Banks won’t have to deal with complaints about unauthorised overdraft charges for another six months.
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has extended the waiver on banks dealing with such claims until July 2009.
The waiver was due to expire on January 26, 2009 but since a test case is ongoing and it is unclear how banks will have to deal with these complaints the FSA has made the decision to extend it.
It means that any bank or building society that’s signed up to it will not be required to handle this type of complaint within the limits set out in FSA rules.
By the time the waiver expires, some claimants will have had to wait for two years to see if they’ll get their money back.
But Which? has raised serious concerns that some people are being hit hard by the delay in dealing with the cases.
Which? personal finance campaigns manager Doug Taylor warned: ‘An increasing number of people are finding themselves in serious financial difficulty so banks must be made to deal with genuine hardship cases, as set out in the waiver.
‘The FSA must be vigilant and monitor banks’ behaviour.’
Banks keep on charging
Despite the waiver on banks’ handling of claims being extended, they can still level charges on accounts that go into the red that aren’t authorised to do so.
That means that people can still incur costs that may be unfair, without any hope of being able to reclaim them in the immediate future.
In July 2008, Which? welcomed a move by the FSA to define hardship cases which meant banks and building societies were obliged to look carefully at the situation of customers who claimed to be in financial difficulty as a result of the imposition of charges.
Doug Taylor has advised customers they should not shy away from dealing with problems resulting from mounting charges: ‘If you feel that your bank charges are causing you financial hardship then do contact your bank,’ he said.
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