HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut Attorney General William Tong is asking for new authority over bank protection failures after receiving more than 400 complaints about M&T Bank’s merger with People’s United Bank.
“Five months after the conversion, my office continues to receive complaints from individuals who cannot manage a loved-one’s money despite having the legal authority to do so under a power of attorney, because M&T curtailed their account access,” Tong said in a written announcement on Tuesday. “When my office brought this systemic issue to M&T’s attention, they refused to address the problem broadly, opting instead to wait for customers to complain and resolve the complaints on a case-by-case basis. Other common complaints include a sudden loss of access to online banking and debit accounts; inability to make payments or obtain records on loans transferred from People’s United to M&T; and defaulting checking customers into M&T checking account products requiring the highest minimum balance, with highest fees.”
Some customers reported that automatic payment dates were shifted in October without notice, which caused bills to be late. The same customers also had trouble getting M&T Bank to fix the issue, according to Tong.
“Some of most common and perhaps most disturbing complaints are related to unauthorized deposits and withdrawals,” Tong said. “Consumers complained to my office that paychecks were not deposited despite their employer transferring the money to them. Others reported that large sums of money disappeared from their accounts without explanation and they had to fight with M&T to get their own money returned.”
Tong asks for the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 to give him additional power to enforce parts of the law, which includes allowing him to conduct investigations.
“M&T has worked with all impacted customers to resolve their issues and regain their trust, including waiving consumer checking and savings fees, as well as late fees for consumer and mortgage loan payments,” M&T Bank said in a written statement to News 8. “Customer service phone lines and traffic in branches long ago returned to historically normal levels. We understand the importance of addressing any and all concerns, and we remain committed to continuing to work with all state and city leaders across Connecticut, as well as our regulators, to demonstrate the value that M&T brings to its customers and communities.”
The company said that it has had about 25 meetings with Tong’s office over several months, and has resolved almost every issue he has brought up. It said that of the 400 complaints, only 12 remain open.
It also said that the complaints “should be viewed in the context of more than 600,000 customers” who were included in the merger.
Tong said on Wednesday that an investigation would also allow him to send subpoenas to better understand what’s happening at the bank.
The fall merger was riddled with complaints from consumers — and hundreds of layoffs.