How to protect yourself from banking issues

Holly Thomas / 17 March 2016

If your bank experiences technical issues, it can leave you stranded without any access to your money. Here are some simple steps to protect yourself.

Technical hitches happen all the time – but when they strike at your bank, it can cause havoc if it means you can’t get your hands on your money. Banking issues are becoming increasingly common these days.

NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland customers have suffered several glitches – the most recent affecting people using their debit cards in shops over the new year. Customers reported having their cards declined at tills and their pins being blocked – the cause of major frustration for those on a January sales shopping spree.

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Thousands of customers left without cash

In October last year technical faults at Barclays saw online and mobile banking services collapse for periods throughout an afternoon, and some customers had issues withdrawing cash or making payments with their cards.

On one Friday last August – before a bank holiday weekend – thousands of HSBC bank customers – who are all paid by their employers on the last working day of the month – didn’t receive their salary payments as expected. This glitch caused many of them serious financial problems. Some customers reported going unexpectedly overdrawn, having direct debit payments rejected and not being able to make child maintenance payments in accordance with their legal obligations.

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There are four simple measures you can take to ensure you don't get caught out if gremlins make an appearance at your bank:

1. Keep a small amount of cash at home

Stash some emergency cash at home so you have money to buy essentials if your card stops working. 

Don’t be tempted to keep large sums of cash in the biscuit tin. Most home insurers will only cover around a few hundred pounds. Plus, you won’t earn any interest! Make sure it’s well hidden too.

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2. Have a reserve account with another bank

Most of us know to keep an easily accessible “rainy day” account. But if all of this money is with the same bank as your current account and credit card, then you won’t have much luck accessing it should problems strike.

It might be worth having an account with another bank so you have another card to try if your card is mysteriously refused at the till. 

If you don’t want another bank account, you could consider an emergency credit card so you can still pay for shopping.

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3. Double check direct debits

If problems do strike, check to make sure that all your payments have been made. Where payments are missed and charges incurred because of a fault at the bank, it should cover those for you. Keep evidence of fees charged to show if asked. 

You could pre-empt charges by getting in touch with the company before fees are applied if you know that a payment will not be made.

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4. Check your credit report

If late payments do occur they will appear against your name on your credit report. 

If this happens, you can contact the company that added the late payment to your credit report, explain the situation and ask them to remove the record. 

If they refuse, you can call a credit reference agency and instruct them to add a note to your account to explain the late payment. 

This means if you need credit in the future –– even perhaps for a new mobile phone contract – you won’t run into any problems. 

Find out more about checking and correcting your credit report.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.