I had a self-directed IRA account with Sterling Trust for about 2-3 years, and closed it in 2009 after experiencing significant service issues shortly after Sterling Trust (Waco, TX) was acquired by Equity Trust Company (Elyria, OH). During the time my account was open, I had never requested online account access. It seems unbelievable 3 years later to learn that my personal information (name, address, SSN, etc.) may have been compromised in January 2013 when its eVantage online account access portal was hacked.
Hello, numbskulls...my account was CLOSED three (3) years ago! Any personal, confidential information should have been removed at the time my account was closed (and quite frankly, was never authorized to be made available in the first place!). My privacy rights have been violated, and I'm fairly certain that many other customers are in the same boat.
The letter from Sterling Trust (aka "Equity Trust Company"; and soon-to-be-aka "Equity Institutional") goes on to state that "Sterling Trust has filed a Suspicious Activity Report...". It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out: When a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) is filed by a financial institution with FinCEN, the filing of the SAR as well as the mere existence that a SAR was even filed is highly confidential and should not to be disclosed to any one! Why would you publicize to your former customers (and probably to your current customers) that you even filed a SAR?
The cheapskates did not even offer to pay to cover me with a fraud protection service. That's not surprising, given that this family-owned company has a history of questionable ethics and morals in the many complaints that are on record, both public and private. After reading through the over 100 complaints filed on Ripoff Report, Pissed Consumer, and the Better Business Bureau, there are claims of fee-switching, deceptive fees, unresponsive service, inability to follow directions, false claims made in investment webinars, and the list goes on.
It's no wonder the BBB decided to revoke Equity Trust Company's accreditation in 2012 due to its inability to address the underlying causes of its customer complaints!