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Ensuring consistent support for victims of financial abuse

16 October 2019

We're proud to have worked with Refuge to champion the Financial Abuse Code of Practice, which ensures victims of financial abuse get consistent support from financial services firms. It also makes sure that those serving customers can recognise the signs of financial abuse. Read stories from our colleagues, who have helped and supported vulnerable customers.

Matt’s story: Helping get the best outcome for a vulnerable customer who was a victim of financial abuse.

I took a call from one of our branches who were looking for support to help a customer who had come into the branch worried that her then partner was trying to prevent her accessing funds and the account they shared.

The customer was in the branch with a friend with her for support and she wanted to be removed from the account without the partner who she was leaving finding out her new address.

I needed to speak to other teams within the bank to make the right arrangements to get her removed from the account, and in a way that keep her new address private from the other account holder.

The standard process for this is that both account holders need to sign and return forms for us to be able to do this but it was very clear that this was a sensitive situation and we needed to go through a bespoke process that would ensure the customer could be removed from the account to protect her address details and for her safety.

When I had a conversation with the leader of the Vulnerable Customers team in the bank she ensured that the right people and teams worked together to get the best outcome for the customer and we were able to remove her from the account and ensure her new address was withheld from the person she was so worried about.

Chris' story: Working co-operatively to find the best outcome.

A customer came into one of our branches with her social worker, they needed to give us important information and arrange to access funds on behalf of the customer. The customer had suffered a severe stroke which affected her ability to communicate so the branch needed to refer to the specialist Customer Care Team for guidance.

I spoke with the customer's social worker who explained the following:

  • There are safeguarding concerns in regards to wilful neglect which are being investigated by the police. This has led to the breakdown of the customer's relationship and loss of a home.
  • The social worker stated that the customer's finances needed to be separated from her ex-partner's and asked that her joint account be transferred to a sole account in her name only.
  • The customer now resides in a care home and is unable to effectively communicate so requires others to anticipate her care needs at all times.
  • The council will eventually be the official advocates who will have authority to manage the customer's finances but this will take time as it needs to go through court.
  • The social worker said the customer needed to withdraw some money but could not remember the pin for her debit card.

The social worker had brought documentation from the local authority which branch emailed to me. I then worked with my manager to evaluate what we could do to support our customer. Given the complexity of the case, the safeguarding concerns and that the customer was particularly vulnerable, we did the following:

  • Converted the account from joint to sole.
  • Authorised for access to cash during the visit to branch
  • Restricting the ex-partner's access to the account.
  • Marker applied so that no correspondence about the account is sent to her previous address, this means anyone else that services the account will know that the customer is vulnerable.

The social worker was grateful for our help and now knows that the Customer Care Team will be their dedicated point of contact. I'm really glad that we have bespoke processes that we can use to support our vulnerable customers and that we were able to put that in place quickly for our customer whilst they made the one visit to the branch that day.

To read more about our My Money, My Life campaign with Refuge and how we've championed their work on the Financial Abuse Code of Practice, visit our campaigning pages.

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