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I have a bank account in Bank of America, which I was maintaining while I was living there, but I have moved to Europe since about 8 years. The bank account still has some active balance, so I would like to transfer it to one of my European accounts. When I left US, I informed my bank about my European address and they entered it into the system. I also still have access to the online banking of my account.

Unfortunately, through the years, my US phone number and the debit card of Bank of America expired. I realized that despite having access to the online banking service, I cannot do wire transfers, because I don't have a debit card. Additionally, without a US cell number, I cannot receive the OTA code for authorizing the transfers. I have the following concerns:

For the debit card: In order to order a debit card, I need a US address. I have called the BoA service many times and I haven't managed to find the solution. They suggested I should give the address of a relative who lives in the US. I don't have a person that I really trust.

  • I could try to find some old colleagues or distant relatives, but what are the implications for them, if a bank account of a foreign person is connected with their personal address? Do any dangers entail for them?
  • There are some services which offer "virtual addresses" in the US, where one can send their post and manage it remotely. How trustworthy are these services, and would one trust them a debit card or other bank account details?

For the phone number:

  • I tried to rent or activate a virtual US phone number. One can do that with Skype, but for some reason the SMS OTA service is incompatible with Skype and authentication codes do not arrive. Is there any other suggestion of a virtual US cell number provider, that accepts such SMS codes
  • Edit: I managed to use Hushed for this. But despite sucessfully entering the phone on the system, the system doesn't send an OTA and requires me to call the customer center for every transaction. When I call the customer center, they tell me that it is not possible for them to provide me with an OTA and I should call again later.
  • I tried to active a USB security key, which bypasses the need for SMS codes. Unfortunately this gets stuck again to the requirement of having a debit card, which I do not have and cannot obtain (see above)

For the wire transfers:

  • A call center agent suggest that there are departments of BoA in Europe which I can visit and order a wire transfer in person, without the need of a debit card. I called one of them, only to learn that they don't offer retail services and most probably only departments in the US can offer that.

Does anybody have a similar experience and would there by any suggestions on how to solve any or all of the above?

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  • Have you tried initiating the transfer not from the online banking, but from Transferwise or similar? In the past, they would verify your US account ownership only by your name and by you confirming the amount of some under-$1 transaction(s) they made.
    – krubo
    Jan 9 at 17:47

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I have no experience with Bank of America, but I had a similar problem with a credit union in Toronto, Canada, after I had left the country and moved back to Europe.

In the end, I sent them a paper letter with the instructing to wire the remaining balance to a specific account and then close the account. In combination with a phonecall, I was able to wire my money even without having a bank card. I was a bit shocked at the low level of security needed to transfer all my money abroad.

I would call the bank and ask if it's possible to wire funds via a letter, probably along with copy of ID cards and perhaps other pieces of evidence/ID. It's inconvenient, but if your aim is to close the account, you only need to do this once, and then it's probably worth the effort.

I believe foreign branches of banks tend to serve business customers only and never do any retail banking.

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