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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 September 2006, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
Claim OAP told to prove sanity
Edna Woolstenhulme
Miss Woolstenhulme was very upset says her niece
The family of an 89-year-old Anglesey woman are claiming a bank refused to let her withdraw 7,000 from her account until she "proved" her sanity.

Edna Woolstenhulme's account at the Royal Bank of Scotland has remained frozen after she refused the request for a letter from her doctor.

The family complained to the Financial Ombudsman Service about her treatment but they could not help.

The Royal Bank of Scotland denied it doubted Miss Woolstenhulme's sanity.

However, it acknowledged it could have explained its actions to Miss Woolstenhulme more clearly and said it wouldl be back in contact with her as a matter of priority.

Miss Woolstenhulme was upset when she was first telephoned by the bank for details about her mental health after her niece Lynda Peppercorn - acting on her behalf - let the bank know she wanted to close her account in February this year.

Doctor's letter

The bank wanted a letter from Miss Woolstenhulme's GP and at first she refused because she was so upset to be asked, said Mrs Peppercorn.

A few months later on a visit to the GP about another matter, the family explained the situation to the doctor and he agreed to write to the bank.

The whole situation is just so annoying
Lynda Peppercorn, niece

The letter was lost, said the family, and despite a copy being sent to the bank in Oldham which holds the account, RBS had still not reopened the account.

But the bank said it was currently waiting for the GP to confirm the authenticity of his letter because it had not been on headed paper.

"Our first and foremost priority is always to protect our customer and their assets and should we have any reason to believe that this might have been compromised, we are duty bound to act, especially when any request to close an account is made by a third party," a spokesman said.

The family have contacted the financial ombudsman service but the adjudicator said he was unable to uphold their complaint that the bank acted incorrectly.

"We just don't know what to do now," said Mrs Peppercorn at the family home in Benllech on Anglesey.

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) said there had been an increase in the number of complaints it received from older people - classed as over 65 years old.

In 2005/2006 the service - which mediates between customers and the financial institutions - received 23,714 complaints from the over-65 age group, compared to 15,535 the previous year.

"We have been made to feel like criminals, like we're after her money," said Mrs Peppercorn.

"The whole situation is just so annoying and it's mad really to treat an elderly lady like this," she added.

Banking complaints rise
23 Jul 02 |  Business

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