You don't want to verify the validity of a check from a Bank of America account unless you want to risk spending the night in jail. Just ask Matthew Shinnick. While the Supreme Court has ruled in the past that there is no liability for reporting suspected crimes, I think there should be a point where the line is drawn. My question is why did they jump the gun? I think there is a point where you should have some liability. They could have gotten the whole story without forcing Mr. Shinnick to spend the night in jail and spending thousands of dollars just to clear his name. And I think they should pay for the legal costs on moral grounds even though they may not be legally liable. Clark Howard has taken up his cause. Go to his site to see what you can do to help. So far Clark's listeners have withdrawn over $22 million from BOA accounts.
Here is an except of the story from Clark's site. How the Bank of America blunder went down:
By now, you've probably heard the story of the San Francisco man who was arrested and jailed when he tried to verify the validity of a check at Bank of America branch. Clark found out about this story and talked with the man, Matthew Shinnick, who has spent about $14,000 in legal fees to clear his name. It all started when Shinnick posted two bicycles for sale on Craigslist and received a check from a man for more than the cost of the bicycles. He went into his bank to see if the check was legitimate and verify that there was money in the person's account. He was told it was a valid account and so he cashed the check. At that point, BOA employees called the police and Shinnick was arrested on fraud charges because the check was actually a phony. He had no idea that the real criminal had used the name of a legitimate company to fake a check. So, Matthew sat in the bank branch for hours while police figured out what to do and then spent the night in jail. Once he got out, he wanted to clear his name legally so the arrest would not come back to haunt him. He had to hire attorneys to do this and it cost him nearly $14,000. He then went to Bank of America and asked that the bank cover his fees because it was the bank's error. But so far BOA has refused. This kind of treatment sends the message that banks only care about their bottom line and nothing about their customers. It's unacceptable and it's time to fight back.