Some customers have experienced financial difficulties after their accounts were closed by Natwest, with some being forced to use food banks or borrow money to get by.
Natwest has been forced to cough up a number of payments following complaints recently filed with the Financial Ombudsman Service.
It is an organization that resolves complaints between consumers and companies providing financial services.
Although the financial mediator said Natwest was within his rights to close the accounts, he ordered the bank to pay compensation to a series of clients because of the way they were treated.
This means that the money was allocated because of Natwest’s customer service, not because they closed the accounts.
A customer received a payment of £ 500 after his account was closed by Natwest, stating that a £ 5,000 check deposited by the customer into his account was fraudulent or forged.
The bank put a black mark on her credit report and the client said she was unable to open a savings account and remortgage her rental properties.
But the financial mediator said Natwest did not have “sufficient evidence” to put this on its credit report.
Another client won a payment of £ 200 after Natwest closed his account, but failed to put in place a payment plan to allow him to settle his overdraft of £ 5,000.
Natwest refused to allow the customer to repay their debt in stages and instead turned their account over to debt collectors.
But the financial mediator said it was not “fair and reasonable” and ordered Natwest to pay out £ 200.
While a client said he turned to food banks and borrowed money from family and friends after his account was closed by Natwest.
The client was unable to access the money in his closed account for three months after a series of delays failed to release the funds.
They said the delays caused them “serious distress” and that he lost a house he was buying because he could not access his money.
The financial mediator ordered Natwest to pay £ 250 because the delays were ‘unnecessary’ and put the client in a ‘difficult decision’.
A spokesperson for NatWest said, “We have clear legal and regulatory responsibilities to protect our clients and our accounts against fraud and the proceeds of crime.
“We take these responsibilities very seriously and will act if we detect activity that is escaping these controls. The decision to close a client’s account is only made after very careful consideration. “
This follows the recent increase in complaints about bank account closures.
In 2019, complaints to the financial mediation service jumped by 20% from Britons who could not access their money.
How to complain
Banks are allowed to close accounts without notice if they suspect fraud.
But if you believe that your account has been closed unfairly, you can complain to the relevant provider.
If you do not get a response within eight weeks, or if you are not satisfied with the response you get, you can file your complaint with the free financial mediation service.
The ombudsman says most complaints he receives about bank account closures or freezes involve:
- bank does not give sufficient notice – Mediator suggests 30-60 days notice is reasonable, unless there is suspicion of fraud
- the bank giving conflicting information or advice
- the bank showing illegal discrimination
- the bank does not follow procedures correctly
If your account is closed, you should also think about rearranging direct debits or standing orders as they will need to be paid manually until you can get a new account.
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HSBC announced in January that it was closing 82 branches this year, and Santander announced plans to close 111 branches by the end of August as well.