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    • Hope this is OK - copy of letter 18th Nov County Court Details.pdf
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Declined access to my first direct account while abroad. Am I being reasonable


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Just over a month ago, I spent five days in Ireland, travelling around. I made several withdrawals from cashpoints using my First Direct issued Maestro card to pay for accommodation, food etc. This was the fourth time I had been in Ireland in the previous four months. When I returned, I found a message on my answerphone from the bank requesting that I call them urgently, followed by a letter the morning after I returned to say that if I didn't contact them, they would stop access to my account until I have confirmed a number of transactions with me.

 

This concerned me greatly, as had I not returned when i did, it was likely that I would have been left with no access to cash in a foreign country and told them that it was unacceptable. I also told them that I made several trips to Ireland which they could confirm simply by viewing my account statements (containing withdrawals from Irish cashpoints, numerous bookings with Ryanair, hotel payments in Ireland etc) and that far from forming a suspicious pattern of spending, such withdrawals were actually the norm. I also advised both the call centre, and the fraud detection department that I was due to make several more trips and that under no circumstances were they to interfere with my account and leave me without access to money.

 

So on Monday of this week, I turn up at Dublin's Heuston station ATM, having just arrived from Bristol and try to withdraw €220 from my account to fund the next three days, only to be told "we are temporarily unable to authorise this transaction" Two of the three ATM's were out of action, so I thought this my be a temporary glitch. Due to catch an 11.20 train to Galway for the afternoon, I try and buy a book in the station bookshop and pay by switch. That transaction was declined, but my Visa card was accepted. So now I knew that it wasn't a software fault causing the glitch. Instead of catching a train as planned, I had to return back into Dublin City Centre to get advice from an HSBC branch, only to be told that there aren't any. Fortunately, the bank I enquired at allowed me to contact First Direct at their cost. On contacting the call centre I was put through to fraud security, only to be told that my account had been stopped because of a suspicious pattern of activity! With the next Galway train not being until 14.20, by the time I had sorted this out, my plans for the day were in ruins.

 

Since returning this morning, I have spoken to First Direct fraud security, and one of their Assistant Managers. There is a record of the conversations that I had with both the call centre and fraud security divisions last month, but nothing on my file regarding my advise last month that I would be making several future journeys. She is now listening to the tapes of those conversations.

 

I've told them that I want £50 to compensate for the loss of day one of a three day trip while I sorted out an error which should never have happened. I had not only advised them of travel plans, but their allegation of suspicious patterns of spending is nonsense, since the last time I had used the card was at Bristol Airport that morning to access the car park. That in itself should have told them I was going somewhere.

 

Has anyone else had this problem and how have they got around it on future trips abroad, and am I being reasonable in demanding compensation?

MBNA - Agreed to refund £970 in full without conditions. Cheque received Sat 5th Aug.:D

Lloyds - Settled for an undisclosed sum.:D

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Glad to see I'm not the only one.

 

I object to telling my bank when or where I am going on holiday. I don't tell my parents, so why should my bank get preferential treatment. First Direct's own advertising on their website states that a Maestro card can be used in any one of 560,000 cash machines abroad. There is no codicile to say (providing you tell us where you are going first), so I may well take it up with trading standards as well. As you say, it costs a fortune to make calls from abroad, and I do not carry a mobile phone either, which would normally mean making International calls from payphones. That's if you have enough money on you!

MBNA - Agreed to refund £970 in full without conditions. Cheque received Sat 5th Aug.:D

Lloyds - Settled for an undisclosed sum.:D

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Im not trying to pour cold water over your grievence but i was just wondering what you would say if your card was stollen and used in different places and the bank did nothing. Surely they are trying to protect you (and themselves) from possible fraud. Even if you do tell them where you are going does that stop your card being stollen. I just hope that if my card ever gets stillen they are as quick to stop transactions that they seem to be doing to you.

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Based on that supposition, banks can surely view every and all transactions as fraudulent. That's what PIN no's are supposed to be for. To prove that you have authority to use the card. If they can't trust their own security system, they have a major problem.

 

I can, to a point, understand if there was a genuine pattern of unrelated withdrawals on my card. However, in this instance it was the first time that I had attempted to use my card on this trip, and even they conceeded that I had a record of transactions in Ireland, and that my card had been used that morning at Bristol Airport to access the long stay car park!

 

Common sense is required and that is what is lacking. For information, if I wanted to go and do some major shopping, I would go to Dublin over London any day. It's cheaper to fly to Dublin than catch the train to London for me. Does this mean that in future, if my card is used in London it will be stopped as it may be a fraudulent transaction.

 

Where do you draw the line between security and instant access to MY FUNDS which they are borrowing and making money out of.

MBNA - Agreed to refund £970 in full without conditions. Cheque received Sat 5th Aug.:D

Lloyds - Settled for an undisclosed sum.:D

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Im not trying to pour cold water over your grievence but i was just wondering what you would say if your card was stollen and used in different places and the bank did nothing. Surely they are trying to protect you (and themselves) from possible fraud. Even if you do tell them where you are going does that stop your card being stollen. I just hope that if my card ever gets stillen they are as quick to stop transactions that they seem to be doing to you.

 

I have to agree with Roy on this one, I understand that you wouldnt want to tell the bank where you are going however if someone were to steal and use your card fraudulently it would be another story - like roy said they're trying to protect your funds aswell as themselves!

 

Hope you enjoyed Ireland bar that though :)

 

Nathe

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

UNTIL MY CASES ARE RESOLVED/WON IM GOING TO KEEP MY SIGNATURE BLANK AS IM AWARE THE BANKS TEND TO TRAWL ON SOME OF THESE FORUMS AND AS MY CASE IS A LITTLE COMPLEX IT WOULD BE EASILY SPOTTED

 

DONT WORRY - THE INFO SHALL RETURN ONCE THE CASE IS RESOLVED/WON

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That would be true if it worked that way, but it doesn't.

 

When my card was cloned last year, the bank let through transaction from the ELC in Swindon, where I have never set foot in my life, yet in the past blocked transactions in Calais or Lyon, despite the fact that all the info they have on me clearly shows I'm French. Where's the sense in that?

Worse, when my card got cloned, the thieves used it to set up an AOL account (so besmirching my good name as well as stealing from me! ;-)), and despite the card being stopped and replaced etc, it took 4 MONTHS for them to finally block the payments!

 

The fact that you're abroad does not justify the stopping of the card, far from it. If your card gets stolen, the thieves are much more likely to stay in the UK than hop on a plane for a quick shopping trip at your expense! So systematically treating the foreign transactions as suspect is a crock, frankly.

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The problem isn't uniform - the security measure adopted by different companies vary wildly - one has a 'out of UK' flag that decrements daily until my return. In the end it was actually easier for me to open a bank account with the AIB in Dublin after various hassles - that had the additional benefit of providing me with access to euros for any other Euro-land transaction - it was the best (and cheapest) way of playing htre banks at their own game!

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I'm with the Lloyds and travel extensively as part of my job, they've yet to stop a cash withdrawl even when I managed to withdraw cash from Singapore, Perth and Singapore again in 24 hours! On that trip 2 of my collegues had problems with their banks blocking their cards. I use the Nationwide now when abroad (they don't charge handling fees) and they seem OK as well.

Lloyds TSB, Total Charges £900, Claim Filed for £1379 - Settled

 

Sainsbury's Bank Credit Card, Total Charges £90 - Settled.

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