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Concerns about FNBO Direct? Too Good to be True? Don't Worry. It's Legit

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FNBO Direct
The FNBO Direct 6% savings account promotion is so good that some may question the legitimacy of FNBO Direct. You should always remember the adage "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is." After doing my own checks, I can say that I'm confident that they're a division of First National Bank of Omaha which is FDIC insured (FDIC Certificate # 5452). However, they didn't do a good job making it easy for people to verify this.

The problem with websites is that anyone can create a fancy website and say they're affiliated with some bank. One way I confirm that a website belongs to a bank is to check the FDIC database. If you click on the FDIC Certificate # link above, you'll see the FDIC page and the URL www.firstnational.com. This is a good check that the website does belong to the bank that's FDIC insured.

The problem when banks start an online division is that they often create a new domain name (i.e. fnbodirect.com) and this web address isn't listed in the FDIC database. There are a couple of ways banks can handle this. The best way is to do what Apple Bank for Savings did when they began their GrandYieldDirect online savings account. The GrandYieldDirect site uses the same domain name as the bank's main site. They also have their own domain name GrandYieldDirect.com but this points back to under the theapplebank.com domain which is listed at the FDIC page.

Another good way for a bank to handle an online division is to include a link on their main website pointing to the online bank website. This is what Emigrant Savings does with Emigrant Direct. Note how Emigrant Savings includes a link on the home page that points to Emigrant Direct. You can see Emigrant.com listed at this FDIC page.

Seems like many banks don't want to advertise their online division. Perhaps they're afraid that their customers at their brick-and-mortar branches will learn how much better deal they could get if they went online. So there's no link at the main bank's website pointing to the online bank website. Since the FDIC page only has the main bank's website address, there's no easy way to prove the legitimacy of the online bank.

One clever way to prove this link without tiping off the brick-and-mortar customers is the method used by Direct Huntington. The online bank website instructs the customer to enter a code into the "Special Offers" box of the bank's main website. When you enter this code, you're forwarded to the Direct Huntington website. This proves the connection between main bank's website and the online bank website.

The problem with FNBO Direct is the same problem seen at AmTrustDirect. There's no link from the online bank website to the main bank's website that's listed at the FDIC. One way to check out FNBODirect.com is to check the whois info. The information listed does show First National Bank of Omaha as the registrant. However, I have a feeling the domain registrars may not check the information they're given. So for FNBO Direct, it's good to contact First National Bank of Omaha and verify this for yourself. In February, I called and confirmed FNBO Direct was their online division. Today I sent them a message using their email form. They responded with the following:
Please be advised, FNBO Direct is a division of First National Bank of Omaha. The FNBO Direct savings account is FDIC insured.

So now I'm 100% confident in FNBO Direct's legitimacy. It would have been a lot easier if they would have followed the examples of Emigrant, Apple Bank for Savings or Huntington.

For more info on this 6% promotion and FNBO Direct please refer to:

  Tags: FNBO Direct, savings account

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Comments
43 Comments.
Comment #1 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Just want to shout out to Banking Guy for finding out this deal. I'm a college student and before I found this site, I didn't know a thing about personal finance. At least now, I have some clue what's happening.

btw, if you close the account in the middle of a month, do you automatically get the daily interest credited for the part of month your money was already deposited for? Thanks again.

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Comment #2 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
For a brief moment you scared the **** out of me. Seriously.

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Comment #3 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I got a sick empty feeling in my stomach when I saw the headline to this blog entry. I thought, "Oh $hit, I just gave my identity to some online scam."

Thanks for clearing things up and verifying the authenticity of FNBODirect.

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Comment #4 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Thank you so much for all the information concerning FNBODirect. As the previous person said, I got a terrible feeling as I began to read your statement, "if it sounds too good to be true". I kept saying to myself, thank goodness I havent actually mailed the $100K. Actually I was waiting for the complete account# because they e-mailed only the last 4 numbers. Well, now I can continue the process with so much more confidence. Thank you, Thank you, Banking guy.

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Comment #5 by Jay (anonymous) posted on
Jay
also I ran into this problem in signing in...I forgot the banks website...google fnbo...it gave me the bank's link...I put in my id and nothing worked...finally found out that you can not sign in on the banks website you have to go to fnbodirect.com to sign in...also know that they transfer money out of the account you are moving your money from real quick so make sure the money is in...

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Comment #6 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
They're also listed at and being advertised on bankrate.com. Of course that is no guarantee either.

I did find one FNBO Direct job listing on the firstnational site.

Anyway, why doesn't the FDIC site provide a URL search? That plus mandatory registration of domains by banks. I think that would fix the problem.

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Comment #7 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
I didn't want to give anyone a heart attack. So I updated the title to make it less scary :-)

About a bank URL search feature, that's a great idea for the FDIC. Banks would be required to register all of their domain names with the FDIC. That would make it easy for people to confirm a website.

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Comment #8 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Great effort and a detailed writeup. Thanks for doing my homework.

You are the best!

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Comment #9 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Does anyone know if FNBO will allow you to do ACH transfers initiated by another bank? This would allow for quicker transfers with less lost interest?

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Comment #10 by Is It Possible (anonymous) posted on
Is It Possible
I opened an FNBO Acctn the 1st day it was reported here on 1sy May. They successfully did the initial trial verification deposit into my Emigrant Direct on 2nd May. I received and email on 3rd May stating that the initial deposit (not trial deposit) from my EmigrantDirect failed (no reason provided). I called CSR and was told that the only option i have now is to send in a check.

That sucks... :(

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Comment #11 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Here's another way to help verify https://fnbodirect.com is legit. In the Firefox browser right-click when the cursor is on a non-link portion of the page (it's similar in the IE browser). Then select View Page Info. This shows the name of the organization. Unfortunately in this case it just says "fnbo", which actually made me more suspicious since it didn't give the full name of the bank!

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Comment #12 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Is anyone having trouble logging in today? I logged in fine all day yesterday, actually I set up the account yesterday and can't recall ever being asked to answer the security questions. Today they are asking me the security questions, I can't get past the security questions. There are two questions, and one of the questions is one I set up but the other question is not a question I set up. I call the 877-370-3707 and the CSR tried to transfer me to the Online Banking Dept., but the wait time was too long for me. I will try calling back later today. Maybe the wait time is due to others encountering the same problem as me

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Comment #13 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I just posted the logging on issue. The issue was me having too many online accounts, and forgetting my User IDs and passwords. I just got in with the right combinations, and they did not even ask me the security question. Shwoooooo what a relief!!!
Disregard original post

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Comment #14 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Thanks Banking Guy for dealing with the topic of web security. Could you please do an article on wire transfer security.

If I'm not mistaken, consumer protections for ETF-related transfers (e.g. an ACH transfer) are excellent. The consumer seems to be "innocent until proven guilty". But a wire transfer is not covered by this, as crazy as it sounds.

FnboDirect's "Terms and Conditions" says:
----
... our computer will determine that your User ID and Password were used in the online session in which the initial wire transfer request was sent to us. If they were, then we may treat the transfer request as authorized. You are solely responsible for the security of your computer system. Certain transfers made via wire transfer are not subject to the federal Electronic Fund Transfer Act (“Exempt Transfers”).
----

That makes a wire transfer a "Bet-Your-Balance" liability to you if a keylogger has stolen your logon name and password and requested a wire transfer. Zion's Bank is a good example of better protection since wire transfer permission is only established by a signed authorization.

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Comment #15 by Timothy (anonymous) posted on
Timothy
I just got word from FNBO that my account is now usable. I direct linked HSBC for quick moving of the old 6% to the new 6%! Seems easy so far. Gotta wait until next Wed. for the transfer to complete of course.

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Comment #16 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Some more cautious individuals might say that since this internet entity (fnbodirect.com) is not specifically listed on the FDIC website, that it is not technically FDIC insured. It's pretty obvious that "firstnational.com" is not legally the same entity as fnbodirect.com even though we would wish it to be the case. It's comforting to get emails and phone conversations claiming FDIC coverage, but I do wonder if the FDIC would actually cover this internet bank if it did fail. I personally feel that the FDIC record itself is the only certain way to know if there is coverage. I just am not convinced unless they actually listed fnbodirect.com. I work too hard for my money to take such risk for about .5% Hopefully all turns out O'k as the housing bubble is deflating and banks are suffering heavily with subprime losses. We're talking multi-billion dollar bank losses. I get scared of stuff like that.

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Comment #17 by Travis (anonymous) posted on
Travis
I am an FNBO Direct CSR and appreciate the feedback concerning the website and its drawbacks. I do assure all of you that FNBO Direct is a subsidary project of First Naional Bank of Omaha(FNBO) and that we are federally insured. I will pass along the feedback so we can do what we can to ensure the safety of our customers' assets.

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Comment #18 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Does FNBO allow PODs on the savings acct?

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Comment #19 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
FNBO Direct does not allow POD accounts...yet.

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Comment #20 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Emigrant won't honor links to saving accounts like FNBO only checking accounts. I found this out during conference with their rep and HSBC rep after trying to move funds to FNBO thru HSBC. I had to move funds thru Presidential ckg to get them out of Emigrant. Links with other SAVINGS accounts had been estblished with trial deposits to Emigrant, go figure. Countrywide now seems to be limiting linked accounts to one only. I deleted or removed one of three( Emigrant)to add FNBO and was then told by Countrywide that I had to have less than one to add a new one. I had to add Countrywide to FNBO rather than FNBO to Countrywide. Not one instant link took with FNBO had to use trial deposits for most links. Still waiting for FNBO to cash ck from Presidential sent 5/11 to open second FNBO account, Five days and counting.

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Comment #21 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I also found this little tidbit on the FDIC website regarding "virtual" branches such as FNBO:

Some banks maintain "virtual" branches or divisions that allow depositors to open and transact business on deposit accounts over the Internet. Often these "virtual" branches or divisions operate under a different name than the bank uses for its traditional branches, but they are all part of the same bank. In this situation, deposit accounts held at the "virtual" branches or divisions of a bank are aggregated with any deposit accounts a customer may have at the traditional retail branches of the same bank before applying the insurance limit.

This would seem to indicate that FNBODirect deposits are covered by the main bank's deposit insurance.

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Comment #22 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Got an e mail from FNBO they are limiting new deposits after June 18th to 100K. Looks like funds are coming in faster then they expected OR they are encouraging people to deposit more before June 18th.

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Comment #23 by Janice (anonymous) posted on
Janice
How long should I expect to wait after the initial deposit has shown up to be able to transfer additional funds? My account from another band shows up on the transfer screen as an approved account, but there is no way to add the FNBO account to receive the funds. I called customer service and they said my account wasn't completely "set up" and I needed to wait several more days. I've done the trial deposits twice and did the initial $1 transfer, that showed up in the FNBO account last week.....but I can't move any more money in. Is this typical?

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Comment #24 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Janice, I was able to intiate a tranfer at FNBO Direct 3 days after I applied for this account. See this post for more details.

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Comment #25 by Tyson (anonymous) posted on
Tyson
The paragraph below is in their terms & conditions, do you think it's anything to worry about?
It makes me nervous since they require a Social Security Number to open an account.

10. Information Submissions. All information submitted via this web site by a visitor to this web site shall be deemed and remain our property and by sending us such information you: (1) grant us an unrestricted, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable license to use, reproduce, display, perform, modify, transmit and distribute that information; and (2) agree that we are free to use any ideas, expressions of ideas, concepts, know-how, designs, techniques for any purpose whatsoever including, but not limited to developing, manufacturing and marketing products incorporating such information that you send us. We shall not be subject to any obligations of confidentiality regarding such submitted information except as agreed by our entity having the direct customer relationship or as otherwise specifically agreed or required by law. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as limiting or reducing our responsibilities and obligations to customers in accordance with our Privacy Policy posted on our web site.

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Comment #26 by Banking Guy (anonymous) posted on
Banking Guy
Tyson, all banks require social security numbers to open accounts. I have to admit that people need to be careful when they give out their SSNs. That's why I carefully checked to make sure the website is the official bank website as I described in this post.

Banks often include a lot of legal details in their terms. I can't say if this is any different than many of the other bank accounts that I've opened.

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Comment #27 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I just got a reminder email from FNBO direct asking me to fund the account I set up last week...... THIS email refers me to the FNBODirect link and when I logged in with my SS # and "temporary" acount # ,...it tells me I must "NOW" SEND $250,000.00 to satisfy the minumum reqirement to open MY account ( I HAVE TO WONDER if this is because I TOLD them on my online applicatiom that I had an even larger amount to invest ) SOMETHING JUST DOES NOT FEEL RIGHT ABOUT THIS ONLINE BANK>>>TOO MANY RED FLAGS arewaving in my face right now ! .... Like the comment from their CSR about having "a minimum requiremnt of $150,000 as of June 1st " they made to one of the writers on here,....( it sounds like they are saying whatever they need to say to get a deposit sent NOW based on each specific person's situation,...and "that" concerns me........BANKRATE.COM DID have them listed LAST WEEK,...but I checked again today,...3-24 and "NOTHING AT ALL" shows for FNBODIRECT ! ! ! I think it's time to contact the FEDERAL RESERVE BANK and the FBI..and at least ask some questions... so that's MY step...( I would suggest those of you who ALREADY HAVE money invested might want to do the same.

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Comment #28 by Janice (anonymous) posted on
Janice
On the 16th I received an e-mail from FNBO saying my account would be fully functional wihtin 3 days. I still can't use it. They tell me they are having a "programming" problem adding the FNBO accounts to the transfer screen. Which means, I can't move money in. It is starting to make me worry.....are they discouraging deposits? And why?

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Comment #29 by Tyson (anonymous) posted on
Tyson
banking guy,
I try and scan most bank terms. I haven't seen one with the following statement. In number (1) of the terms, it basically says they have an irrevocable license to do whatever they want with your information. Not that they are going to use it badly. But it does mean a lifetime of spam and junkmail that can never be stopped.

I did it anyways, but I just didn't like that.

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Comment #30 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Dont be stupid. They are still listed on bankrate. They are FDIC insured. (I called and verified through First National of Omaha) There is no min deposit requirement. They are no longer allowing deposites over a mil. Thats it. I had no problems with them what so ever.

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Comment #31 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Heres the email sent

ONLINE SAVINGS

Effective June 18, 2007, there will be a $1,000,000 limit on our customers' deposits with us.* See the revised Disclosures for your account here and revised Section 11 of the Deposit Agreement in the Terms & Conditions for further details.

If you already have $1,000,000 or more on deposit, this new limit will not apply to sums deposited prior to June 18, 2007.

You may not deposit more than: (i) $250,000 into your account in any one transaction; or (ii) $250,000 into your account on any one business day. You may not make a deposit that would bring your total principal balance on all your accounts with us to more than $1,000,000. We also reserve the right to refuse or return additional deposits at any time and for any reason (see Section 11 of the Deposit Agreement in the Terms & Conditions for further details).

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Comment #32 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
To the person who had prob's remembering their log-on info..If you have a spreadsheet program, use it. Here's what I do...1st column: Bank name and acct type (svgs/ckg/money market), 2nd column -date opened, 3rd column -acct. number, 4th -bank Ph. No, 5th -user ID, 6th -password, 7th -Bank routing no.(you need this!). Each acct. is color coded across (in rows) so as not to confuse the info as you move (horizontally)across the worksheet. Works for me! Hope this helps.

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Comment #33 by Harsh (anonymous) posted on
Harsh
I have been receiving emails to verify my accounts (from which I've already done fund transfers). So after calling several times, I've found out that they are going back and requesting verifications from all customers to provide a voided check/bank statement and driver's license. This seems like another tactic for them to avoid people transferring money out when in September their promotion expires (or if they are estimating the interest rates to go up, and as other banks start offering better yields).

Either case, it's pain since the deposit verification is not valid by itself now, and I have to reverify my accounts.

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Comment #34 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I found this...which also makes me feel more confident...

First National Bank of Omaha Launches Internet Bank

http://www.banknet360.com/news/NewsAbstract.do?na_id=9035


First National Bank of Omaha has launched an internet bank — FNBO Direct — to compete against large national banks for online savings account.

FNBO Direct’s first product, an online savings account with an introductory annual percentage yield of 6.0%, has no fees or minimum balance.

First National Bank of Omaha is a subsidiary First National Bank of Nebraska Inc., a private banking company based in Omaha, Neb. First National and its affiliates have $16 billion in managed assets

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Comment #35 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I received this email from them yesterday -- which I found VERY disturbing and beyond ridiculous.

It was titled: DUE DILIGENCE.

And THREATENED TO PUT MY FUNDS ON HOLD if I didn't contact them within 30 days!!!!!!!!!!!!

"If this information is not received within 30 days, a hold will be placed on your account(s), restricting all deposits and withdrawals to the account(s)."

(Whole email at end of post).

It reminded me of one of those phony paypal emails. I used the contact # off the site -- not trusting the email -- but it was a legitimate email.

But it creeped me out totally and I doubt I will stay with this bank after the 6% ends.

I called them immediately and the CS rep was wonderful and it was instantly taken care of -- but I told her just HOW THREATENING and fake the email sounded.

I told her it was worded very threateningly and she told me that they'd never really not give people their money...HUH?

That is what the email said they would do -- and I'd love to know where and how they get the "right" to put anyone's money on HOLD??

They accepted my deposit and opened the account months ago -- so WHY are they suddenly sending out this type of BS email I wonder?

All in all -- I am not sure it is worth the hassle even for the great rate.

Part of me is considering giving up September's interest -- and yanking my very considerable account out of there pronto.

I don't like the feel of this bank now after this really offensive email.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"As part of your initial application, we did not receive information regarding your current employer, occupation or position.

In many cases, this is because you have a status of retired, unemployed or self-employed.

We are updating our records as part of our on-going due diligence to be compliant with our standards to support the USA Patriot Act.

Please provide us with your previous employer, occupation and position by sending an email with this information to:

fulfillment@fnbodirect.com.

If this information is not received within 30 days, a hold will be placed on your account(s), restricting all deposits and withdrawals to the account(s).

Your immediate attention to this matter is appreciated.

If you wish to discuss this further, -- please send an email to fulfillment@fnbodirect.com or call 877-370-3707.

Please reference your FNBO Direct account number displayed at the top of this page when you contact us.

Thank you for choosing FNBO Direct for your Online Savings Account."

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Comment #36 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I am worried. I have an account at fnbodirect.com and up until today had no concerns. Today I received an email saying that in my initial application did not show employer info etc. That is because I do not work outside the home. They said due to the Patriot Act, they have placed a HOLD on my account, so I can not withdraw any funds, AND unless they receive this information within 30 days, they may close my account! Does this sound like actions of a legitimate bank to you??

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Comment #37 by Tina Girl (anonymous) posted on
Tina Girl
Problems with FNBO account:

My significant other listed me jointly on an account set up to pay his daughter's college tuition - in case something happens to him, no delay in paying the college bills. He has only had the account for a month or so, and reports that the application process went smoothly.

A week ago, I got a "due diligence" email stating they needed some info about my previous employers to comply with Patriot Act. No problem. I call them up, and get out on hold for an eternity waiting for someone to help. I timed it - after 10 minutes, I hung up.

I figure the email told me I have 30 days to comply, and as I was not sure of the acct #, I waited to get it from my spouse and I also wanted to let him know what was going on. BTW- he is the primary account holder and they did not notify him about the missing info. 7 DAYS later, not 30, we both get emails saying the account is frozen! And it is!

What is totally unacceptable is that current calls to customer service are disconnected! I even tried calling a number I found in Nebraska, and was also disconnected.

Rest assured, as soon as we get it straightened out - we will be pulling every penny out and closing the account - can you imagine not being able to get in touch with a live person to help figuring out what went wrong? Thankfully, the tuition bill is paid for the fall already.

Just a word to the wise - opening the account may be smooth, but FNBO Direct cutomer service is not ready for prime time.

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Comment #38 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I received threatening e-mail today. When you can't call to open an account nor to discuss an active account and you combine the sub prime fallout the financials are experiencing I believe my money is in trouble.

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Comment #39 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
My experience has been terrible so far. For instance beware that if you initiate an ACH resulting in insufficient funds, FNBO features an automatic second attempt within 3 days. If that fails also you are charged the insufficient fund fee $30 TWICE. And this insufficient funds thing was due to unconfirmed cancellation of a transfer. Lesson: print out every transaction confirmation screen.
You need to watch your e-mail like a hawk and call, but the terms of service says you have to cancel 3 days in advance. So that might not help you. Anyway, I am closing the account. I will never do business with them again.

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Comment #40 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Beware their limits on external transaction requires you to wait until a trans meeting their limit is completly processed before you can even schedule another. If you don't they will e mail you saying it is being set up and then the next day they'll e mail you telling you it was canceled because it exceeded their limit. I learned the hard way after four transacton were canceled and I didn't check my e mail every day. So it will take about 3 weeks to pull my money out. Sept 29 is approaching and I'm not waiting for the rate to drop. Their site doesn't show any of the canceled transactions even though it indicates it will.

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Comment #41 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Legit, but not a good idea. I haven't even made it through the setup process, and I'm ready to cancel my account. I made the mistake of transferring my whole savings... the money finally showed up in my FNBO Direct accout a week later, but I still don't have access to it - I can't withraw and won't be able to until I jump through more verification hoops. And they haven't even given me my account number. On the phone they said they couldn't give it to me, so I should wait for my first statement next month. When I say I want to cancel my account, he says "go online and click on 'contact us'"! But I'm on the phone with you now!!!

If you must open an account with FNBO direct, use small $ ammounts at first until you're comfortable with it (and I predict you won't be). At least then you won't be out a large sum of money while you sort it out.

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Comment #42 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
FNBO Direct has problems. Their "security" hoops are bait and switch. They have my account password and username upon signup (which I subsequently changed) and then they send an email requesting a cancelled check to prove its my account?? They said they would/could restrict access to my funds until they got this additional information and then < 3 hours later I get a congratulatory e-mail saying I can access my money. Only problem is I didn't send them any additional information. I seized this opportunity and withdrew my account to $0.00 back to my funding source. The money showed up and I'm weighing my options. A call to customer service reveals they still want the additonal info.; I don't trust a bank with this much confusion. Perhaps the internet job posting for a FNBO Direct fraud prevention manager dated 01/15/2008 is a telling sign of some internal problem. Something needs to change to bring my money back to them. I'd rather put it in Countrywide than deal with this.

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Comment #43 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Horrible bank. My late husband set up the account and asked me to transfer funds before he died.
I sent them the POA prior to his death and subsequent documents needed to access the account after his death.
They lost the documents.
These are the most incompetant people I've ever dealt with.
Go to your local bank so you can face the idiots who are denying you access to your own funds.

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