A joint bank account with an ex-partner has left my credit score in tatters | The Sun

MUM-OF-FOUR Rebecca Eggleton stood frozen as she opened a letter from a debt collection company demanding money for an account that she had closed three years ago.

The 39-year-old had no idea that a NatWest joint bank account with her ex-partner had not been closed properly.

This led to a dramatic drop in her credit score, followed by her credit card lenders dramatically cutting her limits by £5,250 and one store card even being cancelled.

The 39-year-old family reconnection officer said: "It was terrifying getting the letter in the post with birthdays and Christmas around the corner.

"And to make matters worse the credit card companies immediately cut the amount of money that I could spend."

Her Capital One credit card had its limit reduced from £1,950 to £500, Barclays from £2,000 to £350, Next from £2,500 to £350 and Ms Eggleton had an Ikano store card cancelled.

This had an immediate effect on her day-to-day life, as Rebecca always paid off her credit cards in full each month but often uses them for everyday spending.

She said: "It was incredibly upsetting to have to change what we normally did all because of NatWest's negligence."

In 2019, Rebecca was wrongly told by the bank that her name was removed from the joint bank account.

She said: "I'd gone straight to my branch and removed my name from the account as soon as I split up from my partner.

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"But in May 2022, I started receiving letters from a debt collection agency on behalf of NatWest because the account was overdrawn."

The account became overdrawn because it still automatically processed its monthly fees.

Rebecca had no idea that by April 2022 the account had a racked up £292.07 in debt and was only alerted to the issue when a debt collection letter fell on her doormat demanding payment.

She complained to NatWest and the bank removed her name from the account. wiped the debt and offered her £100 compensation.

It said it had sent a note to the credit reference agencies to ensure the red mark was removed from her file.

But Rebecca says that her credit score is still damaged after the debacle.

She has chosen to reject the offer of compensation and has now complained to the Financial Ombudsman.

A NatWest spokesperson said: "We should have done better and we sincerely apologise to Rebecca.

"We are speaking to her and will be offering suitable compensation."

Thousands of people have joint bank accounts which they share with a partner – but when relationships break up things can go wrong.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) does not have specific rules regulating the operation of joint bank accounts.

But its guidance states that banks must treat customers fairly in situations like breakdowns.

An FCA spokesperson said: "Dealing with the fallout of relationship breakdown is difficult enough and when people are at their most vulnerable we expect firms to treat customers fairly and communicate with them in a way that is clear, fair and not misleading."

The Financial Ombudsmen Service refused to comment on Rebecca's case as their investigation remains ongoing.

How do I close my bank account?

You can close most bank accounts whenever you like without being charged.

It’s usually just a case of getting in touch with your bank.

You'll need to visit your local branch, submit a written cancellation request or call your bank's customer service helpline.

If you’re overdrawn, you’ll have to pay off what you owe before the account can be closed.

You'll also need to settle any fees and transfer or withdraw any remaining cash in the account before it can be closed.

How do I complain to my bank?

Banks are required to have a written complaints process that tells helps customers how to make a complaint.

You should be able to find the information on their website but if you don't, ask them to send it to you.

It's worth making your complaint as soon as possible, as it'll be easier to remember all the relevant details to strengthen your case.

Then simply follow each stage of the process, and submit as much evidence as you can.

Once you've sent in your complaint, the firm needs to give you a response within eight weeks.

If you don't get a response within eight weeks or you're not happy with the one you do get, you can take your complaint to the free Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

How do I take my complaint to the Financial Ombudsman?

If you decide to take your complaint to the FOS, keep in mind you must typically do so within six months of your provider's final response.

To get in touch, you need to fill in a form, which you can find on the FOS website.

If you'd prefer to talk it through with someone, the FOS can help you do this if you call 0800 023 4567.

When you get in touch, you need to have the following details to hand:

  • Some basic information, including your name and address
  • What the problem is, and how you want things put right
  • Details such as the policy number or account number that your complaint relates to

The FOS will then look at the evidence provided by both sides, and it may contact you for more information.

Once it's made a decision, it'll write to you and if it agrees with your complaint, it'll say what your bank or credit card firm must do to put things right.

What about small claims courts?

If you decide to take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman (FOS), keep in mind you must typically do so within six months of your provider's final response.

To get in touch, you need to fill in a form, which you can find on the FOS website or simply complete the online complaint form.

If you'd prefer to talk it through with someone, the FOS can help you do this if you call 0800 023 4567.

When you get in touch, you need to have the following details to hand:

  • Some basic information, including your name and address
  • What the problem is, and how you want things put right
  • Details such as the policy number or account number that your complaint relates to

The FOS will then look at the evidence provided by both sides, and it may contact you for more information.

What about small claims courts?

If all else fails and you still think you're entitled to compensation you can try taking your bank to the small claims court.

To start the process, you'll need to fill out an online form through the Gov.uk website for claims being made in England and Wales.

This isn't a free process, so you'll want to try and get your money back by contacting the company, and then any free arbitrator or complaints scheme first.

The small claims court costs between £25 and £410 for an online claim, depending on how much money you're trying to recoup.

But if you win, you should be able to claim these costs back.

If you lose, you won't get these fees back and you could end up paying some of the other side's costs too.

It costs more to send a paper form to the courts, so you'll pay less by submitting an online claim.

The small claims court is typically for claims worth £10,000 or less.

You'll want to make sure you submit as much evidence as possible to back up your claim.

Once you've started the process, the business or individual must respond. You'll be sent an email or letter with a deadline for when you can expect this.

If you don't get a response, you'll need to request a judgment if you made your claim online.

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If the person or business denies owing money, or you disagree with their response, you might have to go to a court hearing.

You can also appeal the decision if you think the judge made a mistake during the hearing. You must do this within 21 days of getting the decision.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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