The Post Office has been turning down customers for its savings accounts if it is unable to immediately verify their identity – refusing to give applicants the chance to provide supplementary proof of their ID.
The Which? Money Helpline has had calls from members who have been refused Post Office accounts without being given a chance to prove their identity.
When Jackie Smith from Bury St Edmunds was turned down for an Online Saver account, the Post Office told her this was due to the failure of an online identity check it had done with credit reference agency Experian. This is a method banks often use to verify an applicant’s identity and address, as it should give them an ‘authentication score’ for the applicant.
It told her to speak to Experian about this.
Post office policy hits savers
Jackie applied to Experian to view her credit report online but could not see any anomalies in the data.
The Post Office did not give her a chance to prove her details by providing her passport or a utility bill, despite its website saying it may ask for documentation as proof if online verification is not possible. Carol Faulkner from Penrith was also turned down for a Growth Bond despite already showing her documents in branch.
Steve Taylor from Worcester applied for an Online Saver for his mother-in-law. She was initially turned down because of the Experian check, but when he tried again she was accepted.
A Post Office spokesman said: ‘We currently ask for documents when a customer gets a low authentication score through Experian, but not if it can’t find an applicant’s record. This may be because they mis-keyed their address details when completing the application.’
Getting the best savings account
Which? savings expert Paul Davies says: ‘At Which?, we think banks should always ask applicants to provide documents instead when online verification fails. It’s a shame that the Post Office has failed to do so for these customers.
‘If you’re looking to open a new savings account and feel concerned that this kind of problem might arise for you, take preemptive action. Get a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reference agencies – Callcredit, Equifax and Experian – for £2 each to check how your details are recorded.
‘If there are mistakes, contact the agency and ensure these are corrected. Our online guide to Credit reports explains how to do this.
‘Meanwhile, before opening a savings account make sure you’ve thoroughly compared the market’s top deals. The Which? Savings accounts review will help with this.’
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