My bank made me feel like a criminal

3 April 2018

Moneywise helps a reader made to feel like a criminal by their bank.

If you’ve never read Franz Kafka’s The Trial, I reckon you should. It tells the tale of K, a man accused of a crime but not told what the crime is.

There are similarities with reader VB of Cardiff, who felt he was treated like a criminal by his bank. It suspended his account, but it wouldn’t tell him why and left him locked out of his account with bills due.

VB was in a bit of a panic when he contacted us. “I have been using my TSB account as normal until yesterday when I tried logging into internet banking and found my account was suspended,” he said.

“I have never committed any wrongdoing whatsoever and have not been told of any closure. I am in need of urgent assistance as I have no access to money and I am working away from home. I have no idea what to do and why this is happening.”

We leapt into action and contacted TSB to fi nd out what was going on. It promised to look into the matter.

We told VB that, although it was no consolation. He said: “I haven’t slept a wink all night and have a knot in my stomach. I am off work today due to the stress and worry, and I feel physically sick at how it can do this.”

Realising the urgency of the situation, back we went to TSB to press it for urgent action. It told us: “The team are on the case here, working on this as a priority.”

We asked TSB to explain why the account had been suspended. Its response: “Unfortunately, there are some circumstances where we’re not able to disclose the reason why we’ve suspended an account.”

We explained that the situation was urgent and that without access to cash, VB wouldn’t be able to pay his bills and rent.

The bank said: “We’re exploring all the options available to ensure we can help VB with access to his funds.”

Over the next couple of days, VB’s distress turned to anger as he was given no explanation. “I am now being treated like a criminal and not being given a reason why. This is a major issue for me,” he said.

His salary was due to be paid into the account in a couple of days’ time and he had no way to get at his cash.

His anger was understandable. Trying to fathom what may have happened, we questioned him about his account activity and whether there had been any unusual activity, which may have prompted the bank’s action.

“None,” he said. “I can justify every single one of the transactions on my account – one by one if needs be. It feels as though it’s been done by picking a name out of a hat. I have not done anything wrong at all.”

Convinced by his passion, we urged TSB to act quickly. A customer services worker phoned VB, but left him feeling no more confident that things would be sorted out.

With just 24 hours before VB’s salary was due to hit his account – and disappear beyond his reach – we went back to TSB.

The bank said: “We’re really mindful that the customer has funds coming into his account tomorrow and are exploring all the options available to make sure he will get access to his money.”

That, understandably, wasn’t good enough for VB, so he arranged for his salary to be paid into his dad’s account, simply so he could access his cash.

OUTCOME: Reader’s account reinstated and compensation of £598 handed over

TSB's response


Since publication, a spokesperson for TSB got in touch to tell Moneywise:  “We’re really sorry to hear what has happened to Mr Bhudia.  We never take a decision to close an account lightly but unfortunately on this occasion we have made a mistake.  The service we provided was not the level that Mr Bhudia deserved, nor up to the standards we pride ourselves on. We’ve now contacted Mr Bhudia to put this right.”

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

we were scammed for £11K four weeks ago, by a phone call, supposedly from BT,about our broadband internet connection being suspect and vulnerable to hackers. Another gang member then convinced me he was from Action Fraud and would protect us!! Luckily Santander waited patiently to get a call into me at 7pm to stop a payment to the scammer and bring the 4 hour scam to an end. Even then the scammer kept ringing to try to convince me he was still the good guy!We are in the minority group of only 5% who tell others, but in reality 1 in every 2 people have been scammed. I have increased awareness on Toddington Facebook and Three Counties radio, as well as joining the national campaign FRIENDS AGAINST SCAMS (FAS)operated by the Trading Standards. It started in Sussex, but I hope Beds. can catch up and help to increase the number of FRIENDS from the current total of nearly 20,000 per month to reach the target of 1,000,000 by 2020. The launch of this initiative was on 24/1/18 by security minister Ben Wallace, with Nat West Bank, National Trading Standards and other VIPs in attendanceI hope you also might watch the slideshow from their website to learn the best way for FRIENDS to spot potential victims and fight the scammers head on, in what is now an epidemic. Spreading awareness, instead of keeping quiet, is vitalI have enrolled our Parish Council and have asked LTFC and Three Counties Radio to become FRIENDS AGAINST SCAMS ORGANISATIONS at/ after Easter Monday’s match. I hope our MP, Nadine Dorries will become a SCAMbassador to promote the campaign in parliament and ask Central Beds. Council to be a FAS OrganisationDepending whether you’re with Barclays or else two of my banks, CooP and M&S, who ought to stick to directing funerals and selling knickers, will you be refunded. My 4 hour scam call revealed the phone scammers aren’t interested in the Lloyd’s Group, because it uses the landline to give the necessary One Time Passcode for withdrawalsPatrick Allenby

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It sounds as though a solicitor should be employed , after changing banks of course

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

This happened to me recently with my bank when I tried to pay my water bill. After over an hour on the phone with no luck and no reason given for my account being suspended I was told to ring back tomorrow as they might have more information.I rang back the following day and again nobody could tell me the reason why my funds were frozen. Then after talking to another department I was told my account would be open and fully working by the end of the day. I asked for the reason it had been suspended so that I could make sure to avoid whatever action had caused it only to be told that they didn't know why and couldn't see any reason why this had happened.I have a feeling that this is being done on a random basis as a friend of mine had much the same experience with his bank about a month ago. No reason given, guilty until proven innocent it would seem !

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Best is to open one or more additional current accounts to primarily take advantage of their high interest rates on admittedly limited sums of money.They then can be easily used to divert salary and other income payments and make urgent payments if a situation like this arises..VB was comparatively lucky to be able to call on his father to assist!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Reminds of the time we had a tax investigation. The Gestapo are alive and well!!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Banks can't be trusted, they pay you no interest to talk about and do not fully protect you at all.The law needs changing to make Banks 100% liable for every client's bank account and all funds within it.After all, it is your money NOT theirs !

In reply to by Patrick Allenby (not verified)

Great news about the formation of a group bringing awareness about these Scam merchants.As you say these are out of hand, mainly Eastern Europe and Nigeria being prolific, enough is enough, we all have to be so carefull.Can anyone join your group, if so can you give me contact details?.

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