I have a power of attorney for my mother, who is 93 and in a nursing home with dementia.
Four years ago I put over £80,000 of my mother’s money into a two-year fixed rate savings bond with Investec.
When the two years were up, I renewed this for another two years. The bond is about to mature again and I want to keep it with Investec for another two years, but I run into an obstacle.
Investec insists it needs to see my mother’s identity documents, which must be a passport or driver’s license, as well as a selfie of her.
My mother never held them either, and given her age and condition it will be impossible to get them. Needless to say, she’s never taken a selfie.
Locked out: Our reader has been told his mom’s Investec savings account will be closed when it matures, if she can’t give the bank a passport or driver’s license
If it doesn’t get the ID it says it will return us the money and close the account. I’m not happy because Investec has one of the best interest rates on the market.
If she moves the money elsewhere, she’ll lose hundreds of pounds in interest, and account options will likely be limited as I’m sure I’ll run into this ID problem again. I feel that my mother is being discriminated against.
Is there a way to get around this requirement? AB, via email
I’m sorry to hear about the problems you’ve experienced maintaining your mother’s account with Investec.
It is always a shame to see banks being inflexible when it comes to their loyal customers.
Some may criticize you for being so preoccupied with earning interest on your mother’s money – but in my opinion it just makes good financial sense to be one of the top deals in our savings charts, which also includes Investec.
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With a sum that large, you earn thousands every year in interest, and that money is better placed in your mother’s pocket than in the bank’s coffers.
No doubt your family also has expenses associated with caring for your mother, which interest could help pay for.
So are banks allowed to lock out customers who don’t have certain forms of ID, and where are their older customers?
When opening an account, banks and mortgage banks must ask for proof of identity, which is required by law and is intended to prevent money laundering.
They usually ask for two forms: one to prove your identity and another to prove your address.
Banks have a list of acceptable ways to prove your identity, and it will vary from one to another.
In addition to passports and driver’s licenses, commonly accepted forms include national or armed forces ID cards, birth certificates, pension or benefits documents from the DWP, tax documents from HMRC or residence documents from the Home Office.
In addition, many banks have special procedures for those who do not have any of the documents on their list, so that they can still open an account.
When you first opened the Investec account, your mother’s ID was accepted even though it was not a driver’s license or passport. So what has changed?
Documentary Disaster: Our reader’s mother has the means to prove her identity – but not with a driver’s license or passport
I contacted Investec to ask why the policy was different now and if there was another way for you and your mother to prove her identity.
It told me the change happened because it had “digitized” its savings accounts.
The account you intended to deposit your money into is now an online savings product and applications must be made digitally on the new bank website.
Banks often check more strictly on products that are requested and managed online, without the customer ever visiting a branch – it is easier for criminals to apply for a branch.
Investec says on its website, “With a brand new banking platform, a straight forward digital application process and live chat support, these accounts are hassle free and can be applied for in minutes.”
But it certainly hasn’t been easy or hassle-free for you, and it seems that older customers didn’t put much thought into coming up with the new system.
While I wanted to bring this issue to your attention, I am sorry to inform you that the bank was sticking to its ID policy and you and your mother will not be able to keep your Investec account.
An Investec spokesperson: ‘We are sorry that the digitization of our savings products has meant that AB cannot help its mother to apply for our Fixed Rate Saver on our new digital savings platform.
“We have updated our range of savings products to meet the increasing demand from customers looking for savings that are online, easy to use and easily accessible.
“The digitization of our savings products has enabled us to continue to offer very competitive rates for savers in the UK retail market. Our onboarding and verification process meets very high standards, which is critical to us as custodians of retail depositors’ money.
‘As [his mother] does not have any of the identification documents we require for verification, she is unfortunately not eligible for our Fixed Rate Saver. The ongoing use of the account is also linked to the information we collect digitally during account opening.
“We recognize that this means that not all clients will be eligible, but as with any other client in this position, we have given notice to make alternative arrangements once the funds mature.”
New policy: Investec said it accepted that its new identification rules meant that ‘not all customers’ would qualify for its fixed-rate savings accounts
You told me that you will now deposit the money into a building fund where your mother has an existing account, which hopefully will help you get around the ID issue.
However, the interest on that account is 3.4 percent, compared to the 4.4 percent your mom got with Investec. It means you’re effectively saving £800 a year.
I understand that banks have to do everything they can to prevent fraud, but I can’t help but think that you and your mother have been treated a bit unfairly here.
Given that your mother previously provided ID that Investec accepted, and that you only wanted to keep money already in the bank in the same place, I don’t see why your reasonable request couldn’t be granted.
I would like to hear from other readers who have encountered this ID problem. What did you do about it and was your bank willing to help? As always, you can get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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