Barclaycard called me on November 29 last year asking if I had made several purchases, totalling about £2,500, away from my area.
I hadn’t, so it cancelled my card and sent me another. Staff said I would not be responsible for the spending.
Several days later they asked if I had changed the address on my account, which I hadn’t. They had accepted the change without the usual security checks and offered me £125 compensation. But then they sent my new card to the fraudster anyway!
One reader said Barclaycard sent their card to a stranger and they ended up with a £875 debt
I finally received my new card on December 22 and used it for the first time on the 30th. But then I received my December statement showing several contactless purchases.
I was being charged £1,023 instead of the £148 for my own activity. I was referred to the Level II fraud team and my card was cancelled.
I’m 71 and have been a loyal customer of Barclays since 1982. I have now received several monthly statements, each one adding interest and a late payment fee. I have been offered £25 compensation, but this long‑standing problem is still not resolved.
D. K., East Sussex.
TONY REPLIES: When I contacted Barclaycard, it asked that you go through your statement again and highlight every fraudulent transaction. This picked up one more fraudulent item from December 2017.
There were some other transactions that you did not recognise, and it seems the remainder of these were online subscriptions to beauty products.
It appears that you may have accidentally signed up to these without reviewing the terms and conditions. These authorised the additional recurring charges that you saw on your account.
Straight to the point
My wife has a pension. The small print says it contains a guaranteed annuity. What does this mean?
L. L., Merseyside
Guaranteed annuity rates were offered by insurance firms in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. They promise to give you a set income at retirement and are often a good deal because the payouts are far higher than anything you can get today.
However, they are often restrictive. For instance, commonly you cannot leave an income for your spouse on your death.
Also, once you have taken an annuity, you cannot cash in the rest of your pot or take a lump sum whenever you like.
I have an interest-only mortgage but have no way of paying back the capital and am retired. Will I have to leave my home?
I. M, Kendal, Cumbria.
Banks have launched loans in recent months that allow you to continue making payments on your interest-only deal indefinitely — allowing you to stay in your home. The capital is paid back when you sell the house, pass away, or go into a care home.
Lenders offering the deals include Bath, Vernon, Tipton & Coseley, and Hodge Lifetime. Nationwide Building Society says it plans to follow suit in the coming months.
I keep getting messages on my answering machine from 020 379 4709 saying my identity may have been compromised in foreign countries. The speaker, a lady with an American accent, instructs me to dial 1 to be connected to an operator for more information. Is this a scam?
R. S., email
This is a number being used by fraudsters to extort victims. Get Safe Online, the Government-backed cybersecurity initiative, has confirmed this is a scam. Ignore the message and block the caller if you have that function on your phone.
I have received seven boxes of goods from Amazon which I didn’t order. I’ve been charged £169.93. Amazon has promised me return labels and my money back but it hasn’t materialised. Can you help?
A. B., via email
Amazon apologises and says it has issued you a refund.
Given the wider circumstances, Barclaycard has decided to refund all of the disputed transactions plus any associated fees as a gesture of goodwill.
It is worth mentioning here that we should all be very wary of terms and conditions when signing up to trials, supposedly ‘free’ offers or subscriptions.
I know of many people, both personally and professionally, who have fallen for this sort of scam — and scam it is, because any firm that does not make it clear as crystal that you are signing up for extra payments cannot be considered a legitimate operator.
My son is locked in a dispute with First Utility. He is a hard-working lad who has recently suffered a divorce.
First Utility claims he owes them £861. This follows a series of letters demanding £1,390 for gas and electricity on a house he vacated last September. Each time, he replied explaining that he made regular monthly payments until September 12, when he moved out.
F. C., Merseyside
TONY REPLIES: Well, this turns out to be a bit of a muddle, and I’m not at all sure any blame can be laid at the door of First Utility.
Your son’s former wife moved out of the property in July 2016. The energy account was registered in her name and your son did not call First Utility to put the account in his own name.
Over the following 14 months, until he moved out, the bills continued to be paid by direct debit from the same joint account that he and his former wife had used previously. So, as far as First Utility was concerned, nothing had changed.
In February 2018, his ex-wife contacted First Utility to say she had moved out of the property in July 2016. As the account was in her name, it returned all of the direct debit payments since then to her. It then recalculated the portion your son was responsible for, giving the bill of £861.
When I made contact, it suspended debt collection activity on the account to give him time to discuss the issue with his former partner. I understand that they have now resolved the issue and the bill has been paid.
Your letter serves as a reminder that it is very important to keep details on regular bills up-to-date when a separation is involved.
My father recently passed away. Among his things I found a passbook from the National & Provincial Building Society showing a balance of £16,550 in August 1987. The building society was, I believe, bought by Abbey National, which later became Santander.
When I visited my local branch, they told me that their records only go back for six years. I suspect the account was closed after the funds were withdrawn, but would really like to clear up the matter.
C. S., Wakefield.
TONY REPLIES: Santander has re-checked its records and confirms that it has no accounts for your late father.
Abbey National took over National & Provincial in 1996. The last entry in the passbook is August 1987, so the account was likely closed before the transfer onto the Abbey National system.
A spokesman told me accounts that remain open are shown on its system and on returns it submits to HM Revenue & Customs.
‘We have neither for this former National & Provincial savings account, and as passbooks are not required for the closure of an account, it must have been closed prior to the acquisition by Abbey National.’
You have your say
Money Mail, July 11, 2018
Every week Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some about a pensioner who was charged £10,000 after her mobile provider, Unicom, claimed she had exceeded her data allowance.
My current package offers me 90GB a month, as well as unlimited calls and texts for just £35. How can these charges be legally enforceable? The data usage clearly hasn’t cost Unicom that much.
T. O., Birmingham.
If the firm is happy that the bill is correct, they should be able to supply a full breakdown of the costs. I would refuse to pay a penny until they did so.
A. M., Manchester.
Everyone thinks that the various Ombudsmen are looking out for the customer. But their first port of call is the contract, and they take a technical view of it.
This isn’t on the same scale, of course, but her landline and broadband charge of £47 a month seems excessive, too. I’d hope it would be pretty fast broadband, but she doesn’t seem like she needs such an expensive package.
V. M., London.
This woman needs to find a new provider — and preferably one that caps usage. Then there would be no fear of unwanted bills.
P. C., Wolverhampton.
The worrying thing is that many customers would have paid up just to stop debt collectors turning up at their door.
D. M, Coventry.
Other people could have been using her phone as a WiFi hotspot. A friend of mine accidentally connected his computer to his neighbour’s mobile instead of his WiFi box. He only found out when his WiFi went off because his neighbour went to work.
W. C., Swansea, Wales.
Write to Tony Hazell at Ask Tony, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email firstname.lastname@example.org — please include your daytime phone number, postal address and a separate note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Tony Hazell.
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