By COLlive reporter
Chase Bank said “it’s over between us,” but one Brooklyn business owner is saying “not so fast.”
Brooklyn resident Yosef Shidler has filed a lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase Bank at the New York City Small Claims Court for abruptly closing the account for his business, CJ Studios / CoolJew Studios Inc. The bank closed it without giving a reason, and without warning, Shidler says.
In addition to demanding they reopen his account, the video producer is asking for $5,000 (the maximum amount allowed in small claims court without an attorney) because the bank “terminated its relationship with CJ Studios and in the process it has withheld money in a large sum…”
He says the action and freezing of his assets, which he discovered on Saturday night, February 14, has caused him loss of time and will affect the operation of his business. “Chase claims they will return the funds in 10 business days, during which we cannot operate,” the suit says.
COLlive’s request for comment from Erich Timmerman, Head of Media Relations at Chase, has remained unanswered as of Tuesday night. A Chase representative at the bank’s corporate office said she was not aware of the case.
Since the day he found his account closed, Shidler has discovered that he is not the only victim of Chase’s account policies. Over 100 complaints were made in the last year on the website ComplaintsBoard.com and DansDeals.com about Chase closing accounts without warning or reasons given for the action.
Shidler, who also has a personal account with Chase which remains open, says he wouldn’t have opened a business account at the Chase Empire Boulevard Branch at 1000 Nostrand Avenue, had he done research.
“I have a huge list of people who told me Chase has done this to them as well,” Shidler told COLlive.com. “If I had been more educated, I wouldn’t have opened an account there. They are notorious about doing such things.”
A resident of the Crown Heights neighborhood, Shidler says, “I won’t be able to live through the next few days without my credit cards. They froze everything. It’s a scary thought.”
Shidler is concerned about other local businesses and residents who may face the same fate, noting that his business has not engaged in what banks would deem “risky behivor, like large cash deposits, excessive credit card points, or other known behaviors that banks flag. We were simply using the bank as we should to run a business,” he says. “If they can do this to us, who knows who will be next? This is where probably 50% of Crown Heights has their money.”
Following the text messages and comments on social media of people saying they went through the same experience, Shidler opened a Facebook page titled Chase Closed My Account and is trying to bring the case to the public’s attention.
AUDIO: Chase bank manager informing of an account closure
Update, Wednesday 11:45 am:
A representative from Chase Bank has contacted Shidler and said they “made a mistake” in closing the account.
Shidler is relieved that his account has been reopened, but says the lawsuit will remain in place.
“If they think that as soon as something gets media attention then they will answer their customers…that’s not enough,” Shidler told COLlive after receiving the phone call. “What about all the people who didn’t get their accounts back? I’m suing for them. The bank needs to know that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.”