Bizarre Banking Business

Is Citibank the only one that doesn’t have its act together in Brazil? I thought the most annoying obstacle is when I go to withdraw money at the teller and they cannot tell me my balance, or anything else interesting or useful about the account, because that’s a whole other department. But I was wrong.

Yesterday, we noticed a rather large check had been cashed in our account. The check was out of order with the ones I had been using recently using (not surprising because we rarely write checks). So I made a note to dig through our safe and see if there had been any note associated with that check number… but I couldn’t get to it until later in the afternoon.

Coincidentally, an hour later, Citibank called my husband about that very check. The agent stated that they were alerted because the signature didn’t match. My husband asked the obvious to try to get to an answer. Who was the check made out to? The agent couldn’t tell him. Which of our signatures is on the check? The agent couldn’t tell him. Not that the agent wouldn’t give him this critical information, she actually made the phone call without having access to it. The information was in a different department.

Of course, because neither of us recalled writing the check and because Citibank was concerned, forced to go in blind my husband had them cancel the payment. Later that afternoon, I was able to investigate, only to find that my husband DID write the check for some service done on our apartment. The reason we didn’t remember is because it had got written awhile ago (and again we rarely write checks) but the check floated around Citibank for awhile, got drawn from our account a couple days ago, and then somebody at Citibank got worried that the signatures might not match and decided to call and freak us out – without having any of the important information about the check.

Am I out of line to state that whoever is managing Citibank Brasil is a dumb ass?

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9 Responses to Bizarre Banking Business

  1. Andrew Francis says:

    I don’t know if things have changed lately but not too long ago, checks were routinely used as an alternative form of currency. If you handed a check to someone, that person might use it to pay a third person and so. The exact amount didn’t matter so long as the next person had a larger payment to make. That would carry on for a bit and you would only notice because it would take ages for the money to be drawn out of your account. The way to avoid that was to ensure you always wrote a payee’s name and “double-crossed” it (so that it couldn’t be cashed out).

    • OH! I always wondered why people tell me to do that! Hmmm… perhaps that happened in this case. Wow. So, even if the check wasn’t written out to you, you could cash it??

      • Jenner Cruz says:

        A double crossed check can’t be cashed, but it can be deposited into someone’s account.
        Any check can be passed to a third party, even a nominal check, unless you write “não transferível” on it.
        To pass a nominal check to a third party, the first recipient just have to sign his name on its back. Unfortunately, the law does not require the bank to verify the authenticity of the back signature. So, in practical terms, anyone can circumvent a nominal check.
        You can read the check law at

        • We can do that too in the US. If a recipient signs his or her name on the back of the check, it is as good as cash. I don’t know how many times banks let you do that thought (on one check).

          • Jenner Cruz says:

            There is an international convention for checks and the Brazilian law is just a translation from that convention. Just one signature is enough to pass the check as many times as its holders want. I personally wrote many check processing software applications in the 90s for some banks, including Citibank.

  2. Ray says:

    Ha, abso freaking lutely not! You are not out of line, and I speak from experience… you’ve seen my resume my friend… 😉

  3. I once *had* to have a Citi account because of my employer. I was curious at what it was like in a “world class” bank – what a disappointment! Worst bank service I’ve ever had.

    • The worst. I have a business banking account at Itau now, which is right across the street from Citi. While my experience has been limited so far, they have more than one cash machine in their lobby, in fact they have 10, so already they are way ahead in my book.

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