I have power of attorney for my mother, who is 93 and in a nursing home with dementia.
Four years ago I put over £80,000 of my mum’s money into a two-year fixed rate savings bond with Investec.
After the two years were up, I extended that for another two years. The bond is about to mature again and I want to keep it with Investec for another two years, but I have encountered an obstacle.
Investec insists they need to see my mother’s ID, which must be a passport or driver’s license, and a selfie of her.
My mum never had either, and her age and condition means it will be impossible to get them. Needless to say, she never took a selfie.
Locked out: Our reader has been told her mum’s Investec savings account will be closed when it matures, if she can’t provide the bank with a passport or driver’s license
If he doesn’t get the ID, he says he will return the money to us and close the account. I’m not happy because Investec has one of the best interest rates in the market.
Moving the money elsewhere will mean she will lose hundreds of pounds in interest, and account options will likely be limited as I’m sure I’ll come back to this identity issue. I feel like my mom is being discriminated against.
Is there a way around this requirement? AB, by e-mail
I’m sorry to hear about the problem you had trying to keep your mother’s account with Investec.
It is always a shame to see banks being inflexible towards their loyal customers.
Some might blame you for being so concerned about earning interest on your mother’s money – but in my opinion, it just makes financial sense to be one of the best offers on our savings tables , such as Investec.
CRANE ON THE BODY
In our weekly column, This is Money consumer expert Helen Crane tackles readers’ pain points and shines a light on companies doing good and bad.
Do you want them to investigate a problem or do you want to commend a company for going the extra mile? Get in touch:
With a large sum like this, you will earn thousands in interest every year, and this money is better in your mother’s pocket than in the bank vaults.
There is no doubt that your family also has costs associated with caring for your mother, which the interest could help pay.
So are banks allowed to exclude customers who don’t have certain IDs, and where does that leave their older customers?
When opening an account, banks and building societies must ask for identification, which is a legal requirement and aims to prevent money laundering.
They usually ask for two forms – one to prove your identity and another to prove your address.
Banks will have a list of acceptable ways to prove your identity, and this will vary from bank to bank.
In addition to passports and driving licenses, commonly accepted forms include national or armed forces identity cards, birth certificates, DWP pension or entitlement documents, HMRC tax documents or residence of the Ministry of the Interior.
Additionally, many banks have special procedures in place for those who do not have any of the documents on their list, so that they can still open an account.
When you originally opened the Investec account, your mother’s ID was accepted even though it was not a driver’s license or passport. So what has changed?
Documentary disaster: Our reader’s mother can afford to prove her identity – but not with a driver’s license or passport
I contacted Investec to ask why their policy was now different, and if there was another way for you and your mother to prove her identity.
He told me the change happened because he “digitalized” his savings accounts.
The account you wanted to deposit your money into is now an online-only savings product, and applications must be made digitally on its new banking website.
Banks often have tighter controls for products that will be requested and handled online, without the customer ever going to a branch – as it would be easier for criminals to request them.
Investec states on its website: “With an all-new banking platform, a simple digital application process and live chat support, these accounts are hassle-free and can be applied for in minutes.”
But it certainly wasn’t easy or hassle-free for you, and it seems older customers didn’t give much thought to the new system.
While I wanted to raise awareness of this issue, I’m sorry to report that the bank has stood firm on its ID policy, and you and your mother will not be able to keep your Investec account.
An Investec spokesperson said: “We are sorry that the digitization of our savings products has prevented AB from helping her mother apply for our Fixed Rate Saver on our new digital savings platform.
“We have updated our range of savings products to meet growing demand from customers looking for online savings that are simple to use and easy to access.
“Digitizing our savings products has enabled us to continue to offer very competitive prices to savers in the UK retail market. Our onboarding and verification process meets very high standards, which is essential for us as depositories of savers’ money.
‘As [his mother] does not hold any of the identification documents we need for verification, unfortunately she is not eligible for our fixed rate. Continued account usage is also tied to the information we collect digitally during the account sign-up process.
“We recognize that this means that not all clients are eligible, but as with any other client in this position, we have given notice to make alternative arrangements once the funds have come due.”
New policy: Investec said it accepts its new ID rules mean ‘not all customers’ will be eligible for its fixed rate savings accounts
You told me that you will now put the money in a construction company that your mother has an existing account with, which will hopefully get you around the identity problem.
However, the interest rate on this account is 3.4%, compared to the 4.4% your mother received with Investec. This means you are effectively losing £800 per year.
I understand that banks need to do everything they can to prevent fraud, but I can’t help but feel that you and your mother have been treated a bit unfairly here.
Given that your mother already provided ID which Investec accepted and all you wanted to do was keep the money that was already in the bank in the same place, I don’t see why your reasonable request could not be satisfied.
I would love to hear from other readers who have encountered this identification problem. What did you do about it and was your bank willing to help? As always, you can get in touch at email@example.com.
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on it, we may earn a small commission. This helps us fund This Is Money and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any business relationship to affect our editorial independence.