Atlanta woman says bank held her money hostage after getting small business loan

ATLANTA — You think your money is safe in your own bank account, but your bank can block you from having access to it without any explanation.

“They put a hold on my entire account April first. As you know, bills are due on April first,” Trei Taylor told Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray.

It took Taylor more than a year to get through the red tape and obtain a Small Business Administration COVID-19 relief loan for her voiceover and production business.

That $40,000 loan was finally deposited in her bank account last week.


“On Tuesday morning when that came in, I was ecstatic,” Taylor said.

But late that Friday came an alert that her bank account was locked up.

Taylor was blocked from access not just to the loan but also to all the money already in her account, totaling more than $12,000.

“Give me back my money. I earned that,” she said.


Taylor had moved away from traditional big banks. Instead, she used online bank Blue Vine, a so-called fintech company, to save on the fees and avoid just these kinds of big-bank problems.

“The people who run the fintech, many of them came from the big banks and adopted the same practices,” Channel 2 consumer adviser Clark Howard said.

Howard said banks have been known to do this when there is a big transaction they think could be fraud.

“The banks will lie and say they are doing this for your protection. No, this is only for them,” Howard said.

In a Channel 2 Action News Investigates story in 2020 on WSB Tonight, we showed you how Bank OZK confiscated more than $80,000 in PPP funds from the owner of a metro Atlanta dog bakery with no explanation.

“You never deposit money form a loan you get in the same place you do your regular banking, you’re asking for trouble,” Howard said.

Taylor had to borrow credit cards from friends to cover her first-of-the-month bills. While Blue Vine now said her account is being reactivated, she is still finding that payments won’t go through.

“It’s traumatizing because it just makes you feel like it was gangster. That’s all I could think of -- bullying, gangster,” Taylor said.

The other piece of advice here is to keep your money in more than one place.

Whether you are using a credit union, a traditional bank or an online bank, you should have another account at a different institution just in case.