reply wanted my contact information so they could phone me. I gave my work phone, but never did hear from them. I don't know if the thief was able to set up a checking account at that institution in my name or if it was in his name, but either way that is definately where the funds were directed. Luckily, my credit card company phoned me, and the ACH transfer was blocked before completion. My credit card issuer is based in New York. Greenpoint Bank is in New York. Like Wil, I'm on the opposite shore. Sound like an inside job? It does to me. As for North Fork Bancorp, last I heard Capital One was buying it, for which the North Fork Bancorp executives would receive a small fortune, which they insisted was justified due to their superior management. Right.

Bigger problems occur when a big batch of fraudulent ATM/POS transactions come through on the networks from Europe or Russia. Those get corrected by keying off the origination id.

So far, nobody has been able to successfully salt the networks with a large number of fraudulent transfers using many source identifiers. When it happens, expect our financial system to shut down as all the electronic money, bank accounts, and credit card accounts become suspect and untrusted.

Killing thousands of people by destroying 2 skyscrapers in New York with jet planes is a national tragedy. Bringing the financial systems to a halt will be a national disaster.

Most people I explain this to simply do not comprehend. The upper managment of the corporation I work for is incompetent. I've dealt with the Visa auditors. They are seriously inexperienced. They focus on small areas of insignificance with incredible detail and determination. Security holes the size of barn doors go unnoticed. The managers do whatever the auditors ask. They ignore me. Maybe they think I'm crazy. Maybe I am. For everybody's sake I hope I am.

Good luck. I mean that sincerely.

June 16, 2006 5:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You definitely picked a bad brokerage firm. I was a customer of Etrade since 1999 trading about 100 option trades a year until they made an error in confirming a put excercise. When they realized that they had given me the wrong info they booked some other trades, took the money out of my account, and told me that they had made a mistake and I would lose $35,000 because of it. They wouldn't even return the commissions that they profited from. I am currently suing them in small claims court for $10,000 for which they have spent at least $20,000 on their defense. I was going to sue for more in a regular court but was advised that they would attempt to scare me off with their legal costs and these are limited in small claims. My lawyer offered them non-disclosure and settle for $7500 which they have turned down. You don't want to deal with Etrade when they do something wrong. Their comments get real nasty and they stop communicating. Rather than correct this situation they claim that I was a sophisticated investor who attempted to take advantage of their poorly trained staff who weren't aware of excercise rules. Their defense was going to be that they don't provide advice but now that the judge has told them firmly that I didn't ask them for advice they appear to be getting ready to claim that they are not responsible for anything that they say or do. Their contract actually says that, but of course legally you can't take money from people for nothing so they don't have a defense. We are back in court in Toronto on Oct 31, 2006 if you want to see a large company comit suicide. Surely investors don't want to deal with a company that will publically state that they are not responsible for anything that they say or do, but Etrade seems to be comfortable in assuming that their clients are complete idiots. The jury is still out on that one.

June 17, 2006 7:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, wow! i just hope whoever took the money really needed it, you know like for their 12 starving children... sorry to hear about your troubles. i had a similar experience when i was 19. had to pay off $1000 my mom spent with a credit card in my name that i never even saw! but you know, at least it was only money and some stress and not something far worse. :-)

June 18, 2006 7:29 AM

Anonymous Brian Hager said...

Hey Erik... Maybe the thing to do in the future is set it up so the only way transfers can be made beyond a certain point is to do it as a mandatory face-to-face. It's a bit less convenient, but then there's less chance of something like this happening again.

I don't suppose E*Trade has an office, but that is something else to consider. Yes?

June 22, 2006 5:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i ended up here after etrade closed my new accounts because equifax has the wrong address on file for me. i've jumped through innumerable hoops, including dealing with the dreaded department of motor vehicles, but etrade has been AWFUL at correcting the problem. it's been a month that i've had no access whatsoever to my life savings. i'm youngish, so that's only like $8000, but it's really important to me. as another commenter notes, it's awful to be in the limbo between when you sent the money and when your balance stops being a big fat zero.

based on the googling i've done today, i wouldn't advise anyone to buy etrade stock. they'll go down in flames for the shabby customer service reflected on page after page. unless etrade ponies up a good quantity of free trades for my trouble, i'm switching to firstrade. i hope etrade will at least let me transfer my accounts.

June 23, 2006 11:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I does look like E*Trade is finally going to pay for ripping so many customers off for so long. The stock is down 40% since May/06. Ironically the chairman received a $24,000,000 bonus before this. Just coincidence in the timing no doubt - you think? Let's put this company out of business - there are plenty of good brokerage firms out there that don't have 55,000 negative postings against them on the web like E*Trade does. If you do insist on using them, save yourself the rude obnoxious comments form their customer service after they rip you off and send your money directly to the chairman because he will get it sonner or later anyway.

June 25, 2006 5:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never posted a comment on-line but as I read what happened, there is another way to bring attention to any company that is publically traded on stock market.
The law, Sarbanes-Oxley, was implemented after Enron. The SEC has quartley reports of the inspections. Trust me when I say that this law has teeth. There is automatic jail time for executives in the company. The inspections started in 2004 and SEC has exposed more dishonestly within our country then I would have ever believe possible.
When you see comapnies splitting or selling to another, they are attempting to stop the punishments after audits.
I have personal experience about financial fraud and use Sarbane-Oxley reports to regularlly check on the company who was committing financial fraud. The country's corporations cannot hide behinde ERISA, rackettering and any other law to distort the truth.
It would be interseting to know if the problems that happened with the account and false idenity is larger fraud then you think. Plus any bank that gives out information based on social security should be reported. They ahve a parallel law that the medical community has, HIPAA. The banking industry and other industries that handle money has to submit to the law, Grahm, Leach Bliley Act.
The bank we use calls us if there is any unusal activity and we call them when we will be traveling so they won't deny charges that really are ours.
Even web sites, if you want to make sure it is a real site, like Microsoft, put an s after hhtps: because if it isn't Microsoft then you'll get a screen saying not able to find.
Hodge podge comments but I use to be in a large company and I was a QC/QA Software engineer and Enron literally has caused more protection for the "normal" workers and jail for those involved in financial fraud. Many companies think they are safe but trust me when I say that times are changing and we are starting to have a voice.
Research SEC Sarbanes-Oxley reports, research companies you are involved with or call the SEC and file a compliant. Many laws do not have the funding to really enforce some of the laws unless someone complains, not so with Sarbanes-Oxley, it has power, teeth and so far those who have been caught are being amount of money protects the companies executives...I saw it first hand. I am disabled now but I can at least try and get the word out concerning issuses of security, finances and some health related laws.
I may be wrong but I think our country wants to get back to the basic tenets that we once had. I see TV shows were people are helping others, talk shows were someone stood up for truth and hearing thank you...We all need to do our best for the future generations. We have more say today then we did in 2002.

June 26, 2006 9:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the worst banking experience ever with ETRADE. When I first opened my Money Market account with them by mail, I've attached a copy of my driver's license so my address will not be in any dispute. But amazingly, ETRADE managed to put in the wrong street address, and shockingly they sent a stack of checks to this wrong address. BTW, I did not ask for these checks. When I called, the customer service officer told me that he can only stop payment for 16 days, and I must write in to stop payment for a longer period. I was furious and filed a complaint with the better business bureau.

During the last two weeks, I tried to correct my address online three times, each time I received feedback from the web site that the updated address will be reflected in 24 to 48 hours. Three phone calls later with three different customer service officers and many empty promises of fixing their simple mistake within 24-48 hours, my address still has not been corrected.

I had hopes of using ETRADE as my main bank, now I am advocating everyone I know to stay away from ETRADE.

If ETRADE can't even fill in their customer's data correctly, how can one trust them with his / her hard earned money?

July 01, 2006 5:56 PM

Blogger Mike said...

Thanks for your story! Sorry to hear you had to go through all of that. I had actually been considering opening a new E*Trade account, but after reading about your ordeal, no way!!! Hopefully you can take some solice in the idea that your crappy experience warned some of us away.

July 10, 2006 1:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there some reason bank accounts can't have real passwords? They are supposed to ask for ID but don't always think to.

1) Get a bank account number and name off of someone's check.
2) Get a money order written to that name. Heck, get several.
3) Go to a branch of their bank.
4) Deposit the money order(s) in that account and see how much they let you withdraw from the account without thinking to ask for ID.

July 11, 2006 2:19 AM

Anonymous SR. said...

-- I'm glad that got sorted out & thx for the post. You may consider a 7 year fraud alert with the credit repoting agencies -- this requires that you are contacted at your home address before a new a/c can be opened -- troublesome but worth the effort since your identity has been stolen and remove your ssn from your checks ASAP!

July 11, 2006 6:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

holy crap you should sue em or something. i mean im 12 and i can make a better security system then that.already someone has stolen from me and i found out who it was in the first week. also after you take E-TRADE to the cleaners give the fbi a report.

July 11, 2006 11:53 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Late to this thread, but it's a shocking story. Unfortunately I'm not surprized. The company I used to work at chaged our stock option brocker from Smith Barney to E*Trade, supposedly to give us cheaper trades, but I'm sure there was a huge backhander for them. We may have got (slightly) cheaper per trade prices, but it was like pulling teeth to get your money. Firstly it took at least 3 days longer for the 'instant' transaction to actually show up as cash, and secondly, you couldn't just get a check. The money went into a specially created E*Trade account which you then had to request a check from or transfer out. When I got laid off, they kept my old email address attached to the account, even though I'd tried to change it everywhere I could find any preferences. It took weeks to get to any money even without fraud or other problems. All the while E*Trade is taking the interest on my money.
E*Trade is parasite and should be investigated for illegal practices. Places like that have no shame, stealing money from the people who actually *MAKE* something as their job.

July 14, 2006 10:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wil Shipley said...
If there's a TV movie, I want to be played by George Clooney. Or N.P.H.

Except that while you could be said to resemble Mr. Clooney, you look nothing like Mr. Harris.

July 18, 2006 12:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been having a nightmare situation with E*Trade as well.

Recently I opened an E*Trade brokerage account with authority to purchase stocks. I went ahead and purchased stocks. Two days later they froze my account and it has been frozen since (for almost two weeks now).

I have been given every excuse in the book why E*trade has frozen the account, including that "Equifax didn't have the correct address" for me, that they "needed to verify my mailing address" and then that "No, no, it was that they needed to verify my residential address because of the Patriot Act" with ADDITIONAL documents requested from me such as a DEED to a house or my voter registration card (BTW... the Patriot Act requires no such thing and I have NEVER been asked for these kind of additional documents for setting up any account anywhere).

I called Equifax immediately and the woman on the other line laughed. She said E*trade doesn't even use Equifax and then she repeated back my address which was correct. She said E*trade uses their OWN E*trade Bank to verify personal information of customers and that very often that information is OUT OF DATE or INCORRECT because it doesn't come from one of the big three credit reporting agencies.

Obviously E*trade is just "making it up as they go along."

Anyway, E*Trade still continues to shut me out of access from my own money, as well as I have been frozen from trading (during a very volatile stock market). This even after I have given them ALL of my pertinent information, including ss#, bank account info, DOB, mailing and residential addresses and even after I have faxed a copy of my driver's license as well as a document from the social security administration AND an installation bill from the cable company to PROVE my residence!

The Patriot Act, BTW, only requires that a bank or brokerage do what is REASONABLE or PRACTICABLE in verifying a person's identity. It only requires ss#, DOB, and photo ID to prove identity. It does not require all the additional documents which E*trade is requesting.

I don't think there is any question that I am who I am! I think E*trade probably profits financially and illegally by freezing accounts and by stalling on turning over assets to their rightful owners.

Every time I speak with another E*trade person they claim that they will unfreeze the account within 48 hours, OR they request an additional document! But obviously these are just more lies to placate me or to get me off of the phone.

After all the e-mails and phone calls, I've had enough. The ID verification portions of the Patriot Act were established to prevent terrorists from laundering money and NOT to thwart Americans from investing or banking. And E*trade is obviously taking advantage of the Patriot Act as an excuse to cheat people.

E*Trade, in a DOWN market, just reported RECORD earnings (somethings smells fishy). Perhaps they are illegally freezing customers accounts while they profit from interest and/or loaning that money/assets. Then they are charging customers huge inactivity fees or account closing fees (Google the words "E*trade sucks" and see for yourself). I wish I had Googled them BEFORE I had opened an account with them, but I knew someone with an account who hadn't had any problems (yet).

Perhaps E*Trade is also using the Patriot Act as an excuse to raid customers of their personal information which they can sell to other institutions. That's another finanical benefit to them. Also the freeze cuts into the "30-days" of 100 commission-free trades which they advertise and which they don't seem willing to give!

I have even asked them about that and they are hemming and hawing!!! This is all NOT GOOD.

The authorities really NEED to investigate brokers such as E*trade! This is such a SCAM!

And the government needs to make it illegal to freeze accounts without reason and without the financial institution doing due dilligence to determine identity (whether it is returning someone's money which has been stollen out of their account or whether it is verifying a true customer and allowing them access to their own moeny). FREEZING accounts should only happen in the most extreme of circumstances where FRAUD is known to exist or where a person is a KNOWN terrorist.

If there is anyone out there who is deciding which online brokerage company to do business with RUN SCREAMING away from E*Trade. They are a nightmare to the 10th power!

And investors DO NOT buy E*trade stocks. There is something VERY wrong with this company and its ethics and lack of customer service. Clearly these problems demonstrate how they are going to go down in a ball of scandalous flames after they profit in the short term.

July 25, 2006 12:33 PM

Blogger Rocktech said...

Yes i think e trade is very shady. i have an account with them an went though my own hell with them.
Not one person knows what the next is doing. Someone would tell me one thing an someelse would tell me another. Most of the info they were giving me was wrong. im still dealing with them. I dont thing Anyone should use them. There is really something wrong with the company.An anyone that opens an account with them is crazy.


August 11, 2006 6:37 PM

Blogger Rocktech said...

There is really something wrong with them. i went though my own hell. Someone would tell me one thing an someelse would tell me another. not one of them were right.They had me doing thing that didnt need to be done.I even spent my own money doing things to make it right, thay i didnt need to do. i think anyone that deals with them are nuts.I really think someone should be looking into this company.Remember Enron....

August 11, 2006 6:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am having a similar problem with etrade at the moment. An interloper got access to my account and has been trying to transfer money out of my account. I intercepted two such ongoing transfers in the past 2 days. Ironically, etrade failed to pay my bills on insufficient funds while allowing the interloper to tranfer the money out of my account 12 hours later!!!

He/she/they have also written huge checks to my creditors like a $5000 payment to the water company and a $1000 payment to a closed credit card account. The fraud unit is never in their office and there is no direct phone number until you finally convince a regular rep of your legitimacy or something. Still, when I call that fraud unit number, no one is ever there. I have been restricted from my account, they won't let me close my account or give me my balance, they won't let me pay bills, and so on.

Frankly, I think it was an inside job. The last bank to bank tranfer I interrupted was not tranparent and was executed immediately --the fund transfer was in process at 7:30 am and it had been requested by the interloper at 5 am.

At the moment, I have no option but to pay my lawyer to get my money for me. I cannot believe it.

August 24, 2006 10:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a tv ad of a family member who was dead and yet his etrade account was making money. The account was set up to function automatic. It might of been etrade or amitrade? Anyways, this brought up a nogo etrade for me. Thanks.

August 26, 2006 5:22 PM

Anonymous tdinoz said...

Its amazing what people can do with a phone call to someone elses bank

heard some really nightmare stories.


i can't login to leave comments lately don't know what that's about weird.

September 03, 2006 7:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am considering a class action lawsuit against Etrade; I am searching for people who were ripped off by Etrade fees, especially fees you feel were applied unfairly with under the table, back door policies that exist nowhere on paper or are vaguely worded.

In my case I opened 3 separate IRA accounts with Etrade in 2006 under their "50 Free Trades" promotion. Two were my accounts (A Roth and a rollover IRA) and one is my wife's Roth IRA. I made many trades on each account. Etrade only credited trade fees on one account (my wife's), and I had to hound them for three months to do that. They refuse to refund fees on the other accounts, saying that I am just one customer (what about my wife?), thus only one account can be credited. However, their own disclaimers never use the word "customer." Here are excerpts from Etrade's own site, "Commission-free trade offer applies to new E*TRADE Securities Traditional, Roth, or Rollover IRAs....The new account holder will receive a maximum of 50 free trade commissions for stock or options trades executed within 30 days of the opening of the new account."

Each of these accounts is a new, separate and distinct account, thus with each new account I was a new account holder. Each account has its own account number, separate record keeping, individual account statements and so forth. Each should have been credited $12.99 per trade. Again, NOWHERE does Etrade’s site mention that if you open multiple accounts fee refunds are only credited to one account. Instead their deceptive language gives the impression that any trade on any new account, regardless of the account holder’s existing accounts, will be credited for fees incurred.

If you want to tell me your Etrade fees story, please email me at
. Please be brief and concise. Please only true, verifiable stories about fees wrongfully charged by Etrade.

September 21, 2006 10:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So finally, you did get your money back? I'm a new inverstor and I want to have some faith in the industry. If a company like e-trade can't protect funds who can, and is there really a secure inverstem system?

October 11, 2006 2:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never posted to a blog before, but felt the need to comment. I know I am a little late to this subject. I AM A FORMER ETRADE EMPLOYEE and i can tell you to stay away. There is no training, lack of leadership and no way for employees to resolve customer issues. I have never worked for such a horrible company in my 15 years in the banking industy. They even lost deposits of employees who tried to open an account, and there was still no customer support, even if they were your employer!!

Imagine your employer doing a payroll deduction- which is suppose to be deposited into your bank account- and they can't find your money. Any they are both the bank and the employer!!!! Happens Often!!

I have also worked in several large "real- brick and mortor" banks. It sounds like your situation started w/ someone opening an account w/ etrade with your info. When one does this one is asked- "what funds will you be using to open this account?" The other bank info given- simply account number and routing number as printed on EVERY check and it starts ACH. This is a standard opening proceed which can be done online or via phone. That etrade does not have better secuity is criminal! There are laws set up just for this!

Also, someone at BofA should have been able to help. But there is heavy turnover in the retail banking sector and not alway good training. There are policy and procedures in place, but often staff is not trained. So the best thing is to keep going, until you can find someone who can help - because there is someone that can. This is an issue that can be resolved in any local branch. I have done it many times- Happens more often then you think. So BofA should have been able to reverse- and etrade also could have reversed quickly- but I am personally aware of their lack of ability, so I am not suprised!!

October 20, 2006 6:22 PM

Anonymous anonymous email said...

ETrade Support Sucks!

Tried to open an account but somehow for some whatever reason I could not open an account, althought I can login. Called the support dozens of times and they were not able to find my account althought I gave them my loginID.

The lady on the phone sounded like she took a couple of sleeping pills.

Did not feel very good, so I moved my account to


October 26, 2006 12:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I know it's been months, but you really should report this and E*Trade to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or SEC (at -- the first time E*Trade didn't respond they should have known about it, but since the ex employee has confirmed your worst deductions about their business practice, reporting would be a wise move still today!

November 11, 2006 9:52 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the process of jumping through e-trade hoops...thank god it was only $3k...may never see it again

November 30, 2006 3:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I use to work at E*TRADE’s Rancho Cordova California office as a network engineer supporting Mr. Wong and he solved the problem because is one of the few that was left after they started screwing all the hard working people that built the company so they could get out of California. Mr. Wong many times had his job extended because the new people in Arlington VA and Charlotte NC did were too new and untrained.

The fraud group had been picked over for ~2 years prior to the official closing this year and most had left but they kept Mr. Wong going with bonuses until they had the staff in the other offices up to speed with fraud. Just to give you an idea Mr. Wong had been with the company for over 8 years.

Oh and I am writing this as I sit on hold with ET. You would not believe how they screwed up former employee accounts over and over again. It is unfortunate because ET has many good people but management is more concerned with how they can affect next quarter’s earnings rather then looking at how happy and well trained the employees are which would make them care more about customers in your situation

ET had lost its way from the early days, now it is nothing more than a bank that thinks it is a brokerage house.

And yes complain to the SEC.

December 18, 2006 10:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work at the E*TRADE charlotte NC office and most of the postings are true. I am frantically seeking other employment. They did pay for my series 7 license so I thank them for that. I am on the phone and can confirm that when customers call in about their account applications that have been outstanding for weeks, and checks that have already have been cashed but do not show up in the account, the financial services rep (fsr) usually can not see what the person is talking about because it has not been scanned into a horrible system called "Staffware". Most of the customers I have found to be overly patient. Some send checks and applications multiple times to open an account. I work there and only have a minimal amount of money with them just so I can assist with walking customers through trades online and such. Find another online brokerage until Etrade gets it problems sorted (though I'm not hopeful that they will). I am applying for one of the major banks myself as soon as I get them to pay for another license. They also hired a ton of people spring and summer of 2006 to decrease the waiting time for customers on the phone that were not able to even get their Series 7. These people used to work at Sprint and places like that. One person in the bank department who was highly thought of actually stole a ss#, name and address from a customer who called it into "Fraud", or "Risk" (same group) and she quit when confronted. Etrade did not fire her or press charges.

April 02, 2007 8:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Current soon to be former etrade employee,

Just for fun, when you call, ask the person how long they have been there. The really tenured reps have been there 1 year! So give them a break, and they get no management support.

April 02, 2007 8:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

E-TRADE: Where is my money?

Bloggers, Any advice?

It's Friday April 20, 7:30PM EST and I've just find out that my E-TRADE Brokerage acount with 5 figures balance has disapeared with no trace. No alert. No letter. No communication.

Called E-TRADE 800 number. The person who answered the phone did not find any trace of acoount after giving all the details, SSN, DOB, adress, etc.

After pushing firmly OH! the representative told me that YES...there is a Brokerage account somewhere but there is a Security issue and I will be transfer to the Customer relations ......but they are not there until Monday morning 8 AM.

I've requested to escalate the case to a manager. No way. Repeteadly the shooting voice kept reading me that is a security issue and I will be transfer to Customers Relations....but they are not there until Monday morning 8 AM. Of course, I been put on hold several times and apologizing for the wait several times more.

Bottom line I do not know where is my account, my money. And I have to wait until Monday 8AM, and it's Friday by now almost 9PM

This is the last act of a sequence that started on:

Sunday April 15 7:30PM logging to my E-TRADE account for no avail.

Called E-TRADE representative. He informed me that was no problem with my account.

I went on with: Why then I can not log in?

Answer: Contact the Security Dept. but not until Monday at 8:AM. They do not work on weekends.

My question: If there is no problem why I have to contact them?

A. This is a matter of the Security Department. That's it.

I ended the call.

One more time an E-TRADE problem not reasonable explained/not solved.

Sunday April 15 10:30PM. Logged in my E-TRADE account from another computer without any problem. Everything was fine then.

Monday April 16 that VA TECH shooting happened. I am in the news business therefore no time left for E-TRADE log in until....

Friday April 20th, 7:30 Logged in my E-TRADE account.......

Any suggestion?

April 20, 2007 5:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I will add to my misery with eTrade. I have a ESPP (Employee Stock Purchase Plan) account and a options account. I recently went through a divorce which involved having to split the stock in that account with my ex. This is done with a QDRO (qualified domestic relations order). As part of the QDRO eTrade froze the account to split the stock. Did they bother to inform me or my ex of this? No. Why does this matter? Well, the account contains options that were about to expire. Since the account was frozen these expiring assets could not be exercised. How long is an account frozen so the holdings can be split? A couple of days? One week? A month? Well, I really have no idea since my account has been frozen for about 7 weeks now. I have placed about 20 calls to eTrade frantic since I have options that are expiring that I will completely lose since the account is "frozen". Every single person I have spoken to has offered to do the same, to send a follow up email to the legal dept. Have I received a single call back? Absolutely not! I only ran into Will's blog as I was researching to find out if others have run into similar problems and how to file a complaint with the appropriate agency. I'm now about 9 working days away from losing my stock options and about 80K since eTrade could care less about customer support. If I ever get this cleared out I will be transferring the rest of my stock out of eTrade to a different broker. It doesn't matter who it is since I don't know that anyone could do any worse than eTrade.

Take my advice, if you have eTrade move your account. If you are thinking of opening an eTrade account - DON'T DO IT! Are you thinking of getting a Mortgage through eTrade's Mortgage division? That's another bad move and another rant about bad customer service for some other blog...

July 11, 2007 3:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about this. I get an email:
Dear E*TRADE user , On July 12, 2007, E*TRADE FINANCIAL implemented an additional layer of security to protect you from identity theft and computer fraud! Just sign up once and you will be set to go. The next time you log in after setup, it will be business as usual!The new technology identifies you as the true "owner" of your account(s) by recognizing your PASSWORD and your COMPUTER. If the computer you are using is not recognized by us because you have logged in from a public computer or one you haven't used before-you will be asked "challenge questions". These questions require simple answers that are personal and only you would know the answers. This is all done as an additional line of defense to prevent unauthorized access.To sign up E*TRADE FINANCIAL "Challenge Questions" please click the link below.*TRADE FINANCIAL is committed to fraud prevention everyday and everywhere! Thank you for banking with us! If you have any questions, please contact us at .

So, I send a mail to


I first thought this was spam, but it turns out you guys actually exist.
If you have an account under this email address (my email addy), it is fraudulous, I do not have any accounting with you.

Suggesting appropriate action.

I get a reply:
SMTP error from remote mail server after RCPT
host []: 550 No such user

How very effing professional... let's not do anything towards security!

July 12, 2007 11:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

All i can tell you is if you have money with etrade, check your balances everyday.
They have messed up my balances atleast 5 times in a three week period. I decided to move my funds elsewhere and the real ordeal began.
I could not wire money out because they said i had to prove i owned the account.(cool right?) wrong
I went to a branch provided my ID
ss # and did all verification and the manager told me the wire would be complete in no time.
Ten minutes after i had left the place, my phone rings and it's the manager with some bad news, they had a glitch and they could not do the wire.

He advised me to do an ACH,which i did but took two weeks to complete.
I have no reason why but they said that there was a problem with their bank that processes their ACH

Over 100k stuck in an account, i could not trade,no interest paid but i finally left.Thank God the ordeal is over!
There are too many new people working in that place, no one ever seems to know what they are talking about.


August 03, 2007 1:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had extremely bad experience with Etrade too but I thought it only happened to me...Now I found out this is not occational and Etrade really sucks. Good to know this so I can switch before any real damaging happens.

August 14, 2007 8:09 AM

Blogger Lorraine said...

Damn. I got ripped off by E*Trade, too. Reading all this makes me very worried about ever getting my money back. Like the person before me, I am extremely glad it is a small amount of money and it happened sooner than later!

(Doesn't make me feel any less stupid, however.

August 26, 2007 12:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you tried to call their customer service number? Dial that 1-800-387-2331

This is the script:

etrade: Welcome. Type your account #.

me: I type my account #

etrade: Enter web password.

me: I type my web password

eTrade: Main menu, please say what you wish to do: Quotes, trading, market news, account information, or switch accounts.

me: silent

etrade: I am sorry, I didn't hear you. For quotes, press 1; for trading, press 2; for market news, press 3; for account info, press 4; to switch accounts, press 5.

me: I press *0

etrade: I am sorry, I still cannot hear you. For quotes, press 1; for trading, press 2; for market news, press 3; for account info, press 4; to switch accounts, press 5; to connect to customer service, press 6

me: I press 6

etrade: I am sorry, I cannot hear you. For quotes, press 1; for trading, press 2; for market news, press 3; for account info, press 4; to switch accounts, press 5; to connect to customer service, press 6

me: I press 6 again

etrade: "I am sorry. I have trouble understanding you. Press 1 if you want to be connected to customer service."

me: I press 1

FINALLY! I get to the customer service person.

But why couldn't I get connected to CS when I press 6? Their menu said I could press 6 to get to their CS!

October 29, 2007 5:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to work as a rep. at E*Trade and they are a totally corrupt organization. The poor reps have to submit an electronic request to some other facility to do ANYTHING and usually they get no response from this unseen group. If they do respond they simply tell the rep "more information" is needed. Nobody there from managers on down can solve any problem no matter how simple the solution could be but just keeps shifting it around for weeks upon weeks. I can't begin to tell you all the horrible things I saw, lost accounts, incorrect balances, theft, and the bank manager who knew the banking software wasn't calculating savings percentages correctly and wouldn't have it fixed. If BEG you NOT to send them any money or important documents (the are routinely lost or stolen by temp employees who make VERY little money). I have actually thought about writing a book about my experiences there and how bad itwas-who knows might be a bestseller...but in no case would I invest with them for anything! Former FSR rep.

November 01, 2007 10:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone else?...

I can across this blog and I'm wondering if anyone else has had similar experinces with E*Trade in not placing timely restrictions on the trading of certain stocks. I know they knew about at least two restrictions several days in advance...the customer service rep. admitted this after the 20 minute customary wait times. Nevertheless, they didn't place any notification on the trading of those stocks. Instead they went ahead and filled my orders without restriction and then accused me of short selling. I've never short sold. You are aware of short sales becuase such transactions are clearly identified and displayed on the screen when such transactions are taking place. Instead, they went through with the orders (showing my stocks in numbers as they were prior to any consolidations or the like). Then, later they applied the necessary changes/buy backs and took it upon themselves to cover the short orders (the same ones that they conveniently created). The best part is they charged my account for the great service of covering shorts. Grrrrrr! I wonder how many other investors they may be jerking around this me if you have had similar experiences...
Thanks :)

November 07, 2007 11:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

E*Trade Employee says:

That is a heart-wrenching story and since I work for ET, I just had to check out your story to see what may have happened. Needless to say, I wasn't surprised to find that I couldn't track down any of the three people you "spoke" with. I mean, we do have a couple of Matt M's in the database and a bunch of Mr. Wong's, but not one Gary S. Hmmm... well, maybe your records are not quite what you think they are. It's unfounded accusations like this that have caused the company to lose tens of millions of dollars in the past few days. Luckily, most of our clients can tell the difference between disgruntled, hopefully, former clients who would rather bitch and moan about procedure than simply provide the required documentation to resolve the issue. I know that it may be "too much work" for you to resolve what was probably not your fault, but we are required by law to collect certain pertinent documents to determine that the funds are going to the right place. And one more thing, we do not allow just anyone to transfer your money; THEY are allowed to do so IF, and only if, they have your information and we have no way of knowing that it is not legitimate until we hear from you. It is in our best interest to safeguard your information so why would we jeopardize our business for a measley $5k? Try to get your facts straight before bad-mouthing a group of good people who are just trying to do their jobs.

November 14, 2007 5:05 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

E*Trade "employee":

What I said happened, happened. $5,000 was stolen from my account, you guys were in charge of the transfer. These are facts, they are indisputable. If you want to start charging me with "unfounded" accusations then have the courage to use your real name and I can put you in contact with my business banker at Bank of America, who will verify everything I've said.

I don't care if you can find the names of the people I spoke to or not, at this point. Considering most employees I spoke to at E-Trade couldn't find their assholes with a flashlight I'm not particularly surprised.

Unlike you, who hides behind anonymity, you can verify my facts. Do you think *I* would be willing to risk my reputation for a measly $5,000?

If E*Trade really felt this story was false it'd be libel, and if I were really responsible for your losses then you'd take me to court. But the truth is never libel, and your losses are caused by your massive incompetence, so kiss my ass.


November 14, 2007 7:31 PM

Blogger Max Moser said...

I am sorry to say I feel better knowing somebody is going through the same hell I am with E*trade. Theft*trade promptly called me back when it was their money on the line. The whole "guaranteed safety" in effect. Once they locked down my account after 10k was wired out, they dragged their feet. I will post they entire story on my blog. This has continued for over 2 months and they still won't release the 75k I have in a cash account with them. I had a melt-down in their Park avenue branch and that seemed to have gotten the ball rolling. Who knows with them.
Anyone interested in filing a class action lawsuit against this company feel free to email me at

November 16, 2007 1:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wil, the security manager is J. Triano 703-236-8420. His assistant is J. Autry 703-236-8927. They should be able to help you.

November 20, 2007 9:24 AM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

I appreciate the pointers, but I got my money back last year.


November 20, 2007 2:22 PM

Blogger Max Moser said...

Thanks anonymous. I left Mr T. a message. Hopefully he will be able to give me some pointers. As an update I mailed every bit of information, authenticating who I am to the Corp Sec. department. As well as explicit instructions on how to handle my accounts and the funds they hold. 3 weeks ago and still no response. Let's see if Mr. T comes through!

December 12, 2007 5:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a strange situation where someone hacked or stole my password and made trades on my account. Since I never trade my shares I did not notice this for months until I got my year end statement. here is the ironic part, the thief traded one co and bought another and I'm actually ahead by a few K. the problem is I now owe $5k+ in capital gains tax on the trades I did not make or want. All I asked e-trade to do is provide me with some documentation (IP address or state where the transactions were made from, or a letter stating there was fraud on my account) so I can have something to show the IRS. E-trades attitude is "sorry" cant provide anything. I would love to take legal action against them just to get some documentation about this issue in pretrial discovery. Any suggestions or recommendation of an attorney who has dealt with E-trade? Also I had the same poor customer service and lack of communication with "fraud" department. I live on the west coast and they know I live on the west coast but would still call me back at 5:30AM west coast time. Any suggestions please forward to

March 18, 2008 3:53 PM

Blogger docsalvage said...

I too got burned by E*Trade. Last Nov. I transfered $1000 into my stock investment account with them from my main checking account at wells fargo. A few days later I checked my main wells fargo account too find my account depleted 'Zero" and over draft had kicked in. This is the account which all my automated bills, including mortage is paid from. I have never bounced a check or triggered an overdraft so this alarmed me. I soon found out that instead of transfering $1000 one time but they had initiated 2 transfers of $1000. I called Etrade and they seemed very understanding, agreed to reverse the second transfer and even reemburse me for the overdraft charge. this was like friday, so on Tuesday I checked online and found nothing had happened. P.S. I am currently unemployed so watching my finances tightly. I then called etrade again and they acted as if I had not talked with them before so I had to explain everything to them again. I then waited till friday and still no change. I called Wells Fargo and explained I had not authorize the second transfer to ETrade at which time they immediately reverse that transaction. On monday I found my funds back in my Wells Fargo account "$1000" but discovered my ETrade stock investment account no longer available online. I called and recorded the conversation with ETrade.. They informed me they nolonger wanted my business and too get my funds I had too file a noterized letter demanding my funds. I had $10000 in that account and during this time the stock market crashed so could not sell my investments. I also was afraid to do anything with my mutual funds through them because I was afraid they would disappear that account too.
Eventually I was able to transfer my account too Ameritrade which did not invest in subprime mortages. I also filed with the SEC so that ETrade would provide me with my account records. They messed up the records by combining 2 accounts into 1, moved 99,000 shares in and out of the account.
SEC made them send a letter explaining what happened and they explained that they can disappear your account for no reason and this was was in the online customer aggreement.
Personally if customers new they could and would do this they would clearly want to do business else where.
It there is an attorney monitoring this site. I would love to recover the $100000 lost because I could not move my mutual funds during the stockmarket route. Yes I lost roughly $100,000 because I was afraid to do any transaction with ETRADE.


May 01, 2008 1:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have an account with Etrade with a lot of money. I notice I didn't get statment for a long time and called them to check where my money is. They said I never have the account with them. I told them I have the statement with me and it has their logo and everything. Then they said the account # I read them is not really the account #, so there is no way to check. I was like what the FFFFF. They can't find the account by social and they said account # is not an account #. They losse all your money if you bank with them and they will erase all your information.

May 04, 2008 1:02 PM

Blogger Casey said...

If anyone reads this, trade elsewhere! E*Trade has all my accounts frozen for a suspicious wire and I am in contact with their fraud department daily. I have not had access to my money for over a week. They have bounced a mortgage check and returned my auto-deposit paycheck from my employer! These things had been going on regularly for months before this fraud alert! The fraud alert was triggered by an incoming international wire (My German tax return) and they made no effort to investigate what it was for, instead they just froze all my accounts (Checking, brokerage, employee stock plan). I can't get money, write checks to pay bills, or make trades! I have called them 4 times, fax'd my passport, driver's license, military ID and they said that they are unable to verify that I am the account owner! I have dealt with the most detached non-empathetic service people, been on hold for hours, and gotten the run around to the degree I called my lawyer. I am hoping to bring them in on negligence. Words can not explain the furious rage that swells in my heart when I think about what E*Trade has done. Please, for your own safety, stay away from these crooks. Far away. They are the worst bank I have ever heard of. They are completely incapable of doing a wire and if you receive one, they lock all your accounts!

June 11, 2008 6:12 PM

Anonymous Roger Stanfield said...

e*trade froze my sons account with $67,000 (approx) a week before he died. Three months later and my daughter-in-law still has not been allowed to see a recent statement from them. We have been told by someone called "Shameka Hood" (spelt as it sounds, should e*trade employee want to verify this story) is because my son was Australian e*trade no longer found it viable to maintain his account as the low turnover did not offset the cost of the Patriot Act.

e*trade refuse to provide the executor of my sons will access to his account or any information, not even a balance. Under normal circumstances there is a process we would follow to get this, however we cannot as the account is "closed" and as my son was a "foreign national" (my daughter-in-law is American but because she does not reside in the USA it seems that counts for nothing either).

I am at a loss as to how an organisation the size of e*trade can get away with this. We have engaged international lawyers and the process has begun, they say costs may end up more than is held in the account yet even if it gets as far as court and we win we may not be able to recover those costs.

Who in e*trade is responsible for causing this kind of hurt? Is it because my son used their service to make this money they feel it is rightly theirs?

If you work for them you should be ashamed and if you invest with them don't die.

August 03, 2008 3:41 AM

Anonymous Shirley said...

I have had 5 E*Trade accounts opened with my information. Fortunately, none with my money in them, and all but one are very tiny amounts - from $3,000 down to $0.00! About the same time as the first ($3K) one was opened, several other online banks opened at least one in my name. E*Trade is the only one that sends statements. A woman in Security finally was able to tell me how to stop the statements-send a letter to Corporate Security. I haven't done it yet. Also had my info used to open an Ebay store. I found out when two different customers called to see where their software was. Ebay customer service is also hard to crack, but I finally found a way in. That didn't cost me anything but time, either, but I do feel rather insecure with all of my info being out there for crooks to use.

October 02, 2008 10:46 AM

Blogger Aden4321 said...

Recently (July/August 2008) Etrade financial froze my CD account and Savings account. They said it was because someone fraudulently opened a brokerage account in my name. They would not tell me the exact date that this occurred but said if I provided them with a notarized affidavit and a police report that they would release my funds. I sent the information that they requested by certified mail. I received the signature confirmation informing me that Etrade received my information. I called their customer service department but they said they had no record of receiving my information. I immediately asked to speak to a manager but they said they could not do that because they could not verify my identity.

It has been over a month since I sent them the information but they refuse to release my funds or let me speak to a manager. I believe Etrade is intentionally trying to hold my funds as well as the funds of many others to prevent a run on their money. If you Google Etrade and frozen funds you will find they are doing this to hundreds of other people.

Is there anything I can do? I need this money to help pay for my son’s college. I am outraged that a firm as large as Etrade would stoop so low as to freeze the assets of hard working blue collar Americans. I am more outraged that the FTC and SEC have chosen to do nothing to Etrade for their obvious crooken practices.

Please help,

Andrew D.

October 07, 2008 7:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

First I just want to say STAY AWAY FROM ETRADE or should I say EHOLD!!

I've never been so pissed at a company in my life!

I opened an etrade account online over a month ago. I decided to open the account because I wanted to purchase stock that day! I went ahead and did a quick transfer and wired money into my etrade account. I tried to make a transaction but it was pending (understandable). I called a representative and they told me that since it was first quick transfer transaction that was going to take longer (17 Days!). After the funds were apparently available I decided make a trade. Apparently, you can't make trades online for under $10/share you have to call the miserable 800-number. After an hour hold time I believe I gave up and hung up (loosing money on a potential stock purchase that i wanted now 18 days ago!). I decided I was FINISHED with etrade, apparently that was just the start of my problems!!! I went to transfer my funds back to my bank account (that etrade already had the routing number and my account number to) and Etrade said that my account had not been setup for outgoing transfers; so, they had to send me two small amounts to my bank account that I had to verify (which took days!). After I verified the numbers, I went to transfer the money and it said the account had not been verified...please click the link to I tried to verify again and it said it was already verified (sending me in a circle). I checked my account recently and there is no money in it. So, I called etrade to figure it out, AFTER I gave ALL my information confirming I am who I am (name, phone, email, home address, birthday, and ssn) they told me there was security issues or "unusual online activity" and that had to send a NOTARIZED letter to them including this information:
1- Name
2- Account number
3- Contact numbers
4- Instruction to resolve security issue in the account

I feel like I need to file a complaint with the BBB, SEC, and FINRA. Or even go to court over this!

October 13, 2008 12:56 PM

Blogger Max Moser said...

Aden I have a couple numbers that helped me when my money was frozen. Send me a mail Monday @ and I will give you them.

October 31, 2008 6:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello folks,

I have never read all the way to the end of the comments on a blog before, but this one got me. I have a story for you, too:

Back in Aug. I married my husband. He has/had both a brokerage account and an IRA with ETrade which were worth over 160K. Part of his divorce decree from this past summer was to split the ETrade assests with his former wife. He cashed out his part so that he could pay off the debts they had accrued over the previous years and then told them to transfer the all the money left into her name. Instead of just changing the name on the account to her’s - which makes the most damn sense to me - they wanted him to transfer it to a "new" account with her name on it. So she opened a new account with them. Then, when we tried to get the money transfered to her and close ours, they just didn't do it. We kept calling and emailing them but we just got the run around.

Eventually, one rep told me that we needed to send them information. They told me they needed to have a copy of the divorce certificate on file.

My husband called up, too, just to be sure we had everything in order. He, of course, got a different person on the phone, who told him that they didn't need the certificate - they needed the whole decree! I told my husband that was BS. I told him not to give it to them and he compromised with sending them just the page of the decree that actually pertained to the division of the ETrade assests. I had a really bad feeling about it. What finacial institution needs all your personal business like that? No bank should have legal documents like that on you!

Well, we sent that in and instead of executing our directives, they gave 70% of the REMAINING amount to her account, and left 30% in our old one!!!! We told them over and over that we wanted all the money to go to her and we wanted to close our account, but they WOULDN’T DO IT! After my husband continued to hound them on this (he was in contempt of court because they wouldn’t do what he told them to do with the money), they explained that after they read the page from the divorce decree, they decided that this is how the money should be split!!!! My husband explained to them ("them" being a rep from ETrade and never the corp. lawyer that supposedly did this) over and over that he had already taken his 30% and did want the rest of it. They then told him that he would have to cash out the account with the penalty fee of 10% in order to give her the rest of the money!! We are now taking legal action against ETrade. We had our lawyer contact the ETrade legal dept. and they refuse to talk to even our lawyer and won't return his phone calls. We will clearly have to take it up a notch.

When in the hell does a bank decide to interpret your legal documents? All they are supposed to do is do what you tell them to do with the money!

If you have similar experiences with this – and happened to read all the way to the end like me, please post.

December 17, 2008 12:59 PM

Blogger Maia said...

Ah yes, I am currently enjoying a hold on ALL of my accounts because of "unusual" activity. They froze my accounts, kept my money, and refuse to call me back. I'm assuming the "unusual" activity is their stock is tanking and they're going under attempting to grab as much interest as they can.


I asked my employers to switch to paper checks and I guess I'll just bury cash in a jar in my backyard.


February 27, 2009 8:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Etrade is a complete scam. Opened account to take advantage of low trading price on blue chip stocks (such as GE around $6.50) only to learn after opening account that they don't allow purcahse of trades under $10 for the first 6 months or some crap. Then learned they have an inactivity fee where, if you don't purchase stocks for a certain period, they levy "penalties" that more than likely offset any modest gains. Further, when transferring my money to a legitimate account -- Charles Schwab -- they levied another $60 in "money tranfer penalties." Do yourself a favor, avoid ETrade like the plague.

May 12, 2009 6:23 AM


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