How you can detect bank overcharging

An accountant has set up a website which enables people to check if they are being done out of £400 a year.

A website has been launched this week to help customers recoup the astonishing £5bn a year banks are overcharging them. The site, which is called www.checkyourbank.com, allows you to enter your statement details online and will tell you if you have been overcharged and by how much.

A website has been launched this week to help customers recoup the astonishing £5bn a year banks are overcharging them. The site, which is called www.checkyourbank.com, allows you to enter your statement details online and will tell you if you have been overcharged and by how much.

It will also tell you if you have been undercharged or if your charges are correct. If you have been overcharged, for a fee of £12.50 the site will provide you with a report of its findings, so you have documentary evidence to take to your bank manager. It even drafts a letter you could use.

Saeid Mokhtassi, the Manchester-based chartered accountant, who set up the site, with Anthony Harrop, said: "The idea behind this is to deliver something up front. Then, if people want more information, they can have it for the cost of £12.50." That may well be worth it. Don Cruickshank's report into banking says, on average, everyone pays a massive £400 over the odds for banking services every year. Some 5,000 people clicked on to checkyourbank in the first 24 hours after it went live on Tuesday.

Mr Mokhtassi set up the site following the findings of the Cruickshank Report, which said banks make profits of between £3bn and £5bn a year which are above normal and reasonable levels of profit.

He began to think about it after his bank overcharged him by £700. Mr Mokhtassi said: "I was appalled when my bank confirmed they had made such a fundamental error, so I began to develop a system which would enable people to check their statements and see if they had been overcharged."

Checkyourbank is being developed off-line and later in the year will be backed up by a network of accountants across the country and contactable by phone.

The team, to be called the Authorised Bureaux, will be particularly well-versed in the intricacies of small business banking. Mr Cruickshank said that 72 per cent of small businesses are being overcharged consistently.

One of the major reasons for the overcharging, the report said, was the lack of competition. The UK's big four banks - Barclays, Lloyds TSB, NatWest and HSBC - hold 83 per cent of accounts generated by small- and medium-sized businesses.

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