TIAA - CREF Problems

A man recently died in North Carolina thinking that a rather large sum of money would be going to his intended beneficiary.  However, unbeknownst to him his requested change in beneficiary never went through.

The money stayed with the financial institution until the intended beneficiary eventually told the man's ex-wife that she was still listed as the beneficiary.

Complaints about customer service seem all-to-normal in today's impersonal corporate and institutional climate. 

But when they involve major personal economic issues such a teacher's retirement funds, they should be brought to the attention of those who could be affected.

We've gotten reports that dealings with the largest teacher retirement institution, TIAA/CREF, have resulted in some major problems -- problems that, even when they are discovered, can't be easily or reliably resolved.

Advice received from company spokespersons by telephone is reported to often be contradictory and inaccurate, and officials in charge either can't be reached, or will not return calls and letters. Even registered letters (which were recommended) are ignored.

When there are problems with the lengthy forms required to make changes, clients are not notified. Investors may assume the requested changes have been made and not discover otherwise until months after the fact -- if ever.

Although many educational institutions are locked into TIAA-CREF and teachers may have little choice in the matter, these teachers would be well advised to not assume that requested changes will be made. They should get confirmation in writing and retain copies of all correspondence.
Recently, this link was brought to our attention where comments about TIAA -CREF service can be posted.

>> Several writers have said it's helpful to register their complaints with the SEC at

*Since the institution said they had no record of the change, nothing could be done to honor the diseased man's wishes, especially when the ex-wife was made aware of the problem.

Clearly, the man didn't want the funds to go to his ex-wife, but, at the same time, he shouldn't have just assumed that his requested change had been made.

We should note that the complaints we've been made aware of date some time back, and we don't know if the problems have since been addressed.

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