Questions Of Cash: 'What has happened to my policy worth £50,000?'

Q. My wife had a policy with Friends Provident. But on maturity the proceeds were not paid to her, but seem to have been claimed by an employee of the First Trust Bank, with an employee forging my wife's signature. I have complained to the bank and the Financial Ombudsman Service. FOS ruled in the bank's favour, but only because my wife and I wrongly presented our case. Our only option now seems to be to take a legal action against the bank employee, which is prohibitively expensive. AN, Northern Ireland.

A. First Trust's parent, the Allied Irish Bank in Dublin, declined to discuss your concerns in detail. But it says these have previously been "comprehensively investigated and addressed" and were not upheld by the Financial Ombudsman (FOS).

The FOS employed a handwriting specialist to analyse the signatures on the policy documentation. That specialist agreed the signature on the policy documentation was not that of your wife or you. But the expert dismissed your claim that the bank employee you named forged your wife's signature. The Financial Ombudsman did not seek to determine where the funds from the policy went. It is not clear now, some time after the Ombudsman's investigation, why this is – but the Ombudsman may have felt this was beyond his remit.

Friends Provident also consulted a handwriting expert, who agreed your wife's signature was forged. The company will not disclose where the proceeds of your wife's policy ended up, but said these went to an "institution", not an individual. Friends Provident believes that if you wish to proceed further you should seek a legal remedy, either by suing the bank employee you believe stole your wife's money, or else by reporting the alleged fraud to the police. We think you have no realistic chance of success in taking an action against the bank employee, unless you have evidence of which we are unaware.

Having completed a complex series of inquiries, we believe that the policy was lodged with the bank as security for loans. When those loans were not repaid, the proceeds of the policy were used to repay those loans. Neither Friends Provident nor First Trust Bank is willing to discuss this possibility. When we asked you whether this was likely, you confirmed it was – but said that the loans were for about £10,000, compared to the policy value in excess of £50,000. We asked First Trust whether this was the correct interpretation of events and, if so, to provide a detailed account of how any proceeds of the policy might have been applied. It declined to comment on this. We suggest you now contact First Trust with the same request.

Q. In March, I wrote to my Lloyds branch in Bournemouth asking them to note my change of address from Thailand to the Philippines. I asked Lloyds to confirm it had done this, but did not receive a reply. I emailed several times before I received a letter of confirmation, with a cheque for £25 to apologise for poor service. Lloyds explained it could not credit my account as it was dormant. This was a surprise to me.

The British Bankers' Association says accounts will not become dormant if there has been movement in the account in the previous year. I paid a credit into my account in June last year and another in the February just gone, so my account should not have become dormant. I made a further credit into my Lloyds account in May, which was also accepted.

In June, Lloyds phoned to confirm my account was dormant, but was unable to explain why. To reactivate my account I must send a certified copy of my passport. Lloyds did the same thing to me in 2007, when there had also been movement in my account in the previous year. This is a serious inconvenience for me as I travel frequently on business, so I must visit a British Embassy, stay overnight while a document is prepared and pay a fee. In 2007 Lloyds paid the fee as it accepted it had made the mistake. Now Lloyds simply says that it has written to my mailing address. NL, Philippines.

A. There appear to be different interpretations of what amounts to account activity – the bank does not accept that payments into your account represents "activity". Lloyds says that you have not "used [your] account" since 2005, though it confirms that "contrary to normal procedure, [it has] accepted one or two small electronic credits into the account".

Having classified your account as dormant, the bank is committed to following its own procedures. These involve you proving once more who you are. As you live abroad, Lloyds requires you to submit a new copy of the signature mandate form, plus a photocopy of your passport, stamped by another bank, lawyer, embassy official, chartered accountant or medical doctor, certifying that it is a true copy of an original document. If you want to keep your Lloyds account live, you must make payments from the account more frequently in future.

Q. I applied for a Santander Zero credit card, but have been refused. Although I have a mortgage, I do not otherwise have any debts. I thought this would make me a good credit risk, but I have been refused the card. Can you get them to reconsider? HP, Co Down.

A. We tried – and failed. You have been just too responsible. Your credit scoring record is not good, simply because you have not been borrowing money. Therefore there is no history of debt repayment (other than your mortgage). Abbey, the Santander subsidiary that handles applications for the Zero card, says you are now out of time to appeal against its decision. It adds that if you "opt-in" to allow your personal accounts records held by your bank to be shared with other lenders, Abbey may then be able to approve your application if you reapply. But it warns – unhelpfully, in our view – that it may reject the application anyway because you would then be applying within six months of having being rejected.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But if you have a financial dilemma, we'll do our best to help. Please email us at:

Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Trade Desk Specialist (Linux, Windows, FIX, Finance, Networks)

    £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (Linux, Windows, FIX...

    Associate CXL Consultant

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

    Project Manager - ETRM/CTRM

    £70000 - £90000 per annum + Job Satisfaction: Harrington Starr: Project Manage...

    C#.NET Developer

    £300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL,MVVM, SOA...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform