Cleveland woman claims bank error has left her checking account frozen for weeks

Woman left with no money to buy food or pay bills

CLEVELAND - Judy Bair, of Cleveland, reports her entire life has been put on hold.

Bair's checking account was compromised back on Nov. 4, allowing a crook to take hundreds of dollars.

As a result, Bair's First Merit checking account has been left frozen for three weeks. Without access to her Social Security funds, it's been difficult for her to do anything.

"I've had no access to anything, none of my bills have been paid for the month," said Bair. "They just don't seem to understand that this fixed income Social Security check that goes in there on the third, that's my only income. It's not like I have another check coming in every week, or every two weeks that I can fall back on."

Bair told  NewsChannel5 she made several phone calls to FirstMerit customer service in an effort to get her badly need funds released, but claimed she was told it could take another two weeks.

Bair explained she hasn't been able to buy food, and her car insurance and PIP heating assistance have been canceled because she couldn't pay the bills.

Bair believes the series of bogus withdrawals were caused by FirstMerit, when she claimed the bank failed to cancel a debit card she reported missing back in July. Bair said FirstMerit Bank verified the crooks were using her old card to purchase hundreds of dollars in fuel and fast food.

"There's been another card issued with the old account numbers, so I have two cards, with two different numbers, one I have no access to, but someone else is using it all over the place," said Bair.

"How are these charges still coming through if you closed the account? That's when they discovered there were two cards, which they told me is impossible. You can't have two cards with two different numbers in the same name on the same checking account, but here it is."

To make matters worse, Bair is being issued insufficient funds charges on her frozen account.

5 On Your Side contacted FirstMerit Bank corporate headquarters about this case, and the company responded immediately.

FirstMerit pledged to conduct a full investigation into the situation in an effort to more quickly release the funds in Bair's checking account.

Meanwhile Bair can only wait and wonder when she'll be able to drive her vehicle, or if her utilities will be shutoff, because she has no funds to pay her bills.

"And the worst part of it is, I have another social security check coming through on the third. My account is still in a negative balance, I can't access that money for next month, until they straighten this out."

NewsChannel5 and newsnet5.com will keep you updated on this developing story.

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