My first poor Ally Bank experience

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Gufomel
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My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by Gufomel » Fri Jul 07, 2017 7:53 am

I've been been doing some bank account bonus churning and using Ally as my hub account (I've used Ally as my primary checking and savings account for several years but only recently started opening some other accounts for bonuses). This does involve linking several external accounts to my Ally account, and transferring in and out of my Ally checking account a few times a month. A couple of the transactions have been for $15k, so I can understand how this could potentially create an automatic fraud alert in their system. I've never come anywhere near the $ transfer limits (I believe those limits are quite high) or the number of accounts that can be linked (I believe I've heard that it's 25) and I've never received any type of notification that there's an issue - until today.

Today I logged in to make sure that the last $15k transfer that I recently made to an external account (which needs to be deposited in my other external account by 7/14/2017 to qualify for the bonus) successfully went through. It showed that it transferred, but then that it was returned. As I dug around more, I found that all of my scheduled recurring transactions were no longer showing as scheduled, my external accounts were no longer available for transfer, and when I went to the page for setting up external accounts it said that my account had been unlocked and I needed to call to get it unlocked. Understandable. No problem.

I called and spoke to a nice agent, as usual with Ally. Quickly verified my security information, and we got on to discussing the issue. At first she thought I had been locked out of my account (e.g. too many incorrect password entries), but once she understood that my account was locked from making transfers, she said that she needed to put me on hold for 3-4 minutes. Sounded like something she hadn't heard of before. She came back on soon and said that she would need to transfer me to another department, and I would need to be on hold for another 3-4 minutes. I said that would be fine. However, I waited for at least 15 minutes. Finally she came back on, and acted surprised I was still there and said she thought I had hung up (???). She then told me that another department would contact me within 2 business days.

Apart from being asked to stay on hold for 3-4 minutes, only to wait for 15 minutes and then the agent tell me she thought I'd hung up, it's a little disappointing that no one can handle this for up to 2 business days, which also overlaps a weekend. That's a bit of a long time to not have access to my primary checking and savings. I'm not sure what would happen if I try to use my debit card or write a check that gets cashed. I would hope those transactions would still go through, but I guess there's no way to know. At a minimum, I can't transfer my money.

Putting aside the merits of bonus chasing (I can understand why my account may have been flagged for fraud) and the concerns that some people have about using online only banks, it's a little bit concerning to me how this case is being handled. I have had nothing but excellent experiences with Ally in both the use of their online system and my interactions with their customer service. This does sour it a little bit for me. We'll see where it goes from here/how long it takes to resolve.

Has anyone had this issue or similar issues with Ally, and if so, was it resolved to your satisfaction?

retired recently
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by retired recently » Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:09 am

I have used Ally for many years and recently had my first poor experience although admittedly I could have known better as the information is listed.

I wanted to take advantage of the No Penalty CD so I had a cashier's check made out to me from my local Credit Union. After trying to deposit online I learned they have a daily deposit limit which I was exceeding (if it matters, the amount of my intended deposit is not large compared to my balance of CDs held at Ally). After trying to see if I could get this waived and the check accepted I gave up and had the credit union decrease the check sizes so it would work. Then I started buying the CDs and exceeded the limits of 6 per month. I should have known about this as they do show it but I think it would be better if they did not allow me to make the transaction as opposed to allowing it and then charging me $10 (I successfully got the fee waived).

Ultimately all worked out but I thought/think the entire purchase of the CDs should have been quick and easy but I ended up spending a lot more time than I feel is reasonable.

mpsz
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by mpsz » Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:21 am

I'm having a hard time gathering what the issue is here. Is it the 2-day wait for someone to get back to you?

The most likely answer is that Ally is checking your accounts to see if you are laundering money. They're required to comply with federal anti-money laundering rules. This is different than them checking your account for possible fraud.

"Churning" is perfectly legal, but adding/removing lots of external accounts, transferring large sums, etc. will raise a lot of red flags.

So this should be an indication that (1) you may be churning a bit too hard and (2) you should keep one of your new accounts as a backup checking account.

Gufomel
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by Gufomel » Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:51 am

mpsz wrote:I'm having a hard time gathering what the issue is here. Is it the 2-day wait for someone to get back to you?

The most likely answer is that Ally is checking your accounts to see if you are laundering money. They're required to comply with federal anti-money laundering rules. This is different than them checking your account for possible fraud.

"Churning" is perfectly legal, but adding/removing lots of external accounts, transferring large sums, etc. will raise a lot of red flags.

So this should be an indication that (1) you may be churning a bit too hard and (2) you should keep one of your new accounts as a backup checking account.
This is probably a correct assessment of the situation and the reason for the 2-day wait. My issue with what happened started off with being told by the agent that she thought I'd hung up after I had waited on hold for 15 minutes. Then I was confused by the 2 day wait on top of that. The 15 minute hold was probably just a misunderstanding, and the 2 day wait makes sense. Thanks for your insight.

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UncleLeo
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by UncleLeo » Wed Jul 12, 2017 1:04 am

I'm in a very similar situation: planning to use my Ally account as a proxy to move money to another account for a bonus. I'm planning to split the whole sum needed for the bonus into 2 transfers, and have already initiated the first one.
@Gufomel, Any advice regarding how to avoid transfers being blocked? Was it your second/third transfer that got blocked? What were the intervals of the transfers? Was the issue resolved eventually?
@retired recently , Regarding the no penalty CDs, I couldn't find the 6 per month limit documented anywhere, Can you please share a link?
Is the limit 6 per calendar month?

Keepcalm
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by Keepcalm » Wed Jul 12, 2017 4:56 am

Not very thrilled with Ally either.

Initiated a wire transfer request at 4:30AM EST yesterday to transfer from Ally to USAA. 330PM later that day funds are still in my Ally account.

Wasn't a happy camper. Pretty much told the rep if I wanted to wait I would have saved my 20.00 wire fee and opted for a normal ACH transfer.

After about 30 min on the phone and pulling a few teeth she connected me straight to the wire department who took care of it while I was on the phone. So the wire did end up going through and completed yesterday however if I had not called it would have been a multi day process.

I just found the entire process and the time I had to spend rectifying the process ridiculous especially when you pay for the service.

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Tamarind
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by Tamarind » Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:00 am

It's definitely poor customer service, however brick and mortar banks are not any better. These days employees at physical locations for many banks are not given access to enough information to help with more complex issues even if you walk in. I had an issue recently with a recurring transfer from an external account being marked returned 3 months after the fact (!) and after unhelpful phone support visited a branch, only to find they could see nothing on their terminals about transfers at all.

MikeG62
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by MikeG62 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:08 am

I've been using Ally for almost a full decade now. I've been very happy with them (and in fact have recently consolidated all my online banking with Ally). However, I do think they can be frustrating to deal with in certain cases. A few personal experiences:

1. Daughter's Ally debit card was compromised several months ago. Process of getting charges cleared took well over 1 month. Lots of paperwork to fill out. Was given provisional credit while they investigated (only after I asked for it) and took >1 month before provisional credit was removed and permanent credit was issued. Seemed kind of long to me.

2. Daughter's Ally credit card was compromised a few weeks ago. Called and they cancelled the card. That was fine. Took a good week and a half to get a replacement card in the mail. As a comparison, my Dad's Costco VISA card was compromised last week and Citibank sent a replacement card by overnight mail.

It is not uncommon when logging into Ally that I have to request a security code (sent to my phone). Sometimes the code takes a good 5 minutes to hit my phone. It is frustrating that I need to get a code when I consistently log in from the same computer and have previously indicated that the computer is safe and that it takes some time to get the code. It just seems Ally is not as robust on the customer service side and these touch points as a B&M bank.

These pain points nowhere near enough to cause me to move my $ elsewhere. Ally still the best online bank of the three I have used (Ally, Discover and Barclays).

BeneIRA
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by BeneIRA » Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:33 am

It's been out there for a while that Ally doesn't like to be a cog in the chain with a lot of transfers to different banks. I remember a couple of years ago they shut several people down for that. Just something to be aware of.

Loandapper
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by Loandapper » Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:38 am

Gufomel wrote:...contact me within 2 business days...
OP, it's been two business days. What was the outcome?

sschoe2
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by sschoe2 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:03 am

Way back in 2009 when they were GMAC bank I tried opening an account. I had just moved and they apparently had such trouble dealing with that fact despite my full cooperation that they finally just denied me a new account. I decided I didn't want those buffoons handing my money and never tried again. I am much happier with a credit union.

Gufomel
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by Gufomel » Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:33 am

Loandapper wrote:
Gufomel wrote:...contact me within 2 business days...
OP, it's been two business days. What was the outcome?
Sorry for neglecting to come back and update. Ally did resolve this, and rather quickly. Before the end of the day, they had re-granted me full access to my account, with the only exception that they suspended my ability to transfer to the specific bank that seemed to cause the issue. I have several other banks linked to my Ally account, and I still have full access to transfer to those. It was just this one bank that was suspended. There was a note that I could try to re-authorize that account, however I just decided to delete it. I instead set up a transfer in my other bank account to pull the amount from Ally. FYI, that transaction was successful.

It's probably ultimately my fault for having too many links to other accounts and treating Ally as a hub account (although I do genuinely use Ally as my primary checking and savings, I can understand if it does not appear that way). With that said, it would be nice if they could give an indication of a limit for numbers of accounts that you can link and transfers that you can make. If they don't want this to be done, they should set a clear limit. That's my only complaint. However, they resolved this issue very quickly.

Gufomel
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by Gufomel » Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:39 am

UncleLeo wrote:I'm in a very similar situation: planning to use my Ally account as a proxy to move money to another account for a bonus. I'm planning to split the whole sum needed for the bonus into 2 transfers, and have already initiated the first one.
@Gufomel, Any advice regarding how to avoid transfers being blocked? Was it your second/third transfer that got blocked? What were the intervals of the transfers? Was the issue resolved eventually?
@retired recently , Regarding the no penalty CDs, I couldn't find the 6 per month limit documented anywhere, Can you please share a link?
Is the limit 6 per calendar month?
In response to your question to me, if you're only doing this for one bonus, I highly doubt you'll have an issue. I've done several bonuses/transfers in and out recently. In this specific case, my spouse and I each applied for separate savings accounts at another bank. I transferred $15k from our Ally account to my external account, and then back to Ally a few days later. My spouse then tried to transfer $15k from our Ally account to her external account. That's when the transaction was blocked. We had done other similar transactions (though for smaller amounts) over the previous days/weeks.

Gufomel
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by Gufomel » Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:44 am

BeneIRA wrote:It's been out there for a while that Ally doesn't like to be a cog in the chain with a lot of transfers to different banks. I remember a couple of years ago they shut several people down for that. Just something to be aware of.
Interesting and understandable. Thanks for the heads up. As mentioned in the post I just made above, I believe they should make clear what the limits are as far as linked external accounts and number/frequency/amounts of external transactions, especially if they are going to shut people down. As far as I'm aware, I have not done anything that they are not ok with (until this recent experience). Their online transfer system makes it appear that they do not care whatsoever how many external transactions you're making. They don't indicate a maximum number of accounts you can link or number of transactions from your checking account, and they make clear every time you do a transfer that there's no fee.

fareastwarriors
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by fareastwarriors » Thu Jul 13, 2017 2:32 pm

Thanks for sharing your experience. I haven't had any negative experiences with Ally yet.

cdog999
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by cdog999 » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:03 pm

Yikes, I've been using Ally as my primary "hub" for all my bonuses and MS since Fido shut me down last year. I too use this as my account for everything and keep a hefty balance. But, there is quite a lot moving in and out between different places, recently started using billpay as I'm hoping they don't frown upon that. Seriously there are better ways to ML like real estate. Its a shame that normal people that have a side hobby get caught up in this nonsense.

retired recently
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by retired recently » Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:10 am

UncleLeo - look at the features for the Ally money market account. It states "up to 6 additional transactions"...

https://www.ally.com/bank/money-market-account/

cherijoh
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by cherijoh » Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:01 am

Gufomel wrote:
In response to your question to me, if you're only doing this for one bonus, I highly doubt you'll have an issue. I've done several bonuses/transfers in and out recently. In this specific case, my spouse and I each applied for separate savings accounts at another bank. I transferred $15k from our Ally account to my external account, and then back to Ally a few days later. My spouse then tried to transfer $15k from our Ally account to her external account. That's when the transaction was blocked. We had done other similar transactions (though for smaller amounts) over the previous days/weeks.
No wonder they shut you down. That is classic sign of money laundering. Then there is the fact that it was over $10K - which means they are required to report it to the Feds.
Gufomel wrote: As mentioned in the post I just made above, I believe they should make clear what the limits are as far as linked external accounts and number/frequency/amounts of external transactions, especially if they are going to shut people down. As far as I'm aware, I have not done anything that they are not ok with (until this recent experience). Their online transfer system makes it appear that they do not care whatsoever how many external transactions you're making.
If they spelled out the rules like you suggest, it would just be a roadmap for money launderers to follow to avoid detection. I expect they have a proprietary algorithm to detect suspicious behavior - no doubt based on the number of transfers, the number of banks involved, the combinations of money going out and coming in, etc. So it isn't any one factor, but a combination. I would be extremely surprised if they shared what specifically got you locked out - I doubt the customer service rep even knows.

BTW, whenever you are trying to detect binary behavior (e.g., Fraud/No Fraud) there is a high risk of misclassification - which is what happened in your case. But if they tweak the algorithm to reduce false positives, they automatically increase the risk that they are failing to detect the real behavior.
cdog999 wrote:Yikes, I've been using Ally as my primary "hub" for all my bonuses and MS since Fido shut me down last year. I too use this as my account for everything and keep a hefty balance. But, there is quite a lot moving in and out between different places, recently started using billpay as I'm hoping they don't frown upon that. Seriously there are better ways to ML like real estate. Its a shame that normal people that have a side hobby get caught up in this nonsense.
See my response above to Gufomel. Personally, I don't consider any effort to detect a serious crime as "nonsense".

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runner9
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by runner9 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:21 am

We bank only at Ally. My son has started collecting dimes. I spent 8 minutes in a very short line that didn't move at a bank, just to trade in 2 rolls of dimes for 2 different rolls. Reminded me why I love Ally.

chisey
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by chisey » Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:58 am

fareastwarriors wrote:Thanks for sharing your experience. I haven't had any negative experiences with Ally yet.
Same here. I've been a customer since it was GMAC bank and have never had any significant issues. You have to realize its limitations compared to a brick and mortar bank, but once you accept those it's hard to beat its advantages, IMO.

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midareff
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by midareff » Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:08 am

No issues with Ally here.... bought 3 of those No Penalty CD's band, bang, bang. Use their automated deposits and withdrawal system to move money (small sums) to my Credit Union several times a month to keep it off the no activity list.

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Index Fan
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by Index Fan » Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:31 am

I've never needed to talk to anyone at the financial institutions I am a member of. Apparently that's the key to having a positive experience.
"Optimum est pati quod emendare non possis." | -Seneca

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sperry8
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by sperry8 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:55 pm

Gufomel wrote:
Loandapper wrote:
Gufomel wrote:...contact me within 2 business days...
OP, it's been two business days. What was the outcome?
Sorry for neglecting to come back and update. Ally did resolve this, and rather quickly. Before the end of the day, they had re-granted me full access to my account, with the only exception that they suspended my ability to transfer to the specific bank that seemed to cause the issue. I have several other banks linked to my Ally account, and I still have full access to transfer to those. It was just this one bank that was suspended. There was a note that I could try to re-authorize that account, however I just decided to delete it. I instead set up a transfer in my other bank account to pull the amount from Ally. FYI, that transaction was successful.

It's probably ultimately my fault for having too many links to other accounts and treating Ally as a hub account (although I do genuinely use Ally as my primary checking and savings, I can understand if it does not appear that way). With that said, it would be nice if they could give an indication of a limit for numbers of accounts that you can link and transfers that you can make. If they don't want this to be done, they should set a clear limit. That's my only complaint. However, they resolved this issue very quickly.
I think the limit is 20 banks... I am at the limit. I use Ally as my ACH hub too. And I too ran afoul of a fraud issue like you. It caused all sorts of troubles for that specific account for a few weeks (money was held in "limbo" until it ultimately came back). Then when it did, I held a conference call with Ally and the other bank to re-authorize it. Now it works fine.

It appears Ally is taking fraud more seriously and that's fine with me. Although it took 4-5 phone calls over the 2 weeks, everyone at Ally was courteous and it all worked out in the end. I continue to use them as my ACH hub.
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UncleLeo
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by UncleLeo » Sat Jul 15, 2017 3:47 pm

retired recently wrote:UncleLeo - look at the features for the Ally money market account. It states "up to 6 additional transactions"...

https://www.ally.com/bank/money-market-account/
Did you fund your CDs from a Money market account?
I think this limit applies on transfers to/from Money market accounts. CDs are not a money market accounts, so I believe that if funding CDs from a checking account there should be no limit.

TIAX
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by TIAX » Sat Jul 15, 2017 5:09 pm

cherijoh wrote: No wonder they shut you down. That is classic sign of money laundering. Then there is the fact that it was over $10K - which means they are required to report it to the Feds.
A common misconception. This only applies to cash deposits, not electronic transfers between a customer's accounts.

cdog999
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Re: My first poor Ally Bank experience

Post by cdog999 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:22 am

TIAX wrote:
cherijoh wrote: No wonder they shut you down. That is classic sign of money laundering. Then there is the fact that it was over $10K - which means they are required to report it to the Feds.
A common misconception. This only applies to cash deposits, not electronic transfers between a customer's accounts.
I stated the same thing earlier but my post was deleted.

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