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Give Them No Credit; They Haven’t Earned It

, , , , , , | Working | September 24, 2020

When I was a child, I had a “Trust CD” account set up for me at a credit union, which contained money that I obtained as the result of a personal injury lawsuit my dad won. It is a two-hour drive to the credit union, so a four-hour round trip. It is not exactly useful to have an account that way, and this credit union is behind the times and cannot be accessed via Internet or ATMs. 

When I turn eighteen in 2008, I go to get the account cleared out to be placed into a bank that is closer to where I live.

My first visit:

Me: “Hi. I’d like to check on my trust account—” *gives information* “—and see about getting it moved into a different account.”

Teller #1: “I can confirm the account is here, and it’s [amount]. But I can’t access this without your parent or guardian.”

Me: *Pause* “Yeah, you can. It’s my account and I’m eighteen now. I just showed you my ID. My birthday was yesterday.”

Teller #1: “Your age doesn’t matter. [Father] is still on the account, too.”

Me: “As the trustee, yes, but not as the account owner. It says that he is the trustee until [my eighteenth birthday]. We have passed that date. I am now, legally, the account owner. Additionally, my dad can’t come here because he’s disabled and the trip would be too far for him to do safely. He lives in [Faraway City].”

Teller #1: “Well, I can’t help you.”

The teller then just looks away like she can’t even see me anymore and stares into space pretending to wait for the next customer. Frustrated, I leave and call my dad. Despite knowing it’ll cause him a lot of pain from being in a vehicle that long due to his back injury, he agrees to come help me a few days later.

My second visit:

I’m tense but as polite as I can manage to be.

Me: “Hi, I’m here with my legal guardian. I’ve just turned eighteen, and he and I are the only names on this trust account. I want it to be released into my care, as I am a legal adult.”

I give them my information. The teller reads something on their screen.

Teller #2: “Sorry, I can’t do that.”

My dad is grumpy from being in pain.

Dad: “Why the h*** not?”

Teller: *Slightly intimidated* “B-because it’s a trust account.”

Dad: “Not since [my eighteenth birthday]; that’s the release date. Now release it!”

Without another word, the teller suddenly leaves her station. We wait. And wait. And wait. It is clear she wants us to just leave, but we decide to stay until formally trespassed, in which case, they’ll be forced to give us all the money from the account anyway.

Eventually, a manager comes to see us, and she has a super irritating fake smile.

Manager: “How can I help you?”

Me: “You can give me access to my own account. The information should be up on the screen already. As you can see, I’m now eighteen, the trust date has passed, and the account legally belongs to me. Your employee refused to release the account on [day after my birthday] without the trustee. Here he is. Now give us the account.”

The manager shakes her head “no,” still with that fake-smile plastered on her face.

Manager: “That won’t be happening today. If you won’t leave, I will call the police.”

My dad puts his feet up on the desk between us and the manager, in part to intimidate and in part to relieve his back pain.

Dad: “Okay, then. Call the cops. [County Police Chief] still works in this area, right?”

The manager looks like she’s just sucked on a lemon. The cops here are incredibly corrupt, so my dad smartly made friends with them so that if he were involved in trouble, it’d be easier for him to get out of it. My dad actually hates cops, but he does what he has to so he can keep our family safe, since he is often mistaken for being black and I am often mistaken for being white.

Manager: *Resumes the fake smile* “You won’t be getting this account. You’ll have to come back with a court order. By then, late fees will basically wipe it out anyway, so you may as well not bother.”

My dad chuckles at the idea of the challenge.

Dad: “Oh, we’ll see about that.”

So, we go to court to get a judge to force the credit union to give us the money. In the paperwork, we include the demand that no fees or deductions may be applied to the account since this issue was caused by the credit union’s mishandling of the account. I also prepare a court summons document, in case they refuse the court order.

My third visit:

My dad comes with me again despite the pain it causes him. Thankfully, he is able to take something for the pain this time so he’s not nearly as grumpy.

Me: *To the teller* “Hi. You need to close my account and issue me a cashier’s check for the entire balance. No fees are permitted to be applied, by court order.”

I give them my information.

Teller #3: *Looking scared* “Uh, I’ll just get the manager.”

This teller flees to the back room. Guess who comes out? It’s Miss Manager Sue Me! My dad speaks up before either the manager or I have a chance to say anything.

Dad: *Seriously* “If we have to tell the story to one more person, I’m going to make this a serious problem for you. You know who we are. Do what the court demands of you.”

The manager attempts to take the court order and turn to walk away, but my dad grabs her arm.

Dad: “No, you can read it right here. I don’t want any chance of you messing it up, like you did with the trust account in the first place.”

The manager reluctantly sits down and my dad lets her go.

Manager: *Fake smile* “Well, it looks like this matter is settled. Now, after fees and penalties, you’ll get—”

I speak louder so other customers can hear, genuinely getting angry.

Me: “You are refusing the demands of a court order right now. Stop trying to steal my money with your bulls***!”

Her fake smile turns into a furious scowl, and she starts being really short with us.

Manager:Fine! I will issue you the cashier’s check—”

Dad: *Interrupting her* “For the full amount, right?”

Manager: *Growling under her breath* “Of course.”

Finally, we close the account and she produces the cashier’s check. She holds it over the table and I attempt to grab it, but she turns it toward my dad to keep it out of my grasp.

Dad: “It isn’t my account, dingbat. How many times do we have to repeat ourselves? Give. It. To. My. Daughter.”

The manager reluctantly turns to hold it out toward me again. I grab it but she doesn’t let go, and I am literally forced to play tug-of-war with her. She clearly hopes to “accidentally” destroy it. My dad slaps her wrist like one would a toddler reaching for the stove, which shocks her into letting it go.

Manager: *Aggressive, but fake-smiling again* “So, would you like to open a checking account with us?”

Dad & Me: *In unison, loudly* “NO!”

She looked genuinely surprised by our response. I took the cashier’s check to a different bank closer to where I live.

The next year, we found out that the credit union had actually failed to give us the whole amount! It was found during an audit. Thankfully, the IRS took that money, and we just had to fill out some quick paperwork to get the last of it instead of having to go to the courthouse again. The IRS was way more reasonable about the whole issue and they were happy to help us finish our association with the credit union, which included closing the trust account without penalty, since the credit union hadn’t actually closed my account that day.

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