Topic Wiki

1)   What is a Financial Review?
In short - American Express occasionally freezes the credit card accounts of individuals with high-risk patterns, or for new account holders.
They request a lot of personal information, such as IRS tax returns, bank statements, letters from Banks ect…

Let’s break it down into 2 different types of Financial Reviews
A)   Mini Financial Review
B)   Financial Review

A)   Mini Financial Review

(please fill in info) This form of financial review, is usually a short process, it could be as short as one phone call. American Express might feel a need to verify your finances for whatever reason, and they could call you to verify information. Your accounts could be suspended from using until you get in touch with them, typically they will restore your accounts after a simple phone call.

B)   Financial Review
This type of Financial Review is very common. It often happens when opening a new account for the first time, usually if you are opening a Charge Card, or a Business Card or if on a new account you start off will a lot of high spending.
American Express will suspend your account/s, they will not remove the suspension until the review is over, which takes around 2 weeks.

If you cannot provide the required information, shut down your account right away.

2)   Triggers

Look below for a list of triggers and links.
 
3)   What will happen?
Your accounts will get suspended. You will be able to log in online, and see account activity, but you will get a message that charging is suspended.

They will contact you via phone and email. Once you get in touch with them, (typically) you will be assigned a specific representative to work on your case.

The will require mainly IRS Tax returns. The point of a Financial Review is to verify your income. They may also require Back statements, a letter from a Bank to verify your address, and other documents. People have reported that they did survive a Financial Review with just bank statements.

As long as you could provide the documents they request you will be fine, they might lower your credit lines, but you should be able keep your account open. Even as low as a $6000 tax return people have been able to survive a Financial Review.

In cases of a Financial Review after opening a Business Card, you will need proof of Business income.

If you cannot provide the required information, shut down your account right away.

As long as you could provide the documents they request you will be fine, they might lower your credit lines, but you should be able keep your account open. Even as low as a $6000 tax return people have been able to survive a Financial Review.

4)   What Steps Should I take?

Get in touch with Amex as soon as you could. Send in the request inform promptly. You will have a rep that will be working with you, and telling you what documents are needed. 4506-t is a transcript request from the IRS for you last tax return. You will need to fill out this form, fax it to Amex, it will take them 24-48 hours until they receive this form, they will request the tax return from the IRS that could take about a week.

Important: you only have 2 attempts to send them the fax, if they reject it after 2 attempts you will get shut down. You don't get more than 2 attempts. (source)
You may be able to get 3 attempts if you ask for a manager.

You need to be on top of it, if you don’t follow thru, they could shut your accounts down.


5)   What to do if American Express closed your accounts?

Once American Express closes your accounts, the only way to get back on is if you have the required information needed to pass a Financial Review. They will require you to request a 4506 form from the IRS (which will cost you $57) before they even approve any of your future applications.


To start you may want to read up here:

F/R triggers:
[/color]


Credit line of $25k or more
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=1438.msg10906#msg10906

Family member receiving FR can cause other family members to get Fr'ed as well
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=6223.msg74003#msg74003 http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=8.msg24759#msg24759

Living at same address as someone who was FR'ed
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=8.msg77046#msg77046

Using majority of CL
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=7526.msg87716#msg87716

Large cash advance
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=5908.msg82906#msg82906

Nothing...
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=2723.msg30062#msg30062

Changing name on business card
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=3589.msg38101#msg38101

Mint purchases
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=146.msg22932#msg22932

Amex Gift Card Purchases
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=2422.msg26670#msg26670
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=8.msg40106#msg40106

Unusual spending
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=8.msg7627#msg7627
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=3710.msg39597#msg39597

Amazon payments (possibly)
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=3657.msg88656#msg88656
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=3524.msg42436#msg42436

Using close to reported income
http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/2537

Logging in online too much (!)
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=8.msg13741#msg13741

Prepaying
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=1712.msg13732#msg13732
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=3710.msg39725#msg39725

Adding Cardholders (many?)
http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=8.msg49318#msg49318

Refunds exceeding total payments made on the card since it was opened
http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=8.msg845606#msg845606
[/font]
Though not exactly F/R, it's worth mentioning that Amex takes returned payments very seriously.
They often shut all accounts without going through the F/R process.

Author Topic: Amex F/R Master Thread  (Read 981029 times)

Offline bambi

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Re: Amex F/R Master Thread
« Reply #7845 on: February 26, 2018, 01:58:06 PM »
Anybody hear about asking the rep to call you before a bad decision is made (to give you ample time to close the accounts on your own)? Is this regular practice or does it depend on the rep?

Offline BP16

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Re: Amex F/R Master Thread
« Reply #7846 on: February 26, 2018, 02:40:38 PM »
Anybody hear about asking the rep to call you before a bad decision is made (to give you ample time to close the accounts on your own)? Is this regular practice or does it depend on the rep?
They usually call you before they close it. or you could call every few days if they have an update.

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Re: Amex F/R Master Thread
« Reply #7847 on: February 26, 2018, 02:44:19 PM »
They usually call you before they close it. or you could call every few days if they have an update.
That's normal procedure, but @Yehuda25 reported upthread he had differently
(Quit) pulling out the flowers, and watering the weeds. -Peter Lynch

Offline BP16

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Re: Amex F/R Master Thread
« Reply #7848 on: February 26, 2018, 04:57:45 PM »
That's normal procedure, but @Yehuda25 reported upthread he had differently
Thats why I also said he should call every few days

Offline Mr. CC

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Re: Amex F/R Master Thread
« Reply #7849 on: February 26, 2018, 11:49:45 PM »
My memory suggests that there's something upthread about that if you fail the F/R then they anyway change it to closed by creditor.
If you don't send in the documents, then it could stay as closed by consumer.

Offline bambi

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Re: Amex F/R Master Thread
« Reply #7850 on: February 27, 2018, 10:09:40 AM »
My memory suggests that there's something upthread about that if you fail the F/R then they anyway change it to closed by creditor.
If you don't send in the documents, then it could stay as closed by consumer.
Can anyone confirm this?

Offline Yehuda25

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Re: Amex F/R Master Thread
« Reply #7851 on: February 28, 2018, 03:05:38 PM »
Can anyone confirm this?
it's incorrect. If you close it first, its closed.
“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”


― Aristotle

Offline Yhgfkj

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Re: Amex F/R Master Thread
« Reply #7852 on: February 28, 2018, 04:47:13 PM »
My memory suggests that there's something upthread about that if you fail the F/R then they anyway change it to closed by creditor.
If you don't send in the documents, then it could stay as closed by consumer.
I hade it one time after I closed it  they reopened it and they closed it back . but that's not the normal,

Offline Yehuda25

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Re: Amex F/R Master Thread
« Reply #7853 on: February 28, 2018, 05:14:00 PM »
forsure 30 days to transfer the points out right?
“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”


― Aristotle

Offline Mr. CC

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Re: Amex F/R Master Thread
« Reply #7854 on: March 05, 2018, 08:10:36 AM »
I hade it one time after I closed it  they reopened it and they closed it back . but that's not the normal,
how many times were you closed down by f/r?
Your writing a dp saying that you only had it one time

Offline MasterAmex

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Re: Amex F/R Master Thread
« Reply #7855 on: March 05, 2018, 11:51:57 AM »
forsure 30 days to transfer the points out right?
not necessarily,
dont know exactly when you do have 30 days and when not, but heard of some DPs that they didn't get 30 days.
to be on safe, transfer it out as soon you get FRed

Offline MasterAmex

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Re: Amex F/R Master Thread
« Reply #7856 on: March 05, 2018, 11:58:32 AM »
not necessarily,
dont know exactly when you do have 30 days and when not, but heard of some DPs that they didn't get 30 days.
to be on safe, transfer it out as soon you get FRed

4. FOR CANCELING YOUR ACCOUNT
If we cancel your Linked Card Account for any of the following reasons, you’ll forfeit all points in your program account except as noted:

If we cancel your Linked Card Account due to inactivity, you have 90 days to use points in your program account before they are forfeited.
If we cancel your Linked Card Account in the event of your death, your executor or personal representative may request to use the points in your program account in a one-time redemption by calling us.
If we cancel your Linked Card Account by accident, points in your program account will not be forfeited.
If we cancel your Linked Card Account for any other reason (including bankruptcy or insolvency), you’ll forfeit all points in your program account.

If you voluntarily cancel your enrollment in the program (or if you are an Additional Business Card Member with your own separate program account and the Basic Business Card Member voluntarily cancels his/her enrollment in the program), but you keep at least one American Express® Card open and is not past due or canceled, you'll have up to 30 days from the date of cancellation to use any points in your program account.

If you voluntarily cancel your enrollment in the program (or if you are an Additional Business Card Member with your own separate program account and the Basic Business Card Member voluntarily cancels his/her enrollment in the program) and you don't keep open any American Express Cards, all points in your program account will be immediately forfeited.

Offline aaa1

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Re: Amex F/R Master Thread
« Reply #7857 on: March 11, 2018, 09:29:35 PM »
I have two personal cards and one business card all open for at least four years. Got fr’d couple of days ago. I prob would be able to pass on the personal but not on the business if they’re asking for proof of business income etc. if I close the business card and send in docs for personal cards will they still shut down personal accounts for not being able to verify business account?

Offline Yehuda25

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Re: Amex F/R Master Thread
« Reply #7858 on: March 13, 2018, 11:30:28 PM »
Found this very interesting from FT, so true on so many levels...

This is written to assist those who need:
- American Express financial review help (Amex FR help as some might say)
- to understand what happens during the Amex financial review process
- to think about how to respond to a cancellation of accounts by Amex as a result of a financial review, and if need be, how to appeal that decision
- to decide if Amex is a reliable partner for their financial affairs and if it is safe to have Amex be the provider of the bulk of your credit

An open letter to Amex which will also be sent to customer service, the Corporate offices, Costco, and legal advisors:

(not that they much care I expect, EXCEPT for that last little item)

I have been a customer of American Express since about 1999. I just finished a nearly 2 month process of 'financial review' with you, which ultimately I suppose I 'passed' since my accounts are now restored and unfrozen, but I want to let you know that this has fundamentally impacted our business relationship, and that I think your process is severely and obviously broken. I must say that given the hundreds / thousands of on-line posts I see about this 'review process,' posts that are unique to American Express and the highly negative experiences of others, I think your process is causing you a lot of problems, and has been and will continue to cost you many of your high dollar value clients. I would be very curious to see how many customers you have lost that truly are financially qualified, and in fact even pass your 'review.'

I stress to you that I 'passed' your process, that although I did have my account initially revoked that after making an appeal to the American Express financial review team my appeal was granted and all of my accounts are back up, and that I do of course understand the need to 'verify' income and the like. So this is not a sour-grapes letter over being canceled or thinking it unreasonable that you follow up on your need to verify income etc., but rather a sour-grapes letter over very poor treatment by a company that I have relied on and allowed to become integral to my financial transactions. I suspect as you get many many complaints about this process that you make the mistake of conflating those who are upset about an abusive and unnecessarily extreme process with those who (wrongly) think you have no right to conduct a review and assure yourself of the creditworthiness of your borrowers, as I can't think of any other reason that you would receive so many vociferous complaints, and yet refuse to make significant change. In truth, I believe it is quite possible for you to accomplish your goals of verifying income and ability to pay while still treating customers with more dignity than you currently do and enacting your policy in a less extreme fashion, which would of course better preserve your customer relations. If many of even the customers who 'pass' your review don't want to work with you any more, might it not be a good idea to rethink your current process a little?

By way of fyi, in the two months (late May) since my accounts were suspended, I have successfully upgraded my 'status' at two other financial services companies who indicate they very much want to do substantial business with me. I have canceled all of my automatic transactions that channeled to my Amex cards (what choice did I have with your 'total account freeze policy'?), and of course won't be sending any of those back your way.

I think it is interesting that both other companies that I spoke with in efforts to replace my lost credit were well aware of this Amex issue and your financial reviews as they are conducted, and both at the supervisor level indicated that they have picked up many high dollar customers from Amex over the last several years, including many customers that had 'passed' their financial review and been fully reinstated. One also indicated a product targeted at high dollar value customers and as such at disaffected Amex customers, the Merrill Lynch card, which I personally find quite persuasive, and have already posted a good 100k to that card in the last month or so. I believe it to be a product with comparable benefits to the Amex cards I am now shuning, specifically the Platinum Membership Rewards product.

As background, I am CEO of a small company with about $2.5 million in revenue, modest profits, and have a personal income of about $150k.

I charge several hundred thousand dollars per year total on my cards, and in the past I have primarily used Amex card products for those charges. My charges have been sufficient that I have twice been invited to become a 'black card' member in the last few years, and in fact have done more than enough charges on all of my combined Amex cards for the last several years running to warrant 'black card' membership.

My business has about 60% of our revenue by charge card, and I'm told Amex has been (although this is a guess) about half or more of that total. So, between $500k and $750k in charges annually, and growing, for annual fees to Amex of roughly $15,000 to $30,000.

In the coming months I will be canceling most of my personal and business Amex accounts, and in September will be dropping Amex as a card we accept as a vendor. I would do it now, but as a seasonal summer business, I don't have time to tackle this at the moment, but rest assured it is coming.

Here is what happened (and didn't) that so upsets me, after roughly 10 years of happy association with American Express.

First, what triggered the review, I was told by the initial reviewing agent, was about $50k of wine purchases on an SPG card at Costco. Now first of all, I am writing to Costco to detail the absurd treatment I received and to request that they reconsider their 'exclusive' partnership with Amex. I cannot be the only high dollar client to have had this happen, and I think it should be of interest and concern to Costco that their highest dollar value clients are treated in this way by Amex, and more importantly that high dollar purchases at Costco, as your agents told me and my case proves, actually trigger this extremely aggressive and unpleasant review.

Please be aware that even as I made thse $50k in charges, as you could see by reviewing my accounts, I paid down the balances EVEN BEFORE THE BILLING CYCLE CLOSED. I believe that I had paid down 50% or more of these charges before the close of billing. So why this would warrant an abusive review as I was subjected to is beyond reason to me. I do understand that if you see customers charging large sums you must be concerned that they might max out their cards and flee or at least become very overextended, which I assume is rare, but does happen: BUT, has any customer steadily paying down their balance EVEN BEFORE THE BILLING CYCLE CLOSES been that sort of customer? I would guess that this factor of paying as the charges are made would reduce to virtually zero the odds you are dealing with a customer in deep trouble. The simplicity and absoluteness of your model for this review defies reason. Why is length of time as a customer of good standing not even a factor in this review, and how does that make sound business sense?

Regardless, investing in wine is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, AND IT IS NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS what I am purchasing or why. Yes, you have a right to know I can cover my charges, but that was truly not at issue since I was paying these charges as I made them. While I did explain my reason for the purchases to your 'review' person, on reflection, this particular inquiry seems like a fairly severe invasion of my privacy and very unnecessary, unless the charges are outside of my ability to pay. Given the steady payment I made on these charges right after they were made, and my history of several hundred thousand dollars a year in charges, I don't understand why this would be such an outlandish purchase as to warrant the experience of review to which I was subjected.

Second, even though with 7 accounts over 10 years or so I have never had even a single 30 days late payment, my accounts were ALL SUMMARILY FROZEN. Now I can understand why risk management might say, 'let's take a customer temporarily down from $125k to $25 or $50k' to minimize risk while such a review is conducted, but in what world does it make sense to take your highest dollar value customers and ENTIRELY freeze ALL of their accounts for what ended up being 2 months? How can a customer view YOU as anything but an unreliable financial partner after such treatment?

This single fix, reducing outstanding credit temporarily by even 80% or even 90% rather than 'freezing' accounts outright, would obviously drastically limit your downside, while allowing customers to continue to make automatic payments, to continue to use their cards to some degree at exclusive vendors and the like, would continue to keep a relationship of some sort with long and loyal customers, and would I think largely solve what is an absurd execution of policy by your financial review team, an execution which to me all evidence indicates is costing you many of your best customers. I would guess that if during review you reduced customers to 20% of credit allocation on a temporary basis, and even on those who 'failed' for lack of adequate documentaiton if you similarly just reduced credit to this degree rather than cancelled people outright, you would dramatically improve your customer relations.

I have read in the financial publications that given your financial difficulties you have 'accelerated' the aggressiveness of your review process, presumably b/c of credit implosions you have experienced; but how does it make sense to alienate your best historical customers and effectively throw out the baby with the bathwater? It sounds as though you are now purposefully targeting your highest dollar customers. From a risk reduction perspective that makes some sense, but given how aggressive and alienating the process is, it is also a first class ticket to hemorrhaging many of your best customers, the one's who CAN pay their bills. It seems to me that as it is being conducted, you will slowly cull AWAY from Amex many of your most credit worthy customers, and instead keep many lower dollar value customers who have a small total volume of credit and charges with you, and therefore effectively fly below the radar.

Third, even though I had a certified mail receipt proving that I had turned in my tax returns, the IRS had not processed those returns, and when that was discovered, all of my accounts were summarily canceled! Now why wouldn't an 80% to 90% reduction in credit, for example, have sufficed to limit your liability sufficiently given a customer who pays most accounts in full each month, and in fact was prepaying balances even before the cycle ended?

Why would your offices not be empowered to look at my proof that I had submitted my returns? The IRS itself accepted my proof, was willing to write a letter stating they had received but failed to process my return, was willing to validate a return and provide you a copy through the taxpayer advocate's office, and agreed to expedite the posting of the returns; but Amex's financial review team would not consider ANY of my additional proof, even after a number of calls and talks with agents and supervisors, nor accept any of these alternative communications from the IRS!

Why is it even reasonable to think that it is a problem that I may not have submitted my 2007 return, when I was and am still within the window for an extension of time to file without penalty even by the IRS's own standards and policy?

Why would other forms of proof, such as bank balances for myself and my business, my bank account statements, and my W-2 forms, not be acceptable alternatives in this situation, which was no fault of my own? For the record, I offered all of these to your offices.

Fourth, how is it reasonable that Amex 'takes' / forfeits my Membership Rewards points in this case? I feel that is obviously unreasonable, and I am so outraged by that that in fact since two of my former students are now class action attorneys, I am informing you that I will be reviewing the matter with them and hope they find this set of facts to be of interest. I have been told by your agents that I will not get my points reinstated, even though my accounts have been restored, unless I submit a special plea and written request. Well, that is simply outrageous, and warrants a common two word expletive as a response. I notice that Amex has not done well on class action suits, and this one seems to me a doozie, and very just and justified; I certainly think any jury would have strong biases, as they should, that such a policy is completely unreasonable and abusive and should be punished.

Finally, once my returns were registered with the IRS, I appealed. The agent I spoke with felt my case was as clear a case for reinstatement, he said, as he had ever seen, but nonetheless it had to go through two levels of management review, which took ANOTHER 3 weeks! How is that reasonable or wise? It seems that the implicit goal with this review is to alienate your best customers as completely as possible, at least as it is currently carried out. Well, congratulations, if your goal is total alienation you've now succeeded with me.

So even though all of my income matched my claims, my business revenue I believe exceeded it, and I have nearly 10 years of successful credit management with you (even paying down all of my accounts the day that you closed them, just fyi), this is how I was treated. The file will reflect that I was courteous and reasonable with your agents and representatives at all times.

I have often felt that Amex has had the best customer service; I cannot say the same for your financial review process or how I now feel about your company. I run a seasonal business, with the bulk of my charges coming in the summer months, so the summary initial freezing of my credit cost me substantial problems and difficulty, was done without warning, and in my view, was unnecessary for the many reasons that I have detailed for you. I have come to rely on Amex as a solid, responsible partner for my business charges and affairs. Of course, that is no longer the case, and I feel I can no longer trust Amex with anything more than incidental business for me or for my company. So, as a customer, I have my own 'financial stability' and 'partnership stability' review process, and American Express has failed those.

Sincerely,

Modestexpert
“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”


― Aristotle

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Re: Amex F/R Master Thread
« Reply #7859 on: March 13, 2018, 11:39:40 PM »
Wow. Great letter. Unfortunately still very applicable today....