Ulster Bank intends to move forward with its plan to start freezing the bank accounts of a first wave of customers who have not yet switched to a new bank from later this week, according to the Irish Independent.
The original October deadline has been pushed back a month to give customers additional time to prepare, but the plan is understood to now be to continue with the freezing of checking and deposit accounts on or after November 11 start.
Once an account is suspended, direct debits and standing orders will no longer be issued and customers will lose instant access to their funds. The customer then has 30 days before the account is closed by the bank.
Affected account holders were told in April and May that they had six months to close their account and switch to a new bank, credit union or post office.
The first of these should now be deactivated. The bank told TDs last month that the initial freeze will target the least active accounts with five or fewer transactions in a month, before targeting busier accounts. All remaining bank customers should be urged to look for a new bank.
Ulster Bank is understood to be planning an interim approach to account freezing, examining the profile of account holders and assessing the potential impact that blocking access to an account will have on customers. This can mean, for example, that accounts set up for pension and social security payments are preferred to remain open longer.
It is understood that customers who use Ulster Bank as their main account but have not switched to a new provider will receive further support to complete the switch.
Ulster Bank is not expected to fully exit the Irish market before next year, but the bank has split its hundreds of thousands of customer accounts into different cohorts and placed them on rolling closure schedules as part of its managed exit.
In any case, customers were informed six months in advance of the deadline for their account to be blocked. The bank has said more than 70 percent of customers who were notified in April and May that their account would be closed either closed or significantly reduced the level of activity on their checking account, or left it dormant. That suggests that nearly a third of those who have been asked to close their accounts have yet to take any significant steps to leave Ulster Bank, while not all who have started the move have completed the process.
Research released this week by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission showed that most bank switches go to AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB. Central Bank Governor Gabriel Makhlouf this week reiterated the regulator’s position that it could act to delay banks’ exit from the Irish market if there was a risk of leaving former customers stranded.
Ulster CEO Jane Howard has urged customers to contact the bank on 0818 210 260 or 00353 1804 7475 if calling from abroad, or on 1800 656 001 if they have vulnerabilities.
https://www.independent.ie/business/irish/ulster-bank-to-start-freezing-accounts-from-next-weekend-42120092.html Ulster Bank will begin freezing accounts next weekend