Growing loss of services / access from some US banks

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CyberG
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Growing loss of services / access from some US banks

Post by CyberG » Wed Dec 30, 2020 6:03 pm

Since moving to Chile over 5 years ago the two US banks that I have accounts with (PNC and Wells Fargo) have been removing/blocking/limiting services that were previously available and functioning when I left the US. This includes the ability to remotely initiate fund transfers, in the last year both stopped support virtual/VOIP phone numbers - thus preventing Zelle from also working, and most recently blocking certain access/features if not from a US IP address (PNC). Also, just today, PayPal ask me to enter a mobile number, which I already had my virtual one in my account, but when I re-entered that number, it was not accepted either.

At this rate I am concerned about the long-term access to my money. I understand that not all banks are the same or don't care to support expats / travelers, but since these 2 banks are now not providing alternative options / services to make up for what has been lost, I am becoming forced to find an international / expat-friendly bank. My research came up with CitiGroup, HSBC, and Schwab. Citi is tied to Banco de Chile, with whom I also have an account with. HSBC, I don't much about there presence here. And I've seen recent, positive comments on this forum about Schwab.

So I wanted to ask this forum, what are your experiences with any or all of those 3 banks in regards to the typical expat banking needs (ie remote fund transfers, ATM fees, support for virtual numbers (or not requiring them to use service), etc.)

Thank you in advance and happy new year!

papageno
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Re: Growing loss of services / access from some US banks

Post by papageno » Wed Dec 30, 2020 6:10 pm

Look into Bank of America or US Bank as alternatives

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Re: Growing loss of services / access from some US banks

Post by admin » Wed Dec 30, 2020 6:46 pm

yea, I had one of my U.S. accounts that I had no problems sending wires out of up to last year, that was using a text over skype key to confirm the wire, suddenly stop working.

Tried contacting the bank about it multiple times, and just got generic crap like, "we will have technical support contact you". They never did.

I also noticed that in bound international wires from foreign banks to my U.S. bank started failing more and more, depending on country and region it originated from. Mostly Europe it seemed, but also other countries. I quit having wires sent there, that did not originate in the United States.

Does not really matter to me all that much. I hardly use my U.S. accounts any more for anything that is not united states related. However, say 20 or 25 years ago I would have been very pissed about it because it was my only way to moving money as an expat.

I am not even remotely surprised by it. The united states has been on a "screw expats out of their citizenship and money" kick anyway they can, that has been getting progressively more aggressive for the last 20+ years. If you try to leave, they will just keep making it harder, and harder, and harder. They would not want anyone else to get the idea they can take their money and assets and leave.
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DLPurser
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Re: Growing loss of services / access from some US banks

Post by DLPurser » Sat Jan 02, 2021 9:45 am

CyberG wrote:
Wed Dec 30, 2020 6:03 pm
Since moving to Chile over 5 years ago the two US banks that I have accounts with (PNC and Wells Fargo) have been removing/blocking/limiting services that were previously available and functioning when I left the US. This includes the ability to remotely initiate fund transfers, in the last year both stopped support virtual/VOIP phone numbers - thus preventing Zelle from also working, and most recently blocking certain access/features if not from a US IP address (PNC).
I have not tried this, but could you sign up for a vpn service and specify a US based server? I think I have read that you can access US content on Netflix from abroad this way. Just a thought.

CyberG
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Re: Growing loss of services / access from some US banks

Post by CyberG » Sat Jan 02, 2021 10:18 am

DLPurser wrote:
Sat Jan 02, 2021 9:45 am
I have not tried this, but could you sign up for a vpn service and specify a US based server? I think I have read that you can access US content on Netflix from abroad this way. Just a thought.
Yes, a VPN would work for the limited cases of IP blocking at PNC, but not for any of the VOIP issues, which is the bigger problem as they are basically using a US-only mobile number (account ownership?) as a second form of identification. This could be countered by maintaining a US mobile phone service, so that is less than ideal.

mem
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Re: Growing loss of services / access from some US banks

Post by mem » Sat Jan 02, 2021 12:02 pm

Yes you are going to want to access US banks and really any US financial institution from a US IP address.
It could be a vpn that you use at home and also use for accessing US based Netflix/Prime/Disney+ content but it could also just be a really cheap windows vm/vps in the cloud that you can remote desktop into that is US based and then just do your US banking from that machine.

Second you need to not give them a mobile number. If you dont give a mobile number then they cant enable text message banking including the geo specific authentication checks. You really can succeed with this in almost all cases. They will beg and demand for it everytime you log in but just keep saying to remind you later or X out the dialog or whatever you can to just get past the request

However...There are few exceptions...like you mentioned not necessarily sending a Zelle transfer but adding a zelle recipient. I struggled with this as well in spite of avoiding the text message check with WF prior to engaging with their zelle services. There are 2 ways to workaround it
1) Give them a US mobile number (if you must) of a trusted friend/family member that is in the US and when you are going to trigger a Zelle text message call your buddy on skype or whatsapp or whatever and tell them to get ready to receive a text or a phone call with a robot voice and coordinate with them. I have done this many times successfully. You usually need to enter a 6 digit code that your buddy can just let you hear on speakerphone or read off to you. Just takes a minute

2) There is an ATT plan where you can get a cheap android phone in the US (youd probably have to go to the US or have a trusted buddy do it for you) with an International plan that includes 60 voice minutes per month and unlimited text messages and 1GB of data. $60'sh USD a month I believe. The plan itself has changed over the years in name but its still there.
Then bring that phone to Chile or have your buddy activate the phone in the US and then send it to you (it must be activated first there). When you get it and want to use it for Internet just enable International Data Roaming and make sure that you are sure that you are sure you never go over that 1GB cap. Dont even plan to use the phone for calls longer than 1 minute (a call that connects and disconnects still dings you for a full minute). I did this and it works with the phone continuously being in Chile all the time for several years (for me since Jan 2018) and to this day. I almost never original voice calls on it and if I get a call on it I get off the call as soon as I can with an eye on that 60 min limit per month

You dont even have to register the phone in Chile because the phone does not have a primary contract with the local Entel or Movistar or Claro rather it is seen as a foreign roaming phone (like a perma tourist phone with an international plan) so it will just connect to any available local cell network and use their network so make sure it can do 4G for best interop. But ATT is your only contact point. Again I can 100% confirm all of this

Cheapest/fastest is the buddy system with workaround 1 but workaround 2 is really nice with unlimited text messaging both ways between US and Chile

Just know that if you have an account at pretty much any US financial institution that you started when you were still a resident in the US and now they find out you are not a US resident they will almost certainly close the account unless they are a very special institution that doesn't primarily cater to US resident retail customers for the business unit the account is classed under.
So to walk the line it is important to give a wide berth and make sure you always access their services from a US IP (preferable a somewhat stable US IP that you can add as trusted in some cases) and if they send you an email with a link. Dont click that link from a Chile IP...click it from the US IP

List your virtual/Voip number as your Home number and make sure that you can call the financial institution and their caller id will show your virtual home number. This is very important

Also it is good to setup some auto recurring payments for us bills on a monthly basis from critical US account. It needs to look like a normal account. With sundry domestic activity. Use a separate less important US account like a Schwab accout for atm withdrawals.

Be prepared for a call one day from a real person at a bank where there is a history of not abiding by the above guidelines....quizzing you on your residency status

Mind your fact pattern :salut:

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eeuunikkeiexpat
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Re: Growing loss of services / access from some US banks

Post by eeuunikkeiexpat » Sat Jan 02, 2021 1:14 pm

I use Mom's address also my real US address when I visit the States for US landline and address for US banking purposes.

Regarding the above #2 point, I have been on a dumbphone AT&T international enabled plan for decades. I keep it yes for the SMS verification messages from banks (Citibank), Amazon, Ebay, PayPal; to have an active phone when I hit the ground in the States (the same number has served me before I left to the present as a valid enterable US number); as a true international phone wherever I may find myself in the world; and ultimately as my emergency contact phone (AT&T SMS was the way I got word to the States that I was OK in those initial dark hours in Chile when all Chile voice and data services were down/overwhelmed after 28F).

Yes with the payment of a monthly US bill (AT&T) with Citibank.

I access the Citibank site from Chile sans VPN and have called Citibank via VOIP from Chile many times to fix issues and have never lied about being in Chile for months at a time.

I also access the CapitalOne site without VPN and also never had a problem.

I have accessed BankDirect site without VPN (but not recently) without a problem.

I have accessed TIAABank site without VPN (but not recently) without a problem.
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mem
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Re: Growing loss of services / access from some US banks

Post by mem » Sat Jan 02, 2021 1:41 pm

After struggling with text verifications...when I finally got the att phone back to Chile I almost couldn't believe how great it has been as you described.

I too have been able to access various sites directly from Chile with YMMV. What bothered me most was that several sites began throwing exceptions wanting email confirmation or text confirmation just becasue I was on an unseen before Chile IP which happened every time with a typical Chilean internet plan with dhcp.
That along with zelle text authentication and a call from a large well known bank I had an account with since the 90s made me become overly strict in any contact with them.

It just seems like it's only getting more problematic as time goes on

I would advocate that if they ask you pointed questions becasue they are already suspicious one should tell the truth and accept the consequences. If that institution will not allow a long time customer who is not a US resident will lose a good customer

I think it helps to be aware of how these more tech savvy institutions are viewing and tracking our contact points with them

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eeuunikkeiexpat
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Re: Growing loss of services / access from some US banks

Post by eeuunikkeiexpat » Sat Jan 02, 2021 4:39 pm

Assume they already know the answer to the questions they ask because they probably do...
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fraggle092
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Re: Growing loss of services / access from some US banks

Post by fraggle092 » Sun Jan 03, 2021 10:14 am

Not just the US. Barclays recently blocked online access to my UK account. The credentials that had worked since 2010 just didn't any more. After spending a lot on several fruitless international phone calls to their "help" line, I ended up posting a letter to my branch manager as I have no intention of installing their friggin app for an account that's rarely used. Pathetic.

Suspect that its more to do with trying to restrict Money Laundering, given that drug traffic is Chile's only growth industry at present.
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CyberG
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Re: Growing loss of services / access from some US banks

Post by CyberG » Tue Jan 26, 2021 12:07 pm

Thanks for all of the replies ... it is clear that the screws are tightening.

As for banks, it looks like the recommendations vary. I also just found out that BCI and Banco de Chile have physical branches in Miami. And a friend of a Chilean friend is in the US and uses BdC. So two other options to check into ... It's probably better to put that into another thread though.

Cheers!

brownarc
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Re: Growing loss of services / access from some US banks

Post by brownarc » Sat Jan 30, 2021 8:07 am

Ill just say this. Wells Fargo is garbage shit slime. I only deal with them when it is necessary.

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