7 On Your Side helps small business in New Jersey unfreeze account

Nina Pineda Image
Monday, July 1, 2024
7 On Your Side helps business with frozen account
Nina Pineda helps a family-owned business after their account gets frozen.

IRVINGTON, New Jersey (WABC) -- We have all seen what a huge problem check fraud has become with banks cracking down, trying to combat check washing, and people stealing checks.

But what happens when you are a legit business owner, you get paid by another company, and even though the check clears your account gets frozen for the suspicion of fraud and you can't get it "unfrozen."

This frozen check had a snowball effect. A family-owned contracting company in New Jersey deposited $23,000 they couldn't use. So, the business had to turn down work.

In construction, you need to get paid to get supplies for the next job. You have to pay your workers, but there were no new jobs because their funds were in the freezer.

"You could look at it on your phone all day, it looks good on your phone but you can't touch it," said Andre Lockhart, business owner.

Andre and Maggie Lockhart's small business bank account has been on lockdown.

"It says deposit only. How can you run a business like that? It's like putting your money in a bottomless pit," Maggie said.

They've been struggling to get out of that hole ever since a check for $23,000 for repair work recently completed at a rehab center somehow

froze all their funds.

"Oh, this has been devastating," Maggie said.

"It's very upsetting. I'm very upset and hurt," Andre said.

The Essex County couple doesn't know why the deposit made at the branch with a teller got flagged for unusual activity and restricted their account.

"He said, 'Oh, I this is fraud. It's under investigation,' at the very last minute now you got to sit there and wait," she said.

The couple built their Irvington, New Jersey company from the ground up.

"She runs the books, I get the business," Andre said. "I do the work with my guys."

Superior Contracting and Property Management, LLC started with small jobs and grew to manage buildings.

"The only thing I wanted to do was be an African American who has credibility with his business," Andre said.

But now their business is at a standstill despite weeks of trying to prove their check, which cleared, is legit.

"I am this person, I'm the main one doing this and they said no it's fraud," she said.

With the funds frozen, they dipped in their savings to make payroll.

"Your workers got to get paid, they have bills to pay, they have responsibilities," he said.

"How many times did you go there, email?" 7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda asked.

"More than a dozen times," he said.

Frustrated, they emailed 7 On Your Side.

Pineda got in touch with Capital One, requesting a thaw, and within 24 hours it was done!

"They had called straightaway and said, 'Hey come and get your money,'" he said.

$23,300 was released and ready.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you, Nina Pineda," Andre said. "The best, she's number one, short of my wife, my mom, she's number one!"

Capital One told 7 On Your Side it was happy to confirm the bank worked directly with the customer to resolve this issue.

Some takeaways include:

Don't put large checks in the ATM. The Lockharts went to the teller which is good.

Bring your ID, and business papers, and ask to speak to a manager when you are dealing with big deposits.

It isn't easy to get a frozen account unfrozen.

Banks investigating possible fraud can take weeks. Having your business on ice can really do some damage.

ALSO READ: Hacks to save money when booking your next vacation

7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda has tips on saving money when booking your next vacation.

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