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
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.”