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Former customers of the high street bank contacted the FOS after their accounts were closed and they couldn’t access their own money. Although the FOS concluded that NatWest was within its rights to close the accounts, it said the way customers were treated during this process was unfair, awarding them up to £500 in compensation.
Some NatWest customers were furious when they received black marks on their credit files – one former customer of the bank had to rely on food banks to feed their family.
Another lost out on a house purchase because they couldn’t access funds in their account for several months.
Others had their details passed onto debt collectors without being contacted beforehand, with many complaining of suffering a great deal of stress due to the matter.
The FOS upheld these complaints with many receiving up to £500 in compensation.
NatWest Bank has been forced to compensate customers (Image: Getty)
It is unusual for a bank to close an account but it is within its right to do so if it thinks that something isn’t right.
A NatWest spokesperson said: “We have clear legal and regulatory responsibilities to protect our customers and accounts from fraud and the proceeds of crime.
“We take these responsibilities very seriously and will act if we detect any activity that falls outside those controls.
“A decision to close a customer’s account is only reached after very careful consideration.”
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Customers who aren’t happy with such a decision should contact their bank in the first instance and ask for an explanation.
They are then advised to contact the Financial Ombudsman Service if they’re still not happy or haven’t received a response after eight weeks.
The bank doesn’t have to tell you the reason behind the decision, but it can be forced to give unhappy customers up to £500 in compensation by the FOS if it’s found that they were in the wrong.
All complaints will be looked into.
The best interest rates (Image: Getty)
FOS guidelines state: “Businesses that provide bank accounts are generally entitled to close them – just as their customers are.
“But you should treat your customers fairly.
“You shouldn’t close an account because of unfair bias or unlawful discrimination.
“And you shouldn’t usually close an account without giving reasonable notice.”
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Some reasons that might make customers feel they have a right to complain are if their bank discriminated against them, an employee gave them contradictory information or the bank didn’t give enough notice before closing an account.
The FOS will then look at several factors, including if the bank acted fairly and what it has done to support the customer.
Banks are usually expected to give people 30 days’ notice if they plan on closing their account.
However, they can give less than this if they suspect fraud or if a customer is threatening or abusive to staff.