High street banks have come under renewed pressure over dormant accounts, after several of them admitted they have been using the money to boost their profits.
Do you think banks should be allowed to profit from dormant accounts?
What do you think should happen to the money?
Do you think that the government should take action on this issue?
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I opened a savings account with a small amount of money in my first year as a student in London. About 20 years later I decided close the account and asked my local branch what I should do.
As it was so long since I had done any transactions they told me I should send the pass book with a covering letter to the branch in London.
I did that, but kept no copy of either, and have heard no more. I subsequently discovered that the branch had long since closed down.
In Australia it is the law that an account is declared dormant if there are no transactions for 7 years.
The banks are required to give six months notice to the account holder of the impending dormant status.
Any funds remaining in a dormant account go to the federal or state government depending on the institutions regulatory status.
I worked for a number of years in Amsterdam and left a dormant savings account of about 40 guilders in the mid-1980s.
When I tried to access the account after about 10 years the bank said it had allocated the account number to someone else, and had taken the money, which could no longer be retrieved.
So the banks seem to be 'at it' all over the place.
The reason that this story has arisen again is the fact that the chancellor wants this money.
This is a pre-emptive strike by the government to get hold of this money and spend it on hospitals, instead of corporate hospitality.
Gordon Brown really is scraping the barrel with this one. Banks are accused of stealing (even though the cash is paid back with interest if re-appropriated), but is it OK for the government to swipe it for "re-investing in society"?
I think the interest on the money should be used to help credit unions lend to the poorer members of our community.
However, the funds should always be available to be paid back if the owner of the account is found.
This is certainly a matter for government action. Sadly I am not at all surprised to hear the banks are using the money in this way.
The UK should adopt the Canadian system. Here, if an account is dormant for a certain period, the funds and all information related to it is turned over to the Bank of Canada, our Central Bank.
There, the money is kept for a certain period (I do not remember exactly how many years, but I believe 25), and the account name and sum of money is published in the Official Gazette, and on the bank's website.
The money can be retrieved by the account holder or heirs, on proof of identity. If it is not retrieved by the end of the set period, it goes into the government's general account.
C. Alexander Brown
The banks are your modern day highwaymen! They charge you in an instant, and tell you it costs a lot of money for them to process electronic transactions. They are making profits that run into the billions.
It struck me as I was listening to your programme that as the report on pensions immediately followed the report on the billions of pounds which the banks are holding for dormant accounts, that there perhaps could be a relationship which solves the pension issue and enables the Treasury to exact a type of tax without calling it so.
Take the dormant accounts, use the capital to generate sufficient funds in interest and dividends to provide for the pension payments for the unfortunate people who have lost their pensions through no fault of their own.
The government could underwrite the banks in the unlikely event that there was a shortfall between the claimants of any dormant account and the dormant account monies fund, which had been used up to fund the pensions.
So... pensioners get their pensions, and banks are allowed to keep the dormant account money, but have to use the cash the capital generates to fund the pensions.
Any surplus cash the banks generate from the monies they are allowed to keep. And everybody is happy.
How about taking the available money, and using it to provide a windfall of capital investment to sixth-form colleges? This is a sector that has missed out on the funding increases available to other schools and higher education establishments.
Distributing the money to charities would undoubtedly be worthy, but probably would not have as significant an impact when spread so thinly, but colleges are crying out for major capital investment.
It could give a real boost to our education systems.
Many elderly folks, and others, like to keep a sum for a rainy day and do not generate movement on an annual basis.
Banks, building societies & other financial institutions ought to contact customers annually with a reply-paid envelope asking for confirmation that they are happy for their funds to remain in the account.
Given the database of credit reference agencies it ought to be possible to locate 'missing' customers and the next letter should then be very robust.
The institutions ought to be under a duty to maximise the income due on these sums so that if a particular account product is withdrawn then it should not pay a measly amount of interest but should be transferred to a similar current product.
Totally untraceable funds ought to go into a specially run charity fund.
I had an account closed which I had not used for two years.
The bank claimed it wrote and told me it was closing the account but I received no such communication.
I think banks should make more effort to track down customers before closing an account without the customer's consent.
If the government and the banks co-operated in attempting to locate the persons who leave money in these accounts, they could easily contact the vast majority, who I am sure would be glad to be told they have money they had forgotten about.
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