Bank of America flatly denied Wednesday online reports that it was blocking the use of its credit and debit cards for gun and ammunition purchases.
In audio posted on YouTube Wednesday morning, bank customer Freda Stemick is heard asking about “a rumor … that Bank of America is stopping purchases made with the cards — Bank of America cards — on ammo and gun sales.”
“Is that correct?” she asks?
“Correct, Ma’am,” the call-center employee replies. He identifies himself as “Jose.”
A still image of Stemick’s telephone receiver is seen on the screen throughout her four-minute phone call. The original YouTube video is now marked “private,” but another YouTube user made a duplicate copy.
Betty Riess, a Bank of America spokeswoman, told The Daily Caller Wednesday afternoon that Stemick was given incorrect information.
“That’s not accurate,” Riess said.
In a followup email statement, Riess said that “Bank of America credit and debit cards can be used when presented at retail locations where major credit cards are accepted. Recent information to the contrary is inaccurate.”
In a second phone call to Bank of America posted on her YouTube channel Wednesday afternoon, Stemick reached two different employees who said the company does not discriminate against gun buyers with its debit card program. Neither, however, addressed the company’s credit cards.
“I have not been made aware of any type of — that type of situation or any type of limitation as to what customers are able to do or not do with their debit cards,” said the first employee, identified as Sergio.
“No reference has been made to declining or preventing customers from using their debit cards for any type of specific purchases,” he explained.
A supervisor who identified himself as Andrew took over the call, but also directed his comments only toward Stemick’s concern about her debit card.
“As far as any debit card restrictions, or rather, like, transactions that we’re not allowing or anything like that, I mean certainly something that big we would have gotten notice about it,” Andrew said.
“There hasn’t been any type of mass-emails going out or any type of updates about — or anything like that even being talked about as far as restricting transactions for guns and ammo. … That would have some pretty big implications — very controversial.”
Stemock told The Daily Caller in an email late Wednesday that she is having second thoughts about continuing to do business with Bank of America.
“Do I trust them? No. not now,” she said. “I was flat out lied to on one of the two calls.”
“When you call customer service and so quickly get ‘correct,’ then you call back and get ‘we havent heard anything about this,’ then I wonder… who in there is truly watching me and my interests”
The urban legend-busting website snopes.com declared false Wednesday afternoon the claim that Bank of America blocks its bank card customers from purchasing guns or ammunition. It noted, however, two cases where the bank allegedly blocked its corporate customers from trading in firearms.
Last month American Spirit Arms owner Joe Sirochman claimed on Facebook that Bank of America froze his company’s accounts for three weeks, ultimately telling him via telephone, “We believe you should not be selling guns and parts on the Internet.”
And in April 2012, McMillan Group International operations director Kelly McMillan wrote on Facebook that a Bank of America senior vice president told him after the company began manufacturing guns that his business was no longer welcome.
In that case, a bank representative told Snopes that it “has no policies that would prohibit us from doing business with clients in [the firearms] industry.”
Riess said she would update TheDC further on Sirochman’s and McMillan’s complaints.
TheDC asked Stemick via email whether she planned to continue banking with Bank of America, and whether she was concerned that company employees only referred to debit cards when answering her questions. She did not immediately respond.
This article was updated after publication to include additional comments from Ms. Stemick.