Charged by Santander for phantom bank account
I recently received a letter from Santander informing me that I had an overdrawn balance on an account I didn't even realise that I had.
I contacted the bank's customer services department, which told me the account was indeed under my name, and I owed Santander £250.79 in fees and charges. It added that if I still didn't recognise the account, I should go to my local branch in Uxbridge to discuss the matter further.
I visited the branch and spoke to a member of staff. She went out of her way to help me - but when she took the problem to a personal adviser, he was very rude and unhelpful.
I also spoke to the fraud and the collection and recovery departments, both of which directed me back to the branch. The branch, in turn, continued to advise me to contact the fraud and collection and recovery departments. And so this went on, with no one undertaking to solve my problem.
However, while at the branch, I learnt that the account was opened in 2004, but as no transactions had taken place, the overdraft had piled up due to non-usage fees.
To date, I've never received any statements or correspondence from Santander, and I'm not aware of any cards being sent to my home address. I find it quite strange to receive a letter out of the blue, asking me to pay for an overdraft on an account I didn't even know existed.
A: Moneywise says:
It's bad enough being faced with charges on an account that you do use, let alone an account that you know nothing about. On top of that, Edward was forced to go back and forth between different departments to try and find out what exactly was going on.
Given that he could have been a victim of fraud, it's even more surprising that - apart from the first employee he spoke to - the staff didn't treat Edward's query with any sense of urgency.
Santander eventually got back to him and explained that the account was in his name, but the reason it had been forgotten about was because it was an old Alliance & Leicester one. The overdrawn balance was down to the monthly account fees that were still accruing.
In a statement to Moneywise, Santander was unable to provide any concrete reason for the lack of communication, simply saying it was "unsure" why Edward hadn't received any statements.
However, it has apologised for the "inconvenience caused" and has now closed the account. It has also written off the outstanding balance, so Edward won't have to pay back the £250 overdraft.
An overdraft is an agreement with your bank that authorises you to withdraw more funds from your account than you have deposited in it. Many banks charge for this privilege either as a fixed fee or charge interest on the money overdrawn at a special high rate. Some banks charge a fee and interest. And other banks offer a free overdraft but impose very high charges for exceeding the agreed limit of your overdraft.