Action 9

‘Left me with 14 cents’: Woman claims all her money disappeared from popular finance app

ST. CLOUD, Fla. — A central Florida woman claims more than a thousand dollars suddenly disappeared from her account while using a popular finance app. She told Action 9 Consumer Investigator Jeff Deal the Albert app then initially denied her claim when she tried to get the money back.

On its website, the Albert app bills itself as a “Simple way to bank, save and invest.”  It’s easy for people to download on their phones and start using its services.

Betsy Luis, from Osceola County, said she started using the Albert app a few years ago.  She initially just used it for easy payroll advances, but recently agreed to have her payroll checks direct deposited to the app instead of her regular bank. Her first three payroll checks went in, and she had no problems using the money on the Albert app to pay bills. She wasn’t concerned about it until her fourth direct deposit.

“The next thing I know my direct deposit went and they took the money,” Luis said.

She told Action 9 that after her payroll deposit went in, most of the money suddenly went right back out.

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“They sent me another alert immediately that the account was low. That was the alert I got. When I checked into my account, they left me with 14 cents,” Luis said.

Nearly $1,400 showed as being sent to a company she didn’t recognize.  Luis lives paycheck to paycheck and had no money to live on.  She claims an Albert representative initially told her she was to blame and the transaction was legitimate, so the company denied her claim.  But after she let them know she’d contacted Action 9 for help, she noticed the tone had changed.

Luis relayed what she remembered about their response, “They’re working on it, they understand my frustration that they are working really hard to make sure that that money goes in there, but blah, blah.”

Eva Velasquez with the Identity Theft Resource Center said while some apps can be helpful, there are some tradeoffs. Velasquez told Action 9, “Anytime that you are looking to streamline managing your finances, you have to realize that with that automation comes a loss of control.”

She said it’s important to do your research before signing up, understand how any app uses your information and how disputes are handled.

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Velasquez emphasized, “Read those terms and conditions, understand the processes and understand how something is being given to you for free.”

Albert has a “B” rating with the Better Business Bureau, but gets just over one out of five stars from customer reviews and it’s had hundreds of complaints in the past year.  Many of the complaints stemmed from money allegedly disappearing from customer’s accounts or being charged for services they don’t want.

One consumer complained to the BBB: “Albert randomly took ****** from my ******* account. Making me go into the negative for when I tried to purchase something.”

When we inquired to find out why Betsy Luis’ money disappeared,  Albert sent us a statement saying: “We’re unable to share details about our members’ account information for security purposes. Albert takes all security incidents seriously.”

That same day, Luis told us Albert promised her a refund. Four days later, she received a check in the mail for the entire amount.  Still, the experience has left a sour taste in her mouth.

“I’m not rich. I mean I tried to do the right thing by working every day and taking care of myself. And I don’t think this is fair. It’s not fair at all.

If something like this happens to you, you can report it to reporting it to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal,

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.