HSBC customers are understandably confused in England after they went to the bank to withdraw their money only to be told that any large withdrawals would require disclosure of why they needed it and the agreement of the bank. That’s right, you need to show the bank why you need your money and the bank has been saying no to customers, according to the report below.
HSBC never informed its customers of the new policy and told irate customers that the policy was changed in November and “[a]s this was not a change to the Terms and Conditions of your bank account, we had no need to pre-notify customers of the change,”
That came as a surprise to Stephen Cotton who went to his local HSBC branch to withdraw £7,000 from his instant access savings account. That is a large but not particularly outrageous amount of money. He needed it to pay back a loan from his mother. The bank refused the withdrawal and asked for a detailed explanation. Then Cotton says the bank refused to say how much it would let him withdraw: “So I wrote out a few slips. I said, ‘Can I have £5,000?’ They said no. I said, ‘Can I have £4,000?’ They said no. And then I wrote one out for £3,000 and they said, ‘OK, we’ll give you that.’” He then asked if he could come back later and make another withdrawal but was told that he could not withdraw his money twice in one day.
HSBC has now responded to the backlash by tweaking its policy:
“We ask our customers about the purpose of large cash withdrawals when they are unusual and out of keeping with the normal running of their account. Since last November, in some instances we may have also asked these customers to show us evidence of what the cash is required for. . . . The reason being we have an obligation to protect our customers, and to minimise the opportunity for financial crime. However, following feedback, we are immediately updating guidance to our customer facing staff to reiterate that it is not mandatory for customers to provide documentary evidence for large cash withdrawals, and on its own, failure to show evidence is not a reason to refuse a withdrawal. We are writing to apologise to any customer who has been given incorrect information and inconvenienced.”
Thus, you will still be questioned about your use of your money but you will not have to prepare a formal presentation of evidence to support your request for your own money.
What I fail to understand is how anyone could approve the original policy and not be fired. I also fail to understand how banks continue to assume such seemingly unchecked authority. If a person has demonstrated their identity, why is the bank even allowed to question a customer on their use of their own money?