Connecticut Attorney General William Tong received more than 400 complaints following M&T Bank’s People’s United takeover last year, and he’s now vying for more power to investigate those complaints.
Tong gave testimony last week on a bill that would empower the Office of the Attorney General to seek records related to these complaints, which include large sums of money disappearing from accounts, to determine if the allegations constitute federal legal violations, and if they do, to pursue recourse for the consumers.
House Bill 6681 would enable his office to enforce key provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and would give his office the power to enforce Dodd-Frank protections against banks chartered in other states, including M&T, which is headquartered and regulated in New York.
“The frustration so many elected officials heard from our constituents following the takeover of People’s United Bank by M&T Bank last fall provides a clear illustration of the regulatory gap this proposal seeks to fill,” Tong said.
Tong detailed a variety of complaints in his testimony.
Many, he said, were from individuals who reported being unable to manage their loved one’s money, despite having the power of attorney to do so, because M&T cut off their account access.
“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,” he said. “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 the highest fees.”
Additionally, some customers were late to pay their bills because M&T shifted their automatic payment dates without notice; and others complained 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 has been vocal about the issues around M&T’s acquisition of People’s United since September, when he called on the bank to resolve its hiccups, accusing the bank then of a “serious lack of preparation” following reports that the transition left many customers unable to access their online accounts.
According to an M&T spokesperson, the bank 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."
"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 spokesperson said.