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American Century locks investors out of their own accounts

On Tuesday, 10/15, I (and presumably all other AC account holders) received the following email:
Let’s Work Together to Protect Your Information

You want to feel confident that your information is being safeguarded. That’s why we’ve expanded our account security measures—and we need your help.

It’s simple: Just log in by December 31 to activate the additional measures. You’ll need to update your password and enroll in additional security options.
OK, so I went to the AC web page, and updated my password. No big deal. Then AC presented me with three security options, none of which, for various reasons, were workable for me.

That's it folks: we were now locked out of our account. No warning, no options, no way to even communicate with AC, other than by phone, which is not possible for me due to severe hearing issues.

My wife telephoned AC, informed them of the situation, and requested that they close the account immediately and transfer the entire balance electronically to a local account at JP Morgan Chase. We have had that AC account for over forty years, and it has consistently held between 400/500k. Fortunately there are no tax-sheltered IRA issues involved.

The AC service reps were very understanding, and tried their best to be helpful, but were not able to come up with an alternative. They agreed to close the account, advising that the electronic transfer to Chase would be made, and the transferred amount should be available at Chase by Friday.

Wednesday, 10/16: We received a phone call from AC, advising that they were working on some sort of fix which "should be available withing two or three weeks", and asked if we would cancel the account closure until then. We agreed.

Thursday, 10/17, 9:15AM: We received a phone call from AC, advising that they had modified the account sign-in procedure to include an old-fashioned "answer this secret question" safeguard.

I set that up a few minutes ago, and all seems well , at least for the time being.

We have to wonder how many other account AC holders threatened to leave American Century over this. Certainly must have been a substantial number, based on the speed of their response. It would be really interesting to know how much AUM money was at stake for AC. In any case, it certainly seems to have exceeded their "we don't really care" threshold.


  • TedTed
    edited October 2019
    You talk about over reaction !
  • edited October 2019
    Without any warning a mutual fund company locks you out of almost 500k of your own money, and you think that's perfectly fine. It would be very interesting to see your reaction if that happened to you.

  • Wow....utter incompetence.
  • edited October 2019
    Geez @Ted. While perhaps not the most enlightening post of all time, I’d much prefer hearing about the real-life issues others who own mutual funds deal with than to stare bleary-eyed at an endless sea of links. Hell, any kid over 12 could pull all that **** up on the internet in an hour’s time - maybe faster (if a really smart kid).

    BTW - You could really improve those posts if you’d write an intelligent sentence along with each one telling your vast audience why “the linkster” selected this or that particular story to share and how investors may benefit. That, IMHO, would lead to wider appreciation of your work and would show a real commitment on your part to helping less experienced investors - which I don’t currently detect. Copy & paste just doesn’t achieve the same end. Again, kids know how to do that.

    Ted, I know you will fault me for being overly-wordy, but please understand: (1) I’m trying to be as “diplomatic” here as possible so as not to ruffle your fragile feathers and (2) I want the advice I am rendering to be crystal clear to you.

    @ Old_Joe, Thanks for sharing. I’m glad at least the folks at AC you’ve talked to seemed to really care about the issues. Knowing about your steps already taken or under consideration is no doubt useful to younger investors. I left AC angry about 15 or so years ago when they began imposing loads on some of their funds. That effectively locked me out of some pretty good newer offerings at AC, even though I’d invested with them for a decade or more. In hindsight, I might have pursued the issue more patiently and completely and resolved it with their people. But, afraid I have a pretty short fuse.:)
  • Kudos to you @Old_Joe. The lack of a warning letter or some kind of contact was absurd on their part.
  • edited October 2019
    As a followup to all of this, here is an excerpt from an email just received from Mr. Hutcherson, a client rep at American Century:
    ... I am a Client Specialist here at American Century Investments. I have been working with Kristi Laing, who you guys spoke with yesterday about getting a new option for getting online access to your account. We have another option up and running and you can call me at any time...
    To which I responded:
    Mr. Hutcherson:

    Thank you for your email and earlier phone call. The new security option is perfectly workable from our perspective, and I've already set up the security question option.

    While I have to question the thought processes of whoever made the decision to arbitrarily deny customers access to their own funds, this remarkable act of arrogance has certainly been largely offset by the timely and effective response of the customer service reps. Perhaps you can relay those thoughts to the appropriate management staff.

  • that is a superb response from you and exactly what they hope for, from a reasonable and patient and eloquent customer, after realizing companywide that they majorly fucked up, and took prompt action

    all really good corporations act like this, and yes, they do want to keep your business and keep all HNW types happy and satisfied
  • It is important to keep in mind that these companies are not cynical and nefariously tradeoff-oriented / 'screw the customer'; they just are increasingly keen on security.

    You or I might say 'to a fault', but with all of the news, real and alarmist, about thefts and login laxity and such, they tighten and tighten, wisely or not.

    Last night I twice-typoed a PW for Merrill login, owing to a sticky-sluggish keyboard combined perhaps w some whisky, not sure, and had to reset the pw but no using the last 5 passwords.

    So now I have to go and update all my ICE instruction docs to wife and kids, where the old passwords were nice and uniform and comprehendable. Phooey.
  • "It is important to keep in mind that these companies... are increasingly keen on security."

    Yes, absolutely.
  • Received the following from Chuck today: ( You, Schwab, and your account security. )
    I haven't looked into it yet & also wondering if anyone else gave it a look see ?
  • @Derf- Yes, we received that also. It's much more reasonable, outlining a number of possible security enhancements and suggesting that we consider implementing them.
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