What to do if your bank decides you are ‘inactive’ -Dlight News

What to do if your bank decides you are 'inactive'

In an exciting development, my bank has decided that my account is not dormant and I can access my money. All I had to do was call them and answer a few questions that proved I wasn’t dead, that I was me and therefore eligible for an exciting opportunity to access my own funds. Sadly, we’re not talking about a life-changing sum of money, but I don’t think one of the Big Four banks should take that away from me.

Obviously, proving I wasn’t passive was nerve-wracking stuff. I didn’t want to be aggressive on the phone but what if I get a little sleepy while answering? Can the bank conclude that I was clearly heading towards inactivity and put me on a watchlist for future inactivity?

Apparently, I was sent a warning that it would be treated as inactive, but I was probably hibernating when it came. All I can say is that I have not seen any such letter or email.

The account was not with my main bank. I opened it a few years ago because another bank offered better interest rates. (Note for under 30s: Banks used to offer interest on savings accounts.)

Anyway, for whatever reason, I stopped topping it up, but kept it in place as a useful pot and only remembered it when filling out my tax return. Perhaps if the bank had been a little less passive with its interests, I would have lost a little less sleep in paying attention.

I knew it was there and that was it. And then a friend mentioned getting a letter that one of her smaller accounts was considered inactive, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen a statement in a long time.

I rang the bank and confirmed that my pot had been frozen and was counting down the years until they could hand it over to a central fund that takes such money and spends it on worthy causes, none of which is me. Perhaps they were counting on it to fund the Silicon Valley Bank bailout. My call handler’s tone was that it was frankly rather unsporting to interrupt that process for money I wasn’t using.

Anyway, it all ended satisfactorily except the promised confirmation didn’t come until I chased them up again. Perhaps the first one went to the same place that warned. Or maybe the whole bank is suffering from sleeping sickness. And when it arrived, it wasn’t a confirmation but a “welcome” pack. I’m welcomed to my “new” account, which is apparently completely different from the old account that they decided to freeze because I wasn’t showing enough signs of life. I suppose this is the bank’s way of showing that it was my fault for appearing passive rather than them assuming I was.

But apparently it will be redesigned Again as inactive in a year if I don’t use it, which I don’t plan to do, that’s why I put it in a savings account. News reports suggest that the bank is taking a very aggressive approach to cooling. I know I’m not using it efficiently, but we’re not talking huge amounts here and I want it to park for as long as I need it.

“Maybe put on a few pounds a month?” The counselor said helpfully. “Or maybe extract a lot each month?” I replied. But he thought his idea was better.

This is another reason to watch people. Almost every savings account I have has suddenly stopped paying the higher rate it once offered. So you have to move everything to the same new account with a different name to continue. Now, apparently not content with keeping my money, they expect me to look busy enough to make it worth their while to pay me next-to-nothing for their trouble.

This was probably all the motivation I needed to close the account and do something more sensible with the money. Or maybe I should just stick it in the mattress. Of course, there is an added risk of robbery, but only by those who are believed to be stealing.

Follow Robert on Twitter @robertshrimsley And email it robert.shrimsley@ft.com

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