The case of the bank and the death certificate that keeps disappearing
Reader query: Conor Pope assists readers with their consumer problems and praises Lidl
PTSB: if it believed a man was alive for the last 25 years, why did it never send a debit card in his name during this time? Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
A reader called Grace contacted us on behalf of her “elderly mother” who received a letter from Permanent TSB in October requesting valid ID for Grace’s father, as his name was on the joint account. Her father passed away in August 1992.
“The ‘joint’ account was subsequently placed ‘on hold’ in November 2017, due to the fact that a copy of my father’s death certificate had not been supplied to the bank (a copy was supplied in 1992 at the time of his death).”
Grace hand-delivered a letter from her mother to PTSB, on Dublin’s O’Connell Street on November 7th, informing them of that her father’s death cert had been given to the bank back in 1992 and also supplying another copy, in order to resolve the issue. “My mother’s letter also requested that PTSB investigate what became of the death cert provided in 1992. Finally, she requested that my father’s name be removed, at last, from the account.”
On Saturday, January 13th, this year the debit card associated with Grace’s mother’s current account was declined at two ATMs, and when she called Permanent TSB’s customer service centre on Sunday, January 14th, her mother was told her current account had been closed, as the documents requested in 2017 were not received.
“My mother has today, January 16th, had to travel into Permanent TSB in order to open a new current account, as this was the only resolution the bank offered. She has now also been informed that she must bring in the copy of the death cert (this will be the third time that said cert has been supplied!).”
Grace believes PTSB has questions to answer. Specifically she wants to know what happened to the death certificate supplied to the bank back in 1992, at the time of her father’s death? She also wants to know why “despite several conversations my mother has had with the bank over the years, did my father’s name remain on the current account. And why did nobody at the bank escalate this matter at any point between 1992 and now?”
She would also like to know why, if PTSB believed her father was alive for the last 25 years, it never sent a debit card in his name during this time? Why has it not requested any ID before this point?
And she would like to know what happened the death certificate supplied last November? “The bank acknowledged receipt of the letter, but say the death certificate was not received. The letter my mother hand-delivered referenced the inclusion of the death certificate, so if the death certificate was not with it, surely PTSB should have contacted my mother to let her know this?”
And finally she asks if any charges have been incurred over the last 25 years on the account, due to the fact that her father’s name has remained on it (Dirt, bank charges etc) and if there any other considerations she should be aware of.
“As I mentioned, my mother is quite elderly and recently has not been very well. This issue has caused her undue upset and worry. At a time when she should be concentrating on her recovering health, she is instead trying to resolve what I can only see as a complete series of errors (not to mention breaches of data protection) by the bank. Fortunately, my mother has family near to her so the freezing of her account and inability to access her money has not impacted her too badly. Not everyone would be so lucky. To leave an 87-year-old woman without access to her accounts over a weekend in January seems negligent on the part of PTSB.”
It certainly does. So we contacted the bank and a spokesman “sincerely” apologised “for this very regrettable issue”. He said the bank was investigating “with the branch to find out what happened to the documentation which the customer provided in November last which should have resolved the issue before any inconvenience was caused”.
He also outlined a broader context: “Through the past year, Permanent TSB has undertaken a major exercise under AML legislation (anti-money laundering) to ensure that it holds up-to-date proof of ID and address documentation for all named account holders.
“Thousands of accounts were reviewed and where the bank didn’t have the required proof of ID and address, we wrote on a number of occasions to account holders requesting the same and, where possible, we also tried to phone account holders. Where the documentation required under the AML legislation was not provided over a prolonged period, the bank has had no option but to close the relevant accounts.”
The PTSB spokesman concluded by saying that “clearly in this case the customer did provide the relevant documentation in November last so our concern now is why that wasn’t acted upon correctly. Again, we apologise to this customer and hope to contact her directly to express our regret in the days ahead.”