Bank tellers under orders to be nosy (PA) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Bank tellers under orders to be nosy

Wednesday, December 22, 1999

By Patricia Sabatini, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Planning a trip to the bank to withdraw a wad of cash for the holidays? Don't be surprised if you run into a nosy teller.

Pittsburgh's three largest banks, Mellon, PNC and National City, have told tellers to be on special alert this year for customers making "uncharacteristic" withdrawals. That means the money you want to give old Aunt Polly and the kids as Christmas gifts could trigger a line of questioning.

Bankers say they're concerned about customers being duped in a Y2K-related scam, such as a fast-talking shyster persuading people fearful about computers going haywire to drain their accounts and hand over the money for safekeeping.

Banks also want to warn customers about the risks of carrying around pockets full of cash. Some people worried about Year 2000 glitches are expected to ignore bank assurances to the contrary and withdraw money before year-end to stash at home.

"If a customer comes in and asks for several thousand in cash and that person doesn't usually do that, we may ask them [some questions]," Mellon Bank spokesman Ron Gruendl said.

"We're not trying to pry into their affairs ... but we want to make sure they aren't falling prey to any scams," he said.

Both Mellon and National City last month gave tellers a tip sheet of sorts to help them decide when to raise questions and what to say. At PNC, tellers simply were told to be more vigilant about watching for large cash withdrawals, a spokesman said.

So what happens if a teller suspects a problem?

"They would alert the branch manager," who would try to offer guidance, Mellon's Gruendl said.

So far, none of the banks knows of breaking up any potential scams.

"We haven't seen any cases of fraud, but we suspect they're happening," National City spokesman Bill Eiler said. "We're trying to get out ahead of it with a cautioning."

Although the Federal Reserve hasn't formally urged banks to take the special precautions, it considers the actions "prudent banking practice," spokeswoman June Gates said.

"Any time someone makes a large withdrawal and doesn't normally do that, we'd like to think the bank is making sure they're not being taken advantage of," she said.

Still, she noted, all the bank can do is offer advice.

"If you insist on going ahead, they can't not let you take your money out ... After all, it is your money."

-- Homer Beanfang (, December 23, 1999


Hmm, they seemed to *entirely* forget to mention that if people *do* take their money out, the *bank* takes it up the bung.

To what shall we attribute this lapse? I think we can immediately rule out any semblance of noblese oblige, and home in on "stupidity" or "disingenuity". Personally, my vote is for the latter.

-- Ron Schwarz (, December 23, 1999.

This was on the local 11pm news last night which I just happened to catch.

I've been waiting for this which is why I withdrew early and often in small bills. Fortunately, I could afford it.

The local ABC affiliate did a whole 5 or so segment spread on Y2K and all of the preparations that the local authorities have made, including contingency plans.

The bank report chilled me though.

The local Children's Hospital has 1 month of hospital supplies in their Y2K warehouse.

I am VERY glad that they do, and I really hope they won't be needed.

Still, water could be a problem.

-- nothere nothere (, December 23, 1999.

"they can't not let you take your money out"

Hee hee, print this out and carry it with you. It'll be worth it's wieght in... paper.

This IS true up to a point though: banks do have a lot of "differently able" customers. I used to work in a bank where one of our customers was a retired army Major of advanced years who had a problem understanding the concept of his income having to match his expenditure. Every week, he would brusquely demand his entire balance, and every week we would respectfully suggest that he might want to keep just a little back to pay his bills. It became a bit of a game. I know, his choice. But our consciences.

In this case though... hmmm. I doubt that altruism is at the heart of this policy.

-- Servant (, December 23, 1999.

Whats with this person named Polly?

I have noticed it in more than a few wire stories. What are they trying to tell us, eh?

-- Jim Bob (, December 23, 1999.

I have been on the teller line at a bank in the midwest... this information is true...Have Not seen any bank runs.. people are spending a Lot of Money on Christmas... I think upper management have been suprised that we are this late into the month and their hasn't been any bank runs.... They WERE ready for it.. but nothing... I;'ll let you know when it happens....(Or if it happens).......

-- bank teller (nine to, December 23, 1999.

Hey bank teller:

Everytime I have been to the window to get more 1's, 5's, and 10's I stike up a conversation about all the last minute Christmas shopping. I'm a guy so this is believable up to Christmas. After Christmas the story officially changes to got to buy those Christmas gifts that I forgot.

No panic until new years eve, by then guess what, TOO LATE.

-- Squid (, December 23, 1999.

If the bank teller gets nosy re: taking your money out, just tell'er you're a gun runner and just got word of a special deal on Chicom AK47's smuggled in via Cuba.

-- Mark Hillyard (, December 24, 1999.

Mark - tehehe. Bet the teller will get a chuckle outta that. Just like the folks at the airport when you make bomb jokes. ROTFLMAO-N

-- Linda (, December 24, 1999.

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