NatWest and RBS problems: what to do if you have been affected
Things you can do as the banks work to clear the backlog of the crisis.
The major system problems that hit NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank customers have now been fixed. But as the banks deal with the backlog of balances that failed to update and bills that weren’t paid, what should you be doing to ensure your finances are protected and you're not left out of pocket?
What to do now
As the banks scramble to sort this situation out there are a few things you should do.
List all your payments – make a list of payments you expected to receive since the beginning of the problems last Tuesday (19th June) when the computer systems failed to update balances. NatWest is assuring all customers that no money has been lost, but by doing this you can ensure all payments have been credited correctly and nothing has been missed out when things get back to normal. Equally importantly you should compile a list of direct debits and standing orders which should have been paid out of your account since Tuesday last week. By now, you should have contacted anyone you owe money to and explained the situation. If you haven't, you need to do so now.
Compile a list of charges incurred – these can be for the phone calls you made to companies about payments, to NatWest on their 0845 number, fines for late payment of bills and any interest or charges added to credit cards, etc. The Financial Ombudsman Service is advising everyone to keep detailed records to deal with any disputes that may arise later. You will want to recoup your loses and although RBS and NatWest have said no customer will be left "out of pocket" and that they will reimburse any reasonable cost you may need this evidence should you want to make a complaint.
Consider arranging an overdraft – if your account is running on empty as the end of the month approaches it may be a good idea to arrange an authorised overdraft, even if it's only for a few weeks, to make sure you can pay any bills in case your balance doesn't update in time. Make sure you talk to your bank about this; don't just go ahead and go into the red, as you could be charged.
Don’t panic about your credit score or overdraft fees – hundreds of thousands of customers found bills were not paid because their balances had failed to update with money coming in, causing transactions to fail as there appeared to be insufficient funds available.
Missed payments on a mortgage, phone bill, credit card or loan can be detrimental to your credit score. But debtors do not usually register a late payment for seven to ten days. And Susan Allen, Director of Customer Services at RBS Group, said in a statement: "We will automatically waive any overdraft fees or charges on current accounts for customers affected. This will be processed over the next few days. We will work directly with credit agencies to ensure no one has their credit score affected."
But keep an eye on your credit report – although RBS has made assurances that no one’s credit rating will be harmed you won’t be sure until you have accessed your credit report. The repercussions of this crisis could take a couple of months to show up. Access your credit report now and in a few months to check that your credit score hasn't been damaged. If it has, you need to ask the bank for a letter explaining the situation so you can send it to the credit reference agency and ask for a 'Notice of Correction' on your credit report.
Today (Monday), NatWest will be open until 7pm if you want to talk to an advisor or try and withdraw cash. If you can’t get to a branch call NatWest using 0161 451 7551, RBS on 0161 930 8666 and for Ulster Bank call 02890 538 048.
NatWest has also updated their FAQs to include answers to questions people may have about the current situation.
Alternative current accounts
If these problems have hit you and your family hard and you haven’t been impressed by the way RBS, Natwest and Ulster Bank have dealt with your concerns you may want to consider what other banks and current accounts are offering.
The first direct 1st Account is offering £100 for switching to this current account at the moment. Both the bank and the account regularly receive high praise for customer service.
Meanwhile, Halifax has brought back its £100 bonus for switching to its Reward Current Account, which also rewards customers depositing at least £1,000 a month with £5 cashback.
And the Santander 123 Current Account pays cashback on your direct debits.