Advice needed re: closed bank account and CIFAS

Around 2 months ago, my bank froze my account and wouldn't tell me anything (so obviously regarded it as suspicious). This lasted a couple of weeks, after which time my account was reinstated. I then had around a week where I could use my account normally - during this time I did not make any unusual transactions or anything, in fact the only activity at all was a couple of normal debit card purchases in shops.

I then found I was blocked again and this time the bank told me my account had been permanently closed (no notice).

I never did anything wrong, I've not taken part in any fraud or financial crime and although the bank have never told me what set all this off, I think I have an idea.

There were frequent cash deposits and withdrawals on my account over the last few months, as well as transfers to my other personal account with a different bank. This was the result of gambling with cash in bookies and arcades - stupid habit, I know, but not a crime. But this is the only thing I can think of on my account which would have even remotely looked suspicious.

The terms and conditions the bank referred me to in their letter closing my account basically say the only circumstances under which they can do this, without giving me a notice period, is if they have reasonable grounds to believe I've committed a crime or fraud. I appreciate cash deposits might be vaguely suspicious, but I struggle to believe they amount to such grounds.

I've done a CIFAS check and as of today, which is a few weeks after my account was closed, it's come back clean. That's been my biggest worry - wrongly being branded a criminal in a way which might lead to other accounts being closed or make it impossible for me to open new ones or get any form of credit in future.

I've escalated a complaint (which was summarily rejected by the bank) regarding my account being suddenly closed to the ombudsman. But what I want to know is if the bank were going to file a CIFAS marker, would they have already done it by now? Or if I make a further complaint to the bank, am I risking them deciding to add a marker now where they haven't already? I don't believe they had reasonable grounds to close my account without notice and the fact they reinstated my account for a time after freezing it surely proves even they don't think they had any firm grounds to believe I'd done anything wrong?
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Comments

  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 35,242 Forumite
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    edited 25 July 2022 at 11:52AM
    If you have no CIFAS markers, now is the time to open another account elsewhere. 

    Your previous bank won't be taking you back, so there's little to be gained by continuing to pursue them. Keep an eye on your CIFAS files to see if things change and address them at that time.
  • Argyl53
    Argyl53 Posts: 9 Forumite
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    edited 17 August 2022 at 6:40PM
    If you have no CIFAS markers, now is the time to open another account elsewhere. 

    Your previous bank won't be taking you back, so there's little to be gained by continuing to pursue them. Keep an eye on your CIFAS files to see if things change and address them at that time.
    I am opening another account elsewhere but my question is if my previous bank could file a CIFAS marker weeks or even months after closing my account, or when the ombudsman investigates my complaint with them.
  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 35,242 Forumite
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    They could, but your complaint has no bearing on that.
  • Argyl53
    Argyl53 Posts: 9 Forumite
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    edited 17 August 2022 at 6:40PM
    They could, but your complaint has no bearing on that.
    Huh? Of course it does. They closed my account under a clause which refers to a reasonable belief of criminal misconduct, so ensuring I am not wrongly labelled a criminal to other banks is a big, big concern here.
  • Sandtree
    Sandtree Posts: 10,628 Forumite
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    If you have no CIFAS markers, now is the time to open another account elsewhere. 
    Presumably the OP has "checked" via a credit report of some description in which case all they can say is that they have no "victim" CIFAS markers. Those markers point you out as the fraudster dont show on your credit report to you.

    https://www.cifas.org.uk/dsar 
  • Argyl53
    Argyl53 Posts: 9 Forumite
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    If you have no CIFAS markers, now is the time to open another account elsewhere. 
    Presumably the OP has "checked" via a credit report of some description in which case all they can say is that they have no "victim" CIFAS markers. Those markers point you out as the fraudster dont show on your credit report to you.

    I'm aware of the difference. I have the result of a CIFAS DSAR from last week and it is empty, other than a search carried out for a quotation some months back.
  • K_S
    K_S Posts: 6,713 Forumite
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    edited 25 July 2022 at 1:38PM
    @argyl53 The bar for most CIFAS markers is actually pretty high - There needs to be more than a suspicion or concern. It has to show it had reasonable grounds to believe that a fraud or financial crime had been committed or attempted and that the evidence would support this being reported to the authorities.

    As per the FOS "To meet the standard of proof required to register a fraud marker, the bank must carry out checks of sufficient depth and retain records of these checks. This should include giving the account holder the opportunity to explain the activity on their account in order to understand their level of knowledge and intention."

    Unfortunately (as you can see from the FOS database of upheld cases where customers had complained about unfair CIFAS markers), banks often ignore the above requirements, with often devastating consequences for the customers involved which take a lot of time and effort to resolve. So you are absolutely right to keep this issue in focus.

    The good news in your case appears to be that the lender hasn't put in a CIFAS marker, at least as yet. Unless there is new information that comes up during the complaints process, I would think it very unlikely that proceeding with the complaint would lead to them applying for a CIFAS marker. Based on the limited info in your post, in your place I would also progress the complaint to its full extent, there's no expense involved on your part and only a bit of time and effort.

    I am a Mortgage Adviser - You should note that this site doesn't check my status as a mortgage adviser, so you need to take my word for it. This signature is here as I follow MSE's Mortgage Adviser Code of Conduct. Any posts on here are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as financial advice. 

    PLEASE DO NOT SEND PMs asking for one-to-one-advice, or representation.

  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 35,242 Forumite
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    edited 25 July 2022 at 1:47PM
    Argyl53 said:
    They could, but your complaint has no bearing on that.
    Huh? Of course it does. 

    Huh? Of course it doesn't.

    They either you believe merit a CIFAS marker or you don't. Your complaint won't change their decision not to report and hit you with a marker in retaliation.
  • simon_or
    simon_or Posts: 890 Forumite
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    edited 25 July 2022 at 1:47PM
    Argyl53 said:
    They could, but your complaint has no bearing on that.
    Huh? Of course it does. They closed my account under a clause which refers to a reasonable belief of criminal misconduct, so ensuring I am not wrongly labelled a criminal to other banks is a big, big concern here.
    You're right, a complaint will (at the very least) prompt them to make sure that they follow their own rules with regard to slapping on a fraud marker. As you see time and again on the forums and in the media, banks can be flippant with these markers and later withdraw them after a long winded complaints process.

    Keep at it, at least the bank will have to shell out a few hundred quid when it goes to the Ombudsman and spend some resources on your complaint.
  • Argyl53
    Argyl53 Posts: 9 Forumite
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    K_S said:
    @argyl53 The bar for most CIFAS markers is actually pretty high - There needs to be more than a suspicion or concern. It has to show it had reasonable grounds to believe that a fraud or financial crime had been committed or attempted and that the evidence would support this being reported to the authorities.

    Unfortunately (as you can see from the FOS database of upheld cases where customers had complained about unfair CIFAS markers), banks often ignore the above requirement, with often devastating consequences for the customers involved which take a lot of time and effort to resolve. So you are absolutely right to keep this issue in focus.

    The good news in your case appears to be that the lender hasn't put in a CIFAS marker, at least as yet. Unless there is new information that comes up during the complaints process, I would think it very unlikely that proceeding with the complaint would lead to them applying for a CIFAS marker. Based on the limited info in your post, in your place I would also progress the complaint to its full extent, there's no expense involved on your part and only a bit of time and effort.
    Thanks for your reply - this is the bit which confuses me and why I'm asking for advice. "Reasonable grounds to believe that a fraud or financial crime has been committed" is more or less the same wording in the bank's T&Cs under which they closed my account. How can they possibly have reasonable grounds to believe I've carried out any illegal activity such as to immediately terminate my account, but not feel they have sufficient evidence to file a CIFAS marker? And yet I think surely if they did believe they had those grounds, they would have put a CIFAS marker against my name already? So I guess what I'm trying to find out is if anyone's ever heard of a bank filing a marker a few weeks or more after an account has been closed on the basis of perceived suspicion?

    Same with freezing my account then unfreezing it. Doesn't restoring full access to my account and money for several days before closing it undermine their claimed reasons for closing?

    The whole thing is awful. I'm sitting here knowing I haven't done anything wrong and having to worry that I might suddenly find one day any other accounts I have are closed and I'm blacklisted everywhere. I feel stupid now, for not realising earlier that paying cash in would look dodgy but also - why would I think that? From my perspective, all I was doing was paying my own money in to my own bank account, I didn't have any reason to think twice about that or ask myself what it might look like.
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