Monday, June 21, 2021

I’m shielding, but Halifax still wants me to visit a branch | Money

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I have had an online savings account with Halifax since 2014 which I use very little. Last month, I needed to send £35,000 to family in the US, which had to be done in two transactions so as not to exceed the bank’s daily limit.

I asked Halifax by phone to transfer the first £20,000, but was told that further authentication was required and that I needed to contact its fraud department. I got through after hours of trying and hanging on the line.

The operative released my funds, but when I asked her to transfer the second £15,000, I was told to go into the branch for further authentication.

I am 80 and shielding. I live alone with no car and no family nearby and the nearest branch is 10 miles away. Halifax has a special number for the over-70s, but what is the point when its approach to the over-70s is so inflexible?

CM, London

Banks are damned if they do – and if they don’t. I’ve published many horror stories of what can happen when they don’t scrutinise unusual payments, so it’s encouraging the Halifax was so protective. However, vulnerable customers should not be forced to risk a face-to-face meeting and you’re not the only one to be told no alternatives are in place.

Pensioner HW was told she had to visit her Halifax branch with ID before her new address could be registered and JM, 70, in London was told to visit his local NatWest by the bank’s fraud team after trying to make a payment to his brother.

Halifax says: “Helping keep customers’ money safe is our priority and research has found nearly a quarter of people have let down their guard against scams during the pandemic.”

NatWest will allow the required evidence to be submitted by email, and says: “We have apologised directly. NatWest is following government guidelines and advises against all but the most essential travel to our branches. We have procedures in place to support customers who are shielding and vulnerable.”

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