Have you ever had a banking error screw up your life? It doesn’t happen often perhaps, but when it does, the headaches can be monumental. Just trying to get the balances squared away can be a huge challenge.

Imagine, then, the level of anxiety that you likely would feel if you learned that your bank mistakenly informed the top four credit rating services that you had filed for bankruptcy when you hadn’t. That’s exactly the dilemma that customers of one bank are going through right now. The events didn’t happen in Arkansas, but could have. 

Filing for bankruptcy protection may be viewed by many as a solution of last resort. The choice may come only after a lot of emotional turmoil and difficulty. But if the choice is made with the benefit of solid legal counsel, it can be a significant source of relief.  That only makes what happened in Ohio that much worse.

According to news reports, Fifth Third National Bank of Cincinnati began informing customers last week by regular mail that it had mistakenly informed Innovis, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian that some of its customers had filed for bankruptcy.

What’s worse is that the error reportedly occurred in October. It wasn’t discovered until November. It wasn’t fixed until December. The bank is only now sending out the notices to its customers.

Some reports say as many as 20,000 customers got word, but the bank isn’t confirming that. Nor does the bank explain in its letter how the mistake was made, what was done to correct things, or why it’s taken this long to let customers know.

It does assure customers that the bank is dedicated to making sure that no one’s credit history suffers as a result of the mistake. For some that assurance may come too late.

Source: IEEE Spectrum, “Ohio Bank Erroneously “Files” Many of Its Depositors for Bankruptcy,” Robert N. Charette, Feb. 17, 2014