Our relationships with our banks during the coronavirus pandemic

I have accounts at two banks, CIBC and TD. I’ve been a customer for over 40 years with a personal account and 33 years with a business account at the CIBC and my branch is in Westmount at the corner of Victoria and Sherbooke. I am so familiar with this branch that I have seen several managers come and go and I consider two of the tellers my friends.

My newer bank is TD and the branch I frequent is right near our office. This Monkland branch closed over two weeks ago and to deposit for the business, I’ve learned, on my own, through driving around and trying branches on a hit and miss basis to see if they’re open, that my Monkland manager and staff have moved to the Greene Ave. branch — so we go there twice a week to make deposits. The first time, about 10 days ago, the Monkland manager came out, took the deposit book from Irwin and went back in. He made the deposit and 10 minutes later, brought the book out to Irwin.

This was a welcomed interchange as Irwin did not have to go into the bank. Days later, Irwin did have to go into the bank after waiting in line. I know the situation is evolving and changing ever day but I wonder when we can expect more consistency with perhaps different protocols for businesses and private individuals.

I have no complaints about anything to do with TD. I just wonder why they couldn’t write a short letter to their business clients instructing them on where and how to make deposits.

Now back to CIBC. I got a call from a woman who said she was from CIBC at my home in the late afternoon and she asked me how I was faring given the current state. She had an accent but this is not what threw me off. Lots of people have accents. But then she kept asking me questions until finally asking, “How are you paying your bills?”

Now could that have been a legitimate question? Since no one from CIBC has ever called me with that question, a red flag went up. I told her it was none of her business and quickly hung up, and then realized I should have quizzed her more.

Because I am the publisher of The Senior Times, I figured I owned it to my readers to see if this call was scam or perhaps I should say “confirm” that this call was a scam to get information out of me.

I called the phone no. on the CIBC website and was told that I had to wait (no approximate time line was given) to speak to a “specialist.” I didn’t really need a specialist. I needed a representative to tell me if this was a scam call. I waited over 20 minutes and finally decided to press the no. given and leave a message. The voice said they’d call back in 24 hours. But it took two tries to get this voice message. The first time or two it didn’t work.

I left my name and number and location and added that I was the publisher of The Senior Times. I have not received a call and it’s been four days.

So what’s up with that?

Is this the customer service I would expect from my trusted CLBC bank of over 40 years?

Even in these times, the answer is no. Should I have realized that this call was a scam? Well if I didn’t know and had to call the bank, I’m assuming some of my readers would feel the same. I shudder to think of seniors who are giving away their bank account numbers or other confidential information to scammers on the phone. The bottom line is: DON’T! When in doubt, hang up.

Don’t bother reporting it to your bank. As I experienced, it’s a waste of time. You may not get through and this is unforgiveable even in the current situation.

Stay home, stay safe and stay away from phone scammers. Even if you’re not sure it’s a scam, just hang up. Better safe than sorry.

And to the banks, alert your clients of possible scams and if you have clients who have no Internet, remember they are the most vulnerable so write to them by snail mail or give them a call.

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