By Cato Hodiernus
I’ve been a customer of Bank of America for over three decades. Over the years, I’ve had various checking, savings, trust, and investment accounts with them, as well as loans, lines of credit, and similar vehicles for me and various businesses I have started.
Like many of you, I was dismayed by Bank of America’s eager participation in Operation Choke Point, as well as its “woke” positions on various current issues. While that (as well as BofA’s gradual elimination of what used to be known as “Executive and Professional” banking services) led me over the years to move some of my business to other institutions, simple inertia left me and my businesses continuing to have various accounts and lines of credit with BofA.
Today, I am closing as many of my Bank of America accounts as I can (closing others will take a little time, as doing so requires various corporate resolutions), and I will begin transitioning all of my investment accounts with BofA subsidiary Merrill Lynch to another broker.
What overcame my inertia and prompts me to exhort you to do likewise is a truly shocking and blood-boiling report by Tucker Carlson.
In the days after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, Bank of America went through its own customers’ financial and transaction records. These were the private records of Americans who had committed no crime; people who, as far as we know, had absolutely nothing to do with what happened at the Capitol. But at the request of federal investigators, Bank of America searched its databases looking for people who fit a specific profile.
Here’s what that profile was: “1. Customers confirmed as transacting, either through bank account debit card or credit card purchases in Washington, D.C. between 1/5 and 1/6. 2. Purchases made for Hotel/Airbnb RSVPs in DC, VA, and MD after 1/6. 3. Any purchase of weapons or at a weapons-related merchant between 1/7 and their upcoming suspected stay in D.C. area around Inauguration Day. 4. Airline related purchases since 1/6.”
The first thing you should notice about that profile is that it’s remarkably broad. Any purchases of anything in Washington, D.C.; any overnight stay anywhere in an area spanning three jurisdictions and hundreds of miles; any purchase not just of legal firearms, but anything bought from a “weapons-related merchant,” T-shirts included; and any airline-related purchases — not just flights to Washington, but flights to anywhere, from Omaha to Thailand. That is an absurdly wide net.
Bank of America doesn’t deny the accuracy of Carlson’s report. So to recap, without any customer authorization or notification, without any warrant or other legal process, and without any indication that its customers were engaged in any criminal activity, America’s second largest bank gleefully disregarded its customers’ privacy and operated like an arm of the Stasi.
As noted in Carlson’s report, BofA’s actions likely violated a host of laws and regulations, to say nothing of its deposit and credit card agreements with its customers. Typically, getting any sort of transaction information from a bank requires a subpoena and, except certain narrow exceptions, notice to the customer.
But while I will not be surprised to see BofA hammered with class action lawsuits over this, its cavalier willingness to disregard longstanding and expected banking practices should send chills down every American’s spine.
What’s next? Acceding to a request from various politicians to identify all BoA customers who have bought anything from an FFL? Customers of Brownells, Palmetto State Armory, Numrich, etc.? Contributors to NRA, GOA, FPC?
By its actions, Bank of America has now made it plain that it is more than willing to let its political leanings trump your rights and expectations as a customer. It’s clear that you do business with them at your literal peril.
If you’ve already ceased doing business with Bank of America, good for you. If not, take the time to find a good local bank or credit union and get out now.