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  • FIRST POST
    • John Galt
    • By John Galt 9th Apr 18, 6:21 PM
    • 9Posts
    • 4Thanks
    John Galt
    Barclays terminating my account without explanation
    • #1
    • 9th Apr 18, 6:21 PM
    Barclays terminating my account without explanation 9th Apr 18 at 6:21 PM
    Hi MSE
    I have been a Barclays customer for over 30 years - they've been at the centre of my finances for virtually my entire adult life. Recently I received a letter from them telling me that they are terminating my current and savings accounts and that I had 2 months to make other arrangements. They have done this without explanation - I have complained, but the situation is that they say they have reviewed my accounts and decided to close them - assessed against guidelines which they are unable to provide information on - i.e. totally opaque.

    Has anybody else experienced this recently? I am totally bemused because:
    1) My account is sufficiently in the black and has been for as long as I can remember
    2) Nothing has changed with my personal situation that I can think of that would affect the standing with my bank (no disputes, fines, CCJ's, divorce etc., etc.)
    3) My salary is paid in every month and has been for at least 12 years - I am the model of stability of good financial hygiene
    4) I do not launder money or deal in narcotics (or anything remotely close! )

    I am in discussion with my local branch and the Barclays complaints team but they are of no value.

    Any advice or insight? Guesses? Anything!!!?

    I have been able to transfer my current account across to HSBC (and they pay me £150 for doing so - thanks for that MSE)... I still have a mortgage which is linked to my (terminating) other accounts in an offset arrangement and that has 12 years to run.

    I had wondered whether my account had been hacked or my identity stolen (i.e. getting paranoid) but there does not seem to be anything to support that theory... could it be something to do with impending GDPR? Perhaps they just don't like me... I have no idea!

    Illumination/advice required please.
Page 2
    • John Galt
    • By John Galt 10th Apr 18, 5:25 PM
    • 9 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    John Galt
    John,
    When all this is done and dusted, and hopefully you've got an acceptable outcome, please speak to your MP about this matter. As legislation currently stands, and as numerous posters on this site will revel in telling you, the bank does not have to do business with you. However, not doing business with you when you're not a customer, and closing your accounts when you are a customer, are two different things. You wouldn't expect your energy provider to be able to "stop doing business with you", so why should the banks be able to get away with this? At the very least they should be forced to furnish customers with a reason for closure, and ideally they should not be allowed to close an account if T&Cs contiune to be met. See if your MP is sympathetic to legislative changes that might regulate this cavalier behaviour on the part of the banks.
    Originally posted by tenchy
    Agreed with this - my plan is to start with the ombudsman (once I have exhausted routes with bank staff) and then contact my MP. Whilst I accept the bank has the right to refuse my custom (which is their loss, not mine as I am a model customer - stable, responsible and low risk), they have effectively told me I am guilty of something and used that to terminate my account without explaining the alledged crime - it serves only to make one feel quite vulnerable and, if there is a legitimate reason then I am in no position to defend/rectify etc.

    I managed to see anoher member of the Barclays customer team today - she tried hard on my behalf but hit a brick wall too - she is as confused/concerned as I am. She spoke to her manager and they both suggested I approach the ombudsman - is this madness or just me?
    • John Galt
    • By John Galt 10th Apr 18, 5:33 PM
    • 9 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    John Galt
    Do your credit balances tend to exceed mortgage balance?

    I wonder whether to offset mortgage is their driver.
    Originally posted by PeacefulWaters
    Yes they do - I had the same thought (in the quest for answers and many other possible explanations) but that means they can use my money to loan someone else (i.e. the fundamental way banks work).
    • jonesMUFCforever
    • By jonesMUFCforever 10th Apr 18, 8:28 PM
    • 25,075 Posts
    • 12,331 Thanks
    jonesMUFCforever
    OP Forget the notion that they are closing your accounts due to not making enough money out of you.
    Something that has gone through your accounts has spooked them - you may well be an innocent victim or perhaps you have been making transactions deemed businesslike through a personal account.
    What goes around - comes around
    give lots and you will always receive lots
    • John-K
    • By John-K 10th Apr 18, 8:46 PM
    • 654 Posts
    • 1,017 Thanks
    John-K
    However, not doing business with you when you're not a customer, and closing your accounts when you are a customer, are two different things. You wouldn't expect your energy provider to be able to "stop doing business with you", so why should the banks be able to get away with this?
    Originally posted by tenchy
    I find this sense of entitlement quite baffling, and wonder where it comes from. Of course companies can stop doing business with you, and of course it is reasonable.

    Why should anyone have to have you as a customer if they don!!!8217;t want you.

    To see how ridiculous your way of thinking is, turn it around, would you find it acceptable if a company said that despite having no contract with them you had to keep using their services?

    Had you contracted with the bank for a fixed term, you!!!8217;d have a good point.

    You haven!!!8217;t, so you are being silly.
    • tenchy
    • By tenchy 10th Apr 18, 9:22 PM
    • 360 Posts
    • 114 Thanks
    tenchy
    I find this sense of entitlement quite baffling, and wonder where it comes from. Of course companies can stop doing business with you, and of course it is reasonable.

    Why should anyone have to have you as a customer if they don!!!8217;t want you.

    To see how ridiculous your way of thinking is, turn it around, would you find it acceptable if a company said that despite having no contract with them you had to keep using their services?

    Had you contracted with the bank for a fixed term, you!!!8217;d have a good point.

    You haven!!!8217;t, so you are being silly.
    Originally posted by John-K

    If you can't come up with something better than that, then don't try. If you stop to think about the situation with banks, and clearly you haven't, you'd realise that the relationship between a bank and its customers is not quite the same as that between other businesses and their customers. Why, for instance, are energy companies not permitted to ditch customers in the way banks are currently allowed to? There's a reason, so try and work it out. Calling someone "silly" just because they have a point of view at odds with your own is intellectually weak.
    • RG2015
    • By RG2015 10th Apr 18, 9:42 PM
    • 1,301 Posts
    • 766 Thanks
    RG2015
    This is unacceptable. Legislation should be brought in requiring banks to provide the reason for closing a personal account.
    • camelot1971
    • By camelot1971 10th Apr 18, 9:44 PM
    • 869 Posts
    • 1,303 Thanks
    camelot1971
    If you can't come up with something better than that, then don't try. If you stop to think about the situation with banks, and clearly you haven't, you'd realise that the relationship between a bank and its customers is not quite the same as that between other businesses and their customers. Why, for instance, are energy companies not permitted to ditch customers in the way banks are currently allowed to? There's a reason, so try and work it out. Calling someone "silly" just because they have a point of view at odds with your own is intellectually weak.
    Originally posted by tenchy
    Your post comes across as smug and patronising. You obviously haven't thought about the relationship between banks and their customers either. If you had, you would realise that the relationship is the same as most other businesses.

    The vast majority of companies, including banks, can refuse to do business with you. Energy and water companies are different, and quite rightly so, but banking is not a right.

    Now, you can 'force' a bank to accept you for a basic account if you can't get facilities elsewhere, but even then, if you are suspected of money laundering or fraud you won't get an account anywhere (and quite right too).

    Banks are a commercial enterprise and not a charity. If a customer is not profitable, why should they keep your account open? If a bank was costing you money every month, would you be happy to not have the option to move?
    • tenchy
    • By tenchy 10th Apr 18, 9:52 PM
    • 360 Posts
    • 114 Thanks
    tenchy
    Your post comes across as smug and patronising. You obviously haven't thought about the relationship between banks and their customers either. If you had, you would realise that the relationship is the same as most other businesses.

    The vast majority of companies, including banks, can refuse to do business with you. Energy and water companies are different, and quite rightly so, but banking is not a right.

    Now, you can 'force' a bank to accept you for a basic account if you can't get facilities elsewhere, but even then, if you are suspected of money laundering or fraud you won't get an account anywhere (and quite right too).

    Banks are a commercial enterprise and not a charity. If a customer is not profitable, why should they keep your account open? If a bank was costing you money every month, would you be happy to not have the option to move?
    Originally posted by camelot1971
    Well that would be like the one it responded to, wouldn't it?
    • EachPenny
    • By EachPenny 10th Apr 18, 11:07 PM
    • 6,107 Posts
    • 16,054 Thanks
    EachPenny
    Banks are a commercial enterprise and not a charity. If a customer is not profitable, why should they keep your account open? If a bank was costing you money every month, would you be happy to not have the option to move?
    Originally posted by camelot1971
    The problem with that logic is that if banks decide to close all non-profitable accounts we may end up in a position where the only people with bank accounts are those who manage them poorly and incur fees and charges, or those who are willing to pay their bank for overpriced products like insurance.

    If the issue is people's accounts not being profitable, then banks should offer to provide the service on a fee basis, rather than closing accounts with no justification or explanation required.

    Having to change bank can cause considerable upheaval, and for some customers great difficulty - what about people living in towns where there is only one bank branch for example? If that bank decides it no longer wants you as a customer due to profitability then you could face a long journey to the next nearest bank. And what's to stop a 'last bank in town' closing all the accounts of customers using the branch to then be able to claim the branch is no longer required?

    Retail banking is a regulated business, unlike the typical company which is free to pick and choose who it does business with. It is a failure of that regulation process that banks are allowed to simply close people's accounts without needing to have a good reason.
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
    • John-K
    • By John-K 10th Apr 18, 11:44 PM
    • 654 Posts
    • 1,017 Thanks
    John-K
    If you can't come up with something better than that, then don't try. If you stop to think about the situation with banks, and clearly you haven't, you'd realise that the relationship between a bank and its customers is not quite the same as that between other businesses and their customers. Why, for instance, are energy companies not permitted to ditch customers in the way banks are currently allowed to? There's a reason, so try and work it out. Calling someone "silly" just because they have a point of view at odds with your own is intellectually weak.
    Originally posted by tenchy
    It was an apt word for someone inventing obligations that the banks simply do not have.

    I can see that youíd like them to be obliged to keep customers on, but that doesnít make it a fact. You do understand this, donít you, that your desire and the current state of affairs is not the same thing?

    I happen to think that what you want is ridiculous, by the way. Banks should be able to close accounts for any reason they pick other than for protected characteristics.

    People need to stop thinking that banks are there to act as a utility, or in loco oarentis. They are companies, and some people are simply not the sort of customer that they want.
    • John-K
    • By John-K 10th Apr 18, 11:46 PM
    • 654 Posts
    • 1,017 Thanks
    John-K
    Well that would be like the one it responded to, wouldn't it?
    Originally posted by tenchy
    I responded to your ludicrous post far more politely than was justified.

    Your sense of entitlement is quite strange, and I canít imagine that itís served you well in life. You seem to be offended at companies not fawning over you.
    • AstroTurtle
    • By AstroTurtle 11th Apr 18, 12:43 PM
    • 195 Posts
    • 618 Thanks
    AstroTurtle
    This is unacceptable. Legislation should be brought in requiring banks to provide the reason for closing a personal account.
    Originally posted by RG2015

    There is actually a lot of Legislation that says that banks cannot tip off people if they are suspected of criminal activity.


    You are operating under the assumption that banks have the time and resources to close peoples accounts for no reason.. If anything banks are required to have a certain amount of customers within each current account bracket including non-profitable customers.


    it is likely that the OP has perhaps had a lot of chargebacks against his name maybe without his knowledge, Payments from accounts that have been confirmed as fraud. Potential money laundering risks. All of which could be without OP's knowledge but the Bank isn't allowed to confirm these until any external investigation is complete. In the mean time they can cease the relationship.
    • Chalkius
    • By Chalkius 11th Apr 18, 2:24 PM
    • 107 Posts
    • 67 Thanks
    Chalkius
    @John Galt - could it be anything to do with this? Can you recall ever being asked to confirm information by Barclays and you haven't done it?

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5708407
    Originally posted by 8i6daddy
    I'd be seconding this as a possible reason. I used to work for them, and people who did not update this were at risk of getting their accounts closed as it would mean Barclays didn't have up to date information which they're legally required to. And they will have sent numerous reminders. Or at least should have.
    • RG2015
    • By RG2015 11th Apr 18, 5:32 PM
    • 1,301 Posts
    • 766 Thanks
    RG2015
    This is unacceptable. Legislation should be brought in requiring banks to provide the reason for closing a personal account.
    Originally posted by RG2015
    There is actually a lot of Legislation that says that banks cannot tip off people if they are suspected of criminal activity.

    You are operating under the assumption that banks have the time and resources to close peoples accounts for no reason.. If anything banks are required to have a certain amount of customers within each current account bracket including non-profitable customers.

    it is likely that the OP has perhaps had a lot of chargebacks against his name maybe without his knowledge, Payments from accounts that have been confirmed as fraud. Potential money laundering risks. All of which could be without OP's knowledge but the Bank isn't allowed to confirm these until any external investigation is complete. In the mean time they can cease the relationship.
    Originally posted by AstroTurtle
    You are suggesting that people having their accounts closed without a reason may be suspected of criminal activity even if it is without their knowledge? People suspected of criminal activity should be investigated by the police.

    Therefore I would expect the police to be informed. Or are the police happy for the banks to investigate and close any account where criminal activity is suspected?

    If this is the case, it is worrying that the authorities allow innocent victims to be treated in this way.

    PS: I have never heard of a case where the banks have come clean and given a reason to an innocent victim after an investigation.
    Last edited by RG2015; 11-04-2018 at 6:05 PM.
    • Thrugelmir
    • By Thrugelmir 11th Apr 18, 5:37 PM
    • 59,522 Posts
    • 52,825 Thanks
    Thrugelmir
    If this is the case, it is worrying that the authorities allow innocent victims to be treated in this way.
    Originally posted by RG2015
    Before jumping to any conclusions one needs the full facts. Not just from one party. As customers we all pay for the operational costs of the banks. In one form or another.
    Financial disasters happen when the last person who can remember what went wrong last time has left the building.
    • RG2015
    • By RG2015 11th Apr 18, 5:44 PM
    • 1,301 Posts
    • 766 Thanks
    RG2015
    Before jumping to any conclusions one needs the full facts. Not just from one party. As customers we all pay for the operational costs of the banks. In one form or another.
    Originally posted by Thrugelmir
    It is not really about operational costs, but more about treating people with respect and dignity.

    PS: Are we happy that banks can now act as police, judge, jury and executioner?
    Last edited by RG2015; 11-04-2018 at 5:46 PM.
    • PeacefulWaters
    • By PeacefulWaters 11th Apr 18, 5:54 PM
    • 8,318 Posts
    • 10,667 Thanks
    PeacefulWaters
    Therefore I would expect the police to be informed. Or are the police happy for the banks to investigate and close any account where criminal activity is suspected.
    How do you know police haven't been informed? Or aren't investigating?
    • RG2015
    • By RG2015 11th Apr 18, 6:14 PM
    • 1,301 Posts
    • 766 Thanks
    RG2015
    Therefore I would expect the police to be informed. Or are the police happy for the banks to investigate and close any account where criminal activity is suspected?
    Originally posted by RG2015
    How do you know police haven't been informed? Or aren't investigating?
    Originally posted by PeacefulWaters
    I am not saying that the police are neither informed nor investigating.

    But if they were being investigated by the police surely the holder of the closed bank account should be informed at some point. I believe that a suspect has a right of reply.

    But I have never heard of any such (innocent) suspect being contacted by the police at any point in any investigation.
    • PeacefulWaters
    • By PeacefulWaters 11th Apr 18, 6:22 PM
    • 8,318 Posts
    • 10,667 Thanks
    PeacefulWaters
    I am not saying that the police are neither informed nor investigating.

    But if they were being investigated by the police surely the holder of the closed bank account should be informed at some point. I believe that a suspect has a right of reply.

    But I have never heard of any such (innocent) suspect being contacted by the police at any point in any investigation.
    Originally posted by RG2015
    If a bank staff member has the slightest suspicion of money laundering they have to report it. They cannot in any way tip off the customer. Tipping off carries a heavy prison sentence.

    The right to reply only comes if the police bring in the suspect for questioning.

    If a bank is informed that there is insufficient evidence they can choose to close an account but revealing the reason as suspected money laundering would still mean possible prison time for bank staff.

    Granted, there are other reasons why accounts may be closed. But giving reasons for those and saying nothing to a suspected money launderer would rather give the game away, don't you think?
    • RG2015
    • By RG2015 11th Apr 18, 9:33 PM
    • 1,301 Posts
    • 766 Thanks
    RG2015
    If a bank staff member has the slightest suspicion of money laundering they have to report it. They cannot in any way tip off the customer. Tipping off carries a heavy prison sentence.

    The right to reply only comes if the police bring in the suspect for questioning.

    If a bank is informed that there is insufficient evidence they can choose to close an account but revealing the reason as suspected money laundering would still mean possible prison time for bank staff.

    Granted, there are other reasons why accounts may be closed. But giving reasons for those and saying nothing to a suspected money launderer would rather give the game away, don't you think?
    Originally posted by PeacefulWaters
    Thank you for your answer which is very informative.

    Just for clarity I will summarise my understanding of the process as you have described. I am also quite happy to accept your statements regarding possible prison sentences for bank staff.

    1. A bank staff member has suspicion of money laundering and reports it to the relevant department in the bank.
    2. The bank decide that there is some possible substance to the suggestion of money laundering.
    3. The bank informs the police who investigate the issue but decide that there is insufficient evidence and inform the bank of this.
    4. The bank decide to close the bank account but cannot reveal the reason for fear of possible prison time.
    5. There is insufficient evidence for the police to instigate any criminal proceedings but the bank account holder has had their account closed. They do not know why and at no point are they aware that the police have investigated them so have never had any right of reply.
    6. The justification for never giving a reason is that it would give the game away to the suspected money launderer.

    I do have one further question which is whether a bank ever decides to close an account before the police investigation is concluded?

    I would understand if you declined to answer for fear of falling foul of the AML legislation.
    Last edited by RG2015; 11-04-2018 at 10:25 PM.
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