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How to reclaim unfair bank charges
After a November 2009 Supreme Court ruling made it more difficult to claim back bank charges. Many people have deemed it impossible or pointless to attempt the process. However, it is possible to reclaim these unfair charges from your bank, particularly if you are struggling financially.
Overdraft charges and other bank fees can be incurred for a number of reasons but if you feel you have been charged unfairly then there are steps you can take to reclaim your money.
Talk to your bank
Firstly, the best thing to do is to talk to your bank explaining the situation. Outline the money you feel is owed to you (with evidence) and any hardships you may be facing.
After figuring out how much you could possibly reclaim and writing to your bank, they should reply to you with a solution to the problem.
These replies from the bank could include:
- A full refund
- A refusal of your claim
- An offer to help your financial problems but no refund of charges
- A partial refund
If you are happy with the outcome from writing to the bank, you can accept their offer and put the whole scenario behind you. However, if you are not happy with the offer from your bank, you can take further action.
Complain to the financial ombudsman
Taking your complaint to the financial ombudsman is an easy and safe route to take proceedings a step further after getting in touch with the bank yourself. If you take your complaint to the ombudsman, they can only help you in certain circumstances.
- Charges not being applied according to the terms and conditions of the account
- Charges resulting from an error by the current account provider
However, if you are in financial difficulty, your provider should deal with your case in a positive and sympathetic manner. Although, they do not have to refund or suspend the charges automatically if you are experiencing financial hardship.
The ombudsman will look at whether or not your current account provider has done enough to help you. They will also make sure that your financial situation has been properly assessed.
A good outcome that could be offered from your current account provider includes:
- Help with the interest or charges on your account
- The rescheduling of your debt from the current account to help break the cycle of charges
- Being given a current account that is more appropriate for your circumstances
- Help to reschedule your account payments to minimise the occurrence and possibility of future charges to you
If you are unhappy with the result or you lose your case with the ombudsman, you have one more option available to you.
Go to court
This is an expensive and risky option, taking your complaint to court will not be easy and is largely untested. However, if you have been charged a lot over the years or have found yourself in thousands of pounds worth of debt, the cost and risk of going to court could be worth it.
There is not a lot of precedent or many comparisons for taking your bank to court over unfair charges and if you are considering this, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.