Tony Hetherington is the Financial Mail on Sunday’s outstanding detective, battling readers’ corners, uncovering the truth behind closed doors and delivering victories for those left out of pocket. Find out how to contact him below.
Mystery: HSBC has closed Reader’s flats account
PH writes: I’m from the signatory on an account with HSBC, which was set up decades ago to cover the maintenance expenses of four flats on the property where I live. I got a message from HSBC saying he needed to confirm some of our ‘business details’ in a procedure called ‘protection’.
I provided the details online and she thanked me, but then I got another message that seemed to repeat the first one.
However, I completed the details again, but then the bank told me that our account would be closed because, as HSBC said, I had failed to provide the required information.
Tony Hetherington replies: HSBC claims its Security Review is intended to protect customers from fraud, but time after time, readers have told me that no matter how hard they try to cooperate with the long list of questions asked and evidence required, HSBC ends up dumping them and closing their accounts. account. Small accounts belonging to clubs and community groups appear particularly vulnerable, with customers claiming HSBC simply does not want their business.
The results can be unfortunate. You told me you had called HSBC trying to keep your account open, and were told a six digit code would be mailed, but nothing arrived. I then paid two bills by check, one to a contractor for £94 and one to the building insurance company for £1440. Both bounced back, because HSBC closed the account. This left you and the other apartment owners without insurance, and caused you some personal embarrassment as you are a local attorney.
I opened a new account with NatWest, but HSBC refused to transfer the £5,000 plus frozen in the closed account. Armed with your signed authority, I have asked HSBC to comment, to confirm the details of your call requesting account retention, and to allow me to obtain a copy of your protection history so I can see what you have not answered.
That was in May. That’s right – May last year. Since then, there has been a virtual wrestling match between me and HSBC. The small victory was that HSBC released the account balance and even offered £200 as a matter of saying sorry. It claimed to have sent you the code to keep the account, but HSBC refused point blank to let me see the security questions, “for security reasons”. However, the bank has detected a corporate issue at your address.
I had to threaten HSBC with legal action to get his records on you, before he finally sent a copy of his security questionnaire directly to you but not to me. You then passed the 11-page document to me and I scanned it to find out why the bank refused your answers. And there wasn’t: a large space titled ‘reason for refusal from HSBC’ – completely empty.
Leave this mystery to your title based company. What was this company? Does HSBC mean your home address or your law firm’s address? HSBC told me that “a separate, unrelated company with the same address has been found”. But what does that have to do with your apartment landlords account?
While I was critical of the questions to HSBC, the Financial Ombudsman Service was also investigating and told HSBC to increase the apology payment to £300, which it did. But I have to look at what you said to me about a year ago: ‘I get the impression that HSBC’s only focus is account closure’. It’s hard to disagree.
It will take years
Mrs. MR writes: My uncle left nearly £1.2m in his will, of which I am one of the beneficiaries.
He died in February 2020 and the estate was taken over by W Davies Solicitors of Woking in April of that year.
Later, they asked for some of the information I provided, and said it should be clarified by December 2020, but still said the drug was ‘in progress’.
By the end of 2021, lawyers had identified 28 beneficiaries, with more to be confirmed
Tony Hetherington replies: I got a copy of your uncle’s will from the probate registry, and I ended up sympathizing with the lawyers as much as I do with you. Wills did some definite bequests, after which everything else–the rest–was left to his wife, your aunt.
But she died a year before your uncle, with his will that the remainder in this case should be divided between your aunt’s brothers and sisters, and if they died, then their share would go to their children.
Your aunt had ten brothers and sisters, but your uncle’s will didn’t give details of any of them, which left lawyers with the task of getting lots of birth, marriage, and death certificates, and keeping track of everyone involved.
By the end of 2021, lawyers had identified 28 beneficiaries, with more to be confirmed. Since I first contacted them several months ago, they agreed to pay half of all expected amounts, and I have received over £22,000. Frustrated, yes, but the executors would be reckless to empty the estate, only to face a claim from a previously unknown beneficiary.
The delay in paying compensation is tragic
Ms. RM writes: My daughter died suddenly last April. After she found Sun Life Financial of Canada’s personal pension statement in her papers, she reported to the company last June and provided a provisional death certificate as her death had been referred to the coroner.
In August, the company said it had a claims backlog. In October, I asked for the final death certificate, which I sent.
In November, I complained and was told I would be contacted in five days, but that didn’t happen.
Transferring 470,000 records was not entirely successful, which meant that some values had to be calculated manually.
Tony Hetherington replies: She contacted me after finding that I had reported a similar issue last October. After that, the company admitted responsibility, saying in 2021 that it had moved its policy management services to a new system.
This transfer of 470,000 records was not entirely successful, meaning some values had to be calculated manually, resulting in a backlog. However, this should not prevent your payment.
He told me, “Ms. M’s example is particularly unfortunate as we had to pay this claim in July 2022.” I have now paid you £31,571, plus £748 in interest, plus £700 in apologies. You’re investing this for your teenage daughter’s son.
If you believe you have been a victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY or email email@example.com. Due to the high volume of inquiries, personal responses cannot be given. Please send copies of original documents only, which we regret cannot be returned.
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