E*Trade Securities LLC / Maintenance Fee Scam
On December 10, 2008 I received an email from E*TRADE Securities stating they had liquidated my stocks and closed my account. I immediately called them to find out what was going on and was told they closed the account because there was no money left in it to pay the quarterly maintenance fees. I asked the customer service representative what he was talking about. My account didn’t have any fees. He said that there was a $40 per quarter maintenance fee that they had been taking out of my account for some time and, since the market all but wiped out my stock holdings, there was no money left in the account to pay the fees. I was livid!
I opened that account with 285 shares of my company stock on or about January 25, 2000. I only opened that account because it was a fee-less account (or so I was told) and I had planned on doing nothing with the stock until its value rose sufficiently to recoup some of the stocks losses. Because of this I very infrequently checked the account--maybe once or twice a year--and then only to see what the stock was worth at that point.
Somewhere along the way E*Trade stopped sending me hard-copy statements. This wasn’t an issue since I most likely agreed to receive electronic statements. What I didn’t realize, however, was that, also somewhere along the way, E*Trade had started charging a maintenance fee on the account. Unfortunately, I did not discover this tidbit of information until I made the call as to why they closed my account.
At no point did I ever agree to a fee-based account. I don’t have any fee-based accounts and I certainly wouldn’t agree to one for an account that I was just sitting on until the time was right to liquidate and close it.
It's apparent from this site and others that E*Trade has deceived others in this scheme. Some say they are trying to put together a class action lawsuit against E*Trade, but I have yet to find any link or contact information on how to join the suit.
In the mean time, I filed my complaint with the Texas Attorney General's office and the SEC Complaint Center and I highly recommend anyone else who has fallen prey to E*Trade do the same.
E*Trade’s tactics are nothing short of grand larceny as far as I'm concerned and they not only should have their license revoked, but the management who trumped-up this deceitful and illegal money-grabbing scheme should be thrown in jail.