For updated information surrounding the Coronavirus please check the government website: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Remain vigilant to scammers
Fraudsters are taking advantage of the current pandemic. Almost £2 million has been lost to Coronavirus-related fraud across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For example, online shopping fraud when someone is conned into paying for protective face masks or hand sanitiser that do not exist.
Remember that your bank will never:
Government wage furlough scheme
The wage furlough scheme should be open for applications around 20 April. There will be a few days between the submission of applications and receiving of cash to allow time for the processing of claims and carrying out fraud checks.
Free school meal vouchers
Families eligible for supermarket vouchers because their children receive free school meals are facing delays of up to a week in getting their supermarket vouchers due to problems with the application software. The website was upgraded at the weekend to try and speed up the process.
Coronavirus: Ask-a-friend cash access scheme extended
Anyone who is self-isolating may be able to ask a trusted friend or volunteer to withdraw cash at any Post Office using a single-use voucher. The Post Office scheme is being extended and offered to all banks, building societies and credit unions. If the bank allows it, a customer can request a one-time barcode sent via text, email or post for a set amount. A trusted friend or volunteer can exchange the voucher for the cash requested.
The Fast PACE system service that allows vulnerable customers to contact their bank and arrange to cash a cheque at a Post Office branch is also being sped up. The customer first needs to contact their bank and check they can use the service. They then write a cheque to “The Post Office”, print the name on the back of the cheque of the person collecting it for them and sign that side too. The named person can then collect the cash from a Post Office branch after their ID is verified. At its fastest, the whole process from the initial call to the cash being collected could take a day.
BUT, people should only use friends and volunteers who they completely trust. Never be put under any pressure to withdraw cash.
Coronavirus – banks flag up unusual “online” payments
Some customers who have changed their “normal” shopping habits, for example using the internet for the first time for a grocery delivery have had their payment flagged up as “suspicious activity” and blocked. As a result they have lost their shopping slot, which particularly affects those self-isolating.
Also, under new regulations payment providers are increasing security for internet shopping and banking. Instead of entering just your name and card details, the customer may also be sent a verification code to input to the retailer’s payment page. The one off codes are usually sent by text message. However, those without mobile phones or in rural areas with poor signal are not being offered an alternative.
Coronavirus – overdrafts
Improved overdraft facilities are being offered by the banking groups after the Financial Conduct Authority warned them not to put customers in a worse position following planned overdraft rate rises earlier this month.
Lloyds banking group is now offering customers £500 interest free overdrafts for 3 months from April 9, previously it was £300. Credit card customers can ask to have their interest frozen for 30 days and a 3 month payment holiday.
HSBC is temporarily reducing its overdraft interest rate from 39.9% to 19.9% and suspending its late credit card fee for 3 months.
Santander customers will be given a 0% overdraft of £500 between April 6 and July 9.