Banking withdrawal restrictions may ‘create new targets for burglars’

Age Action has accused Bank of Ireland of ignoring the needs of its older customers

Under new rules announced by Bank of Ireland, from mid-November withdrawals of less than €700 will no longer be facilitated with the aid of tellers in branches

Under new rules announced by Bank of Ireland, from mid-November withdrawals of less than €700 will no longer be facilitated with the aid of tellers in branches

 

Bank of Ireland’s decision to restrict cash withdrawals and lodgements could lead to heightened security issues for people withdrawing large sums of cash from the counter and create new targets for burglars, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has warned.

Under new rules announced by Bank of Ireland, from mid-November withdrawals of less than € 700 will no longer be facilitated with the aid of tellers in branches. Customers will have to use ATMs or mobile devices for small and modest-sized withdrawals.

IFA Farm Business Chairman Tom Doyle said by forcing customers to withdraw at least € 700 from the counter, the bank may be “creating a new target for burglars”. He added that the change of rules would cause great difficulty to some farmers who are not familiar with the online system.

“The reduction in the number of branches in rural areas has meant that customers have to travel further to do their banking business,” said Mr Doyle. “This move will add to the sense of their banking service being cut back even more”.

Age Action accused Bank of Ireland of ignoring the needs of its older customers, saying older people were already frustrated by how difficult it has become to engage with bank employees face-to-face. He said that according to the National Digital Strategy, only 3 per cent of people aged over 75 in Ireland have ever used the internet.

“The majority of people aged 60 and over have never been online,” said Mr Moran. “The changes proposed by Bank of Ireland, trying to force people to carry out their business online, are only going to make that worse and it’s clear older people were completely ignored in making this decision.”

“We would urge Bank of Ireland to think seriously about the needs of their older customers. They should facilitate people who want to handle their finances by dealing face-to-face with bank staff they know and trust.”

Under the new rules lodgements of up to € 3,000 and those involving less than 15 cheques will also have to use the bank’s dedicated lodgement ATMs. The changes will also see the daily withdrawal limit on cards increased to € 1,300.

Safety concerns

Dermott Jewell , spokesman for the Consumers’ Association of Ireland, said the bank’s new lodgement and withdrawal restrictions were a clear indicator of how “long standing customers are being placed in disadvantaged and unsuitable positions, despite the fact that they are paying for the services.”

Mr Jewell also raised concerns over the safety of older consumers withdrawing large sums of money from ATMs which they would keep at home or on their person.

“The bank is focused solely on its bottom line and profit-take regardless of the consequences for thousands of its long supporting customers,” he said.

Fianna Fáil spokesman on jobs and enterprise Dara Calleary warned that the new withdrawal restrictions would have serious repercussions for small businesses and urged Bank of Ireland to reconsider the change.

“Small businesses across the country depend on seamless access to over the counter withdrawal and lodgement arrangements at bank branches in carrying out daily business,” said Mr Calleary. “For cash intensive businesses like retail SMEs, pubs and cafés, the new withdrawal arrangements, combined with the ban on cash lodgements of up to €3,000 in over the counter business at branches, will seriously impede the ease of doing business. We need to be making life easier for small businesses, not harder.”

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice said Bank of Ireland had abandoned its small customers by introducing the new withdrawal restrictions, warning of the repercussions on older people in Ireland.

“In recent years the banks have persisted in attempting to get elderly people to do their banking online when many of those people have never used a computer in their lives,” said Mr Fitzmaurice. “It is a gross insult to people who supported these institutions all their lives in many cases.”

“This situation once again highlights the urgent need for an enhanced role for credit unions, especially in rural Ireland.”

In a statement, Bank of Ireland said it understood the changes “may be a new way of banking for some of our customers, and the branch teams will be available to help and guide them through this change”.

It said over-the-counter business and personal transactions last year made up only 4 per cent of total transactions with customers increasingly choosing to use in-branch devices or bank 24/7 using digital channels.