Resolver’s guide to banking meltdowns – your rights

4 min read
April 26, 2018

26/04/2018 Worried about the current banking palaver? Hit by a cashpoint crisis? This is Resolver’s guide to banking meltdowns.

Banking meltdowns are confusing and worrying situations. However, you can take steps to get yourself sorted. We run through some common issues in this guide.

I can’t access my money – what can I do?

We understand how stressful it can be to not have access to your money, particularly after a considerable period of time. If you’re affected and need to deal with the immediate problem, have a think about how much money you need to get you through the next day or so to cover basic expenses. Contact the bank to see if you can collect this sum from a local branch.

If this isn’t possible and you have another bank or credit card, then contact them and explain the situation, asking if they can temporarily extend credit while the problem lasts. In the past, most banks and credit providers have been reasonable about helping people in this situation.

Think about how much money you need to cover basic expenses.

What if I’m stuck abroad with no cash?

It’s rare, but some people may find themselves urgently in need of cash if they’re stranded abroad with no access to money. Under these circumstances, speak to your hotel to explain the situation and ask if they can extend your stay or cover basic expenses while the problem is resolved. If you desperately need money, the most effective way to get some is to arrange for a friend or relative to send an international money transfer. You will need to find a participating business near your location to collect the money from.

People in the UK should watch out for email or text fraudsters though. There was a spate of scams last year where fraudsters claimed to be colleagues or friends stranded abroad. So speak to the person before sending cash.

What if I’ve not been able to pay bills/transactions/employees?

If you’ve experienced any ‘knock on’ consequences of not being able to pay your outgoing bills then you can put in a claim for your losses. The starting point should always be to put you back in the position that you would have been in had the error not occurred. How the bank does that will depend on the circumstances.

Keep the details of the payment, date and any charges you’ve incurred and make that part of your complaint. Don’t forget, if you’ve missed a payment like a mortgage or credit payment you might have a ‘black mark’ on your credit file. Ask the bank to provide you with confirmation in writing that the payment failed as a result of their error. Then give that to the other business and ask them to confirm in writing t
hat this marker has been removed from your credit file. Some claim they can’t ‘legally’ do this. That’s rubbish – they can and should!

What are my rights to compensation if my data has been compromised?

Despite data breaches happening on a worryingly frequent basis, there’s very little in the way of laws or regulations covering compensation. As a general rule, if there’s evidence that your data has been compromised (used by a fraudster, exposed private personal information, etc) then significant compensation may be appropriate. But often the firm will argue that there’s no evidence your data has been compromised so you’ve not ‘lost’ anything.

We recommend listing out any costs you might incur as a result of having to protect your data. For example, moving to another bank, time spent changing your passwords and internet logins across various other platforms (if your ID data has been revealed, for example).

Compensation for the error itself falls in to the category of ‘a gesture of goodwill’ and is usually low (less than £50 if your data hasn’t been stolen or used inappropriately).

What should I do if I can see someone else’s account when I log in online?

This is a serious error by the bank. If you want to report the matter, then take a screenshot, contact the bank and ask for a secure email address you can send it to. Ask them to confirm in writing that they’ve notified the person whose data has been breached too. You can also report this to the Information Commissioner.

What steps do I need to take to protect myself now?

I know it’s a nightmare, but change your password asap if you can get on to the online banking system. Ask the bank about changing your ID questions too. Keep an eye on your bank statements and look for bounced or failed transactions and anything that might have resulted in a charge. If your data has been compromised, ask the bank to transfer your entire account to a new account number. They should move all your debits over too and confirm in writing that the old account is closed and not linked to the new one.

I want to switch banks – where else is worth considering?

There are loads of guides to switching bank accounts and the businesses that offer the best deals. Think long term. Don’t go for introductory offers. Look for interest rates, accessibility of branches and good reviews for customer service.

It now should only take 7 days to switch a bank account. Just speak to the new provider – they’ll sort it all out. Any debits or payments made in error to the old account for a 13-month period will be transferred over.

You can complain about any of the problems mentioned in this Q&A through Resolver for free.

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