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Help! My bank account is frozen

Here's how to fix it — and stop it from happening again.

Banks can freeze your account for a number of reasons, but the most common one is suspected fraud. And if it happens while you’re overseas, it could put you in a tough situation. In any case, you’ll need to contact your bank and prove your identity in order to get your account unlocked.

How to unfreeze your account

Whether you’re on home soil or overseas, you’ll need to contact your bank as soon as possible if you need to unfreeze or unlock your bank account. Most banks will require you to call in to verify your identity — you probably won’t be able to log in online to fix the problem. If possible, use Wi-Fi calling or a landline to avoid international roaming charges from your cell phone company.

What to do if your Chase account is locked

Dial 1–800–935–9935 if you’re in the US or 1–713–262–3300 if you’re outside the country and follow the prompts to speak to an operator. As of May 2019, the fastest way to talk to an agent is to enter your debit card and PIN numbers or account number and password and then press 0.

If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, dial 1-800-242-7383 to reach support by TTY/TDD.

Chase recommends that you call them first, so that they can check your account. Depending on the reason for your account freeze, they might require you to visit a branch to verify your identity.

If you’re unable to make a phone call, log in to your account and send a message to a representative through the Secure Message Center.

What to do if your Bank of America account is locked

Call Bank of America’s domestic line at 800-432-1000 or the international line at 1-315-724-4022. Follow the prompts to speak with a customer service agent and verify your identity to unlock your account. For TTY/TTD, call 1-800-288-4408.

What to do if your Wells Fargo account is locked

If you’re in the US, call 1-800-869-3557. Otherwise, use the Wells Fargo international chart to find the phone number according to the country you’re in. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, call 1-800-877-4833 for TTY/TTD.

What to do if your Citi account is locked

Call 1-800-374-9700 if you’re in the US or 1-888-248-4226 if you’re not. Speak with a customer service representative to verify your identity and unlock your account. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, call 1-800-945-0258 for TTY/TTD.

What to do if your account from another bank is frozen

Check the back of your credit or debit card to see if there’s a number listed that you can call. If you’re outside the US and an international number is available, call that one. If it’s not specified, call whatever customer service number is printed on the back of the card.

If there’s no number listed, check our list of common bank phone numbers or look for contact information on your bank’s website.

If you can’t find a number or you’re unable to make calls, you can try contacting your bank through email or a secure message center from within the bank’s app.

Why is my account frozen?

Banks need to be more vigilant than ever to protect their customers against fraud. As part of this protection, banks have systems in place to monitor customer accounts for any suspicious activity.

In the US

Cashing bad checks, making unusual purchases or large deposits and having inaccurate personal information can lead to your account being flagged. Banks also look out for small purchases that are immediately followed by large ones, as thieves often use small purchases to test an account before buying what they want.

Overseas

When your credit or debit card is used to make a purchase in a different country without warning, it can be a sign that it was stolen. To protect your account, your bank may freeze it until you can verify your identity and that the card is in your possession.

How can I prevent my account from being frozen?

Banks are always on the lookout for suspicious activity, so you should take precautions to avoid having your account frozen by accident.

At home

Avoid making unusually large deposits or purchases, make sure all checks you cash are legitimate and keep your personal information up to date.

Additionally, try not to stray too far from your usual spending habits; if you usually spend $10-$20 per day on your debit card, suddenly buying luxury items or shopping in expensive stores could raise suspicion.

While traveling

To keep your account from being flagged for potential fraud while traveling, let your bank know where and when you plan to travel before you leave. You can do this by calling your bank, visiting a branch or using the online platform or mobile app.

You can also provide details of the best way for the bank to get in touch with you while overseas. You can log back into Internet banking at any time, even if you’re already overseas, to make changes to your travel plans.

Tips for accessing money while traveling

Whether you’re going on an upstate road trip or taking a vacation overseas, here’s how you can easily and affordably access money while traveling:

  • Watch out for fees. Find out what your bank charges for foreign transaction and ATM fees. If you travel often, consider getting a travel-friendly credit card.
  • Consider a travel money card. A prepaid travel card can help you save money and avoid bringing your debit card. Look for a card that allows you to take advantage of the best exchange rate and also avoid any unnecessary fees.
  • Use cash and cards. Take a combination of cash and cards with you so you can pay for all your purchases. There are some situations overseas where cash will be the only payment option, while cards add extra flexibility and security.
  • Don’t exchange currency at the airport. Airport foreign exchange companies tend to offer poor exchange rates. You’ll get a better deal if you purchase your foreign currency in advance or even when you arrive at your destination.
  • Check card expiration dates. You don’t want to get halfway around the world only to discover that your credit or debit card is about to expire.

Bottom line

If your account is frozen for any reason, you should immediately call your bank to speak to a customer service representative. In most cases, you’ll be able to verify your identity and get your card unlocked almost instantly. And if you’re not happy with the customer service you’re getting, compare other bank accounts so that you don’t have to deal with this next time.

Frequently asked questions

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