3 On Your Side
3 On Your Side

Valley woman says bank holding money hostage

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A Phoenix mom was stunned to find out that Chase had closed her bank account so that she could not access her money. (Source: 3TV) A Phoenix mom was stunned to find out that Chase had closed her bank account so that she could not access her money. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

For Kathy Stewart, getting into her car and driving around the Valley for 12 hours a day, every day, is pretty routine. 

"It's just an easy way for me to make money," Stewart, an Uber driver told 3 On Your Side.

She says she makes just enough to support herself and her kids. And obviously, the more she drives, the more money she makes.

"Sometimes there are slower nights and it's harder to make that money," she explained. "But, if I need to I'll just work during the day."

Stewart says all of her fares are immediately direct-deposited into her Chase bank account by Uber.

But when she logged on to her bank account recently, she got a strange message from Chase telling her that her account was suspended and closed down. Not only that, she could not access any of her money, roughly $500.

I asked her what that meant to her financially.

"Well, I’m destitute honestly," she said as she teared up. "You got kids, you know, that need things for school."

To make matters worse, Stewart said Chase told her it would mail her a check for her account balance. She says she was told that could take 20 to 30 days.  

Stewart says she feels like her money has been hijacked by Chase, and she's not in the position to wait. 

"You and I talked about this earlier," I told Stewart. "Legally, they (banks) do have the right to close down your account at any time."

"Honestly, Gary, that's fine," she answered. "But give me my money. Right?"

So, 3 On Your Side got involved.

JP Morgan Chase would not discuss the reasons it closed down Stewart’s account, but it did provide a statement.

"We close accounts for a number of reasons, so it is important not to jump to conclusions," according to that statement. "We regularly review transactions and if suspicious activity is detected, we may close an account."

Regardless, at 3 On Your Side's urging, Chase agreed to not mail Kathy her $500 bank balance and instead allowed her to immediately go to a bank branch to get her money.  

This single mom says she's relieved and owes it all to 3 On Your Side for helping her out.

"Through Gary Harper getting involved and with his contacts with Chase, everything moved very quickly," Stewart said. "I was able to go down to the bank to get my money. I couldn’t be more grateful."

Consumers need to know that all financial institutions have the legal right to stop doing business with a consumer or company at their discretion. While banks sometimes provide you with a warning so you can make other arrangements, banks can shut down accounts immediately.

A big thank you to JP Morgan Chase for looking into the matter for me and allowing Stewart to pick up her money.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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