Social Question

LuckyGuy's avatar

Has a teller at your bank asked why you are withdrawing a significant amount of cash?

Asked by LuckyGuy (43448points) June 9th, 2023

I am having some work done on my property: excavating and concrete pouring. It is a relatively big job – about 20–25 yards of concrete – and involves an excavation crew and concrete forming and pouring.
Contractors love cash and are more than willing to reduce the price if paid in cash. I went to the bank today to withdraw $8k.

I ca:rried my own personal check and asked to cash it. Before the teller gave me the money she asked: “Are you doing anything fun with it?” I said :“Yes!” “What are you doing with it?” “I’m getting a car.” “Why does your check say “Barn” on it?” At this point I came clean and told her it was for a concrete job for my barn. I asked: “Why are you asking me this? The money is there.”
She said “We are asking all of our elderly customers to make sure they are not being scammed. We have had so many attempted scams recently that we are making it a policy to ask the customers.”
She gave me the cash and I thanked her for protecting us.

I found the whole transaction shocking: She thought I was elderly!

Have you made a withdrawal of greater than $5000 cash recently? Did the teller ask you for info?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

34 Answers

chyna's avatar

You are not elderly!
But I’m a bit torn between them being nosy and with them wanting to keep people safe.
I don’t know how I feel about this. I guess if she had continued a line of questioning after you answered about the barn, I would be annoyed.

canidmajor's avatar

Damn. At least she was honest! I got grilled about money I wanted to transfer, (verified funds) to a verified account, and they asked me a bunch of stupidly personal questions: “How long have you known this person? What are they using the money for?” and when I asked why she said that there was so much fraud blah blah blah. I put up with it because I was in a hurry, but when I went back the next day I wanted to know what would have happened if I refused to answer the Qs, and would they have asked me had I been a 45 year old man. They claimed they asked everybody. Bull shit. It is a small local bank, and I have been with them for 25 years, with not even an overdraft.
That incident convinced me to not move a very large amount through them later in the year.

I thought about saying something about a Nigerian Prince, but I was afraid somebody would have a stroke.

jca2's avatar

No, but I did withdraw a significant amount from two different banks recently and was surprised to find there’s no longer any filling out of withdrawal slips. Both banks (one a large national chain and one a local credit union), the teller said “just tell me how much you want” and I said it, and they took it out and gave it to me. It was all on camera, yes, and I showed ID at both banks and used my ATM card with PIN to verify at the national chain bank, but still, it was quite a surprise from the old days of withdrawal slips.

Smashley's avatar

To be fair, you don’t have to be elderly to be scammed. It’s frankly an epidemic, and I hope every teller at least goes through the diligence of asking. Also, lying about what the money is for is a classic move that the scammers tell the mark to do, exactly because they ask.

I’m sorry they made you feel old.

canidmajor's avatar

@Smashley Do you feel that it is the bank’s job to decide how I use my funds? I feel it would be more appropriate for them to inform their clients of various fraud and scam threats, not to ask those of us with gray hair personal questions.

And really, they didn’t know we weren’t lying, for expediency’s sake.

And really, to be fair do you assume that everyone you do business with is so incompetent that they need someone to monitor their personal stuff?

janbb's avatar

Aww, you’re old. embrace it, LG!

I don’t know that I would have a problem with it, although I would prefer they asked everybody. There certainly are a lot of scammers around.

Smashley's avatar

@canidmajor – No, it is not the bank’s job to decide how you use your funds. At no point were they withholding the cash, or demanding explanation. They were looking out for their client’s best interest in an area they have some expertise in, by asking a simple question. I would hope a Ferrari dealer would also do the due diligence of asking, “do you know how to drive one of these?” It is a simple, non-binding question, no paperwork is signed, and it goes a long way to protect people, without infringing on the rights of anyone.

And while it is much more common for elderly people to be scammed, I hope this behavior is extended to all clients. I have experienced it myself when paying contractors, and I still get carded for beer.

canidmajor's avatar

@Smashley, in my case, yes, they were demanding explanation. Directly. They had also done that a time before when I helped someone with a down payment. They did not directly refuse, but they tied me up for quite a while, and there were calls to higher ups, delays and obfuscations. This recent time, when I realized that the previous incident wasn’t a one-off concerning some weird mortgage lending issue, it started to concern me.

Lovely that you don’t care how your personal financial decisions may monitored and/or obstructed, but I do.

Smashley's avatar

@canidmajor – by chance were the amounts of money involved in your case enough to trigger federal reporting requirements? This would explain why calls were required. If not, well, I agree with you that that is improper.

I do care if a person is actually deprived of something that is their right, but, as I stated, scamming is an epidemic, and banks are often the last line of defense before a person loses their life savings. This happens all the time. Lovely you don’t care that vulnerable people all over the country are being ripped off for everything they have every day, but I do.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

When I was a young adult I wanted to cash my paycheck to pay my rent. The teller refused to give me the money. She stated that the bank wasn’t a check cashing service. I deposited the money, and took the money from the ATM. She was mad, and I took off.

Rents gotta be paid.

Smashley's avatar

@RedDeerGuy1 – it is true that a bank is not a check cashing service. They will take a deposit, and give you your withdrawal, provided you have the available funds, but they are not in the business of microloans. I cannot fathom why a teller was “mad” about this. A check cashing service charges fees which covers the risk that your check may bounce and they may have to spend money to come after you.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Smashley My boss was also my landlord. It was a small town, and everyone knew every one. Except I did not recognize her, and her me.

I think that the bank was short of funds. I didn’t think that the system was organized well. Rent was due on payday.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I withdrew $10k to bury my mom, no questions but we all know eachother here.

canidmajor's avatar

@Smashley no, the amounts were below the triggering minimum. Deliberately.

@KNOWITALL I have known these people for 25 years, that should be long enough. @LuckyGuy lives in a rural area, where, I imagine, they all know each other as well.
Maybe you aren’t old enough to have your mental capacity questioned.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’m comforted to see that I wasn’t the only one on the planet to be asked these questions. She did it very casually and in a friendly manner like she was just passing time while the machines did their job.
Once I heard the reason I didn’t mind so much.

But, “Elderly”? That hurt. :-)

Smashley's avatar

These folks mean well, but they are subject to the biases, the same as anyone else. It sucks that some folk find it oppressive, but in lieu of laws concerning these interactions, everyone just uses their judgement and does the best they can, which is often biased.

The fact a person is well known to the bank is not terribly relevant. If anything, they might feel more inclined to try and protect you from being robbed. I pray if I am every taken as such a sucker that someone intervenes.

But they should have never called you elderly, for sure.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@canidmajor I’m 50, doesn’t that qualify for senior status?! But most of them are on my social media, they knew.

canidmajor's avatar

Not if you’re not gray enough, I guess. I didn’t start getting treated like a senior u til I was very gray.

seawulf575's avatar

Elderly!?! Did you tell her you identify as a younger person?

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@LuckyGuy S*cks to be called “elderly!”

There are so many scammers who target (ahem) mature people, bank tellers are being trained to question large cash withdrawals. Someone might be withdrawing money to send bail money for his/her fake grandchild’s fake arrest, a prevalent scam in recent years. Or, it might be the classic “IRS” theft, when a person’s threatened with arrest and incarceration if s/he doesn’t wire copious amounts of money.

The same approach is being taken by retail stores, such as Target, that sell popular gift cards.
Such gift cards are a common currency of scammers. When a (ahem) mature customer wants to purchase large amounts, the sales clerk might ask why.

RocketGuy's avatar

Seems bankers do it in my neighborhood (as posted by my neighbors). One poster was actually being scammed. The bank asked about her big withdrawal request, and based on her answer, determined it was a scam. So this line of questioning has saved at least one person thousands of dollars.

jca2's avatar

I was at the bank with my teenage daughter a few months ago, sitting with the person at the desk so my daughter could open a new account. While we were there doing our paperwork and going over things, an elderly couple came in, very agitated and kind of frantic. One of the bank officers asked if they needed help, and one of them said that they just had some type of scam call and gave their bank account numbers to the person on the phone. I forgot the type of scam it was but it was something common, like the IRS or something. Anyway, they gave their personal information to the scammers and the bank people were scrambling to try to help them, and while the couple was sitting there, the old guy’s cell phone rang and he answered it and started talking to the scammer on the phone, telling him he was at the bank now. Just totally naive, talking to this person like it was his friend. The bank officer was saying “get off the phone, get off the phone, just hang up, you don’t have to talk to him.” I don’t know what the outcome was but when these things happen, it causes a headache for both the staff at the bank as well as the people who are getting scammed.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@RocketGuy That line of questioning saved one of my neighbors. She got the “Grandma I’m in trouble. Please don’t tell Mom or Dad” phone call. She went to the bank to withdraw cash and the teller said “Marge, I don’t feel comfortable giving you this money.” and elevated it to a manager. They called police and started an investigation. I’m guessing it went nowhere. So there are at least 2 people saved by this ‘annoying’ intervention.

LadyMarissa's avatar

Actually, by law, they are supposed to ask when any large withdrawal is made & report the reason to the government. It’s the same if you make a large cash deposit. There’s all kinds of paperwork that goes along with it to show that the cashier did their due diligence.

Now that there are so many people scamming old people…YES I’m there, the bank has been getting a LOT more diligent in their questions. I had an insurance claim & they gave me a check for the work that should be done & it was up to me to hire & pay the contractor. Once the contractor started, he asked for a $5K cashier check payment to cover supplies. I go to the bank. I knew the cashier as she’s my regular, I had to prove to her that it wasn’t some fly-by-night company who came in telling me that my house needed some work done. I answered a bunch of Qs & then she started wanting to know how I found the contractor. She even went as far as to take the business card that I had & verified that the website was valid. It took me forever to get the cashiers check. I asked her to make a note in their system to say that I was having some extensive repair work done & would be in ever so often for another cc to cover current expenses. That seemed to help with the subsequent withdrawals. It was a royal pain at the time; but after thinking about it, I’m glad they were trying to help to keep me safe. There are plenty of elderly ladies out there who ARE getting scammed of their life savings & I’d prefer to NOT be one of them!!!

@LuckyGuy I don’t remember how old you are…just remember that most of the cashiers are very young, so anybody over 35 is old to them, so you don’t have to be old for them to see you as old!!!

Blackwater_Park's avatar

I don’t get asked and the last time I pulled a bunch of money out to get a boat they just handed me a stack of cash no questions asked. I figured they would. That said I don’t have any problem with tellers watching out for people who may be getting scammed. Scams are getting out of hand and not much is being done about it.

tedibear's avatar

I work in a bank and am required to ask questions if a customer is taking cash in an amount that is unusual for them, or over a certain amount. The only reasons we do it is to prevent scams and money laundering. Part of my job is to protect my customer, not just the bank. I don’t give a flying rat’s fanny what you do with your money as long as you’re not giving to one of the “bad guys.”

I work for a bank with about 60 branches, and we get a minimum of 4 emails a day about customers being scammed. These are about specific customer incidents, not generic “hey watch out for this scam” emails. And who knows how many we don’t know about.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@LadyMarissa You are so sweet. I also feel that way when I see police officers. They look like kids to me.

@tedibear Thank you for looking out for our well being. Really! The whole thing just took me by surprise I did not know that was the norm now.

RocketGuy's avatar

@tedibear – is there a minimum amount before you are required to ask? I heard movements of $10K and above are up for scrutiny.

tedibear's avatar

@RocketGuy – >$10,000 in cash (in or out) is a federal regulation that requires us to file a Currency Transaction Report. Purchase of negotiable instrument(s) with cash between $3,000 and $10,000 is another report. If we suspect criminal activity, we can file a Suspicious Activity Report at any amount.

In reality, I look at the customer’s accounts and typical withdrawals. If what they want is outside the norm, I’m going to ask questions. I have one person who takes $3,000 a month in cash. If she were to ask for more than that, I would say something. A customer who normally takes a small amount and then suddenly asks for a large amount, I’m going to offer an official bank check and explain it’s for their safety. Then I would see where the conversation goes.

I know that’s more than you asked for, but I’m kind of passionate about protecting customers from people who might try to take their money. Especially the elderly, like @LuckyGuy :P

RocketGuy's avatar

@tedibear – that was useful detail. Thanks!

LuckyGuy's avatar

@tedibear Great info! There is a lot happening on your side of the partition.
On my side, being elderly, not so much! :-)

canidmajor's avatar

Thanks for that, @tedibear. I asked at my bank what the minimum $ amount was at which they started grilling us, they said none, but that sounded very odd to me as well.

Brian1946's avatar

We elderly jellies need all the help we can get to protect our funs! ;)

RocketGuy's avatar

Scammers want to ruin our fun!

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther