Everyone is tightening their belt recently, with grocery shopping prices increasing and petrol costs soaring, so it is no surprise that banks are not lending out loans or dishing out the credit cards with such free abandon as they used to. You may also find that you are getting higher than normal charges for going over your overdraft and for returned direct debits.
This is only one of the ways banks are trying to recuperate their losses and retain some of the billions of pounds of profit they made last year. It used to be quite simple to reclaim these charges and banks would take a fairly sensible attitude to customers who mistakenly went over their limit. These days it is much harder to get to speak to someone, let alone get a response to a letter. So how can you get them to take you seriously?
Well, there are some new rules that have to take into consideration people who have exceptional circumstances. If you can prove that you are genuinely suffering from financial hardship, banks have to treat you fairly and be considerate as all the major players have signed up a standard banking regulation.
Your first course of action is to note down all charges made against you over a three year period and consider if they were unfair or not.
Do not be tempted to ask your bank for statements as these will cost you up to £10 each but you can ask for charge transactions or look online if you have online banking. Next, draft a letter to the bank and ask them to refund the charges and tell them why you consider them to be unfair. Inform them of how much the charges have affected you financially as this is most important.
You have to appeal to them on a human level but keep the letter professional. Things the bank will need to know are; how you are struggling to make loan and credit card repayments, if you cannot meet your important payments such as utilities and mortgages or rent, and if your circumstances have changed dramatically, such as a redundancy or illness that has had a serious effect on your income.
Also if the charges the bank are levying onto your account create more charges and this has a knock on effect, keeping you in debt. Other considerations are if you frequently have to borrow money from pay day loan sites or get cash withdrawals from your credit card. These are all symptoms of financial hardship and the new rules state they have to look at your case and be sympathetic.
It may take more than one letter to get your case heard and many banks have a policy of rejecting first claims so do not give up. Banks will typically ask you to fill in a financial statement form so get that posted off in time and keep a record of your correspondence and dates and times of calls. If your claim is repeatedly rejected, send one last letter informing them that you are writing to the Financial Ombudsman and considering court action, give them a time limit to reply and if you do not hear then pursue through these channels. You never know, you may be successful