Disability news

Santander fail to support disabled customer

Tony Hawkins

A disabled man has been let down by Santender after they froze his bank card because there were a number of unauthorised withdrawals.

Tony Hawkins, 72, from Llandysul, Ceredigion, found £2,000 had been taken out of his account. The ex-police officer uses a wheelchair after suffering spinal problems affecting his speech, movement and a series of strokes.

His friend David Morgan helped him raise the case to Santender, but both men found the bank was “uncaring” trying to resolve the problem.

The bank froze the card in August whilst they carried out an investigation, but without access to his money Hawkins has gone without essentials such as food.

Hawkins is currently having to borrow money from friends as the unauthorised withdrawals have increased to more than £3,200.

Morgan first noticed money was being taken out of his friend’s account in July. 

"Tony pointed out he'd had deductions made from his bank account," he told BBC News.

"He showed me his mobile phone. He told me hadn't authorised these. I kept asking him 'are you absolutely certain', and he said 'yes'."

Morgan contacted Santender on behalf of Hawkins on 2 August, but the bank said they could not discuss the incident because he was not the account holder.

He also raised his concern to Action Fraud, which handles national fraud and cybercrime across the UK, but they said there were "no useful lines of inquiry".

A few days later a carer for Hawkins, who is unable to access online banking because of his disability, told him that his debit card was no longer working.

"She (the carer) was not able to draw out money to buy food for him," Morgan explained.

"He has been relying on loans from friends and we got in touch with his social worker at Ceredigion council and she arranged for a loan for Mr Hawkins while we're trying to sort this problem out with Santander.

"The strange thing is despite stopping the use of his card, money is still going out of his account - sums he has not authorised."

Despite being told the situation Santender told Morgan they would only speak to him in person.

Morgan took Hawkins to their local branch in Carmarthen on 30th August, but they still ran into difficulties.

"Mr Hawkins informed me he had no forms of identity as his driving licence had gone astray," Morgan told the BBC.

"Santander said (to) take correspondence from the local authority, utility bills and on top of that I found, on the internet, an article from the Tivyside Advertiser which included a photo of Mr Hawkins being awarded the British Empire Medal.

"I got a local solicitor to sign and stamp it as a true likeness. They (the branch) said it wasn't enough and they couldn't deal with the matter."

A spokesperson for Santender said: “We are reviewing the right support options for our customer.

"Santander has a range of options in place for customers who need more tailored support, and we would encourage customers to contact us to discuss these either in branch, over the phone or via our digital channels."

[ Santander has sponsored the McLaren Formula One team since 2007.]

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