Questions of Cash: Why do I have to show ID to get my cash?

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The Independent Online

Q. My NatWest branch has told me that to make cash withdrawals from my current account after October I must prove my identity with a passport, driver's licence with photo, or bank Switch card.

Q. My NatWest branch has told me that to make cash withdrawals from my current account after October I must prove my identity with a passport, driver's licence with photo, or bank Switch card. I don't have a licence or passport and I don't want a cash card because of the risk of fraud. This is an infringement of my civil liberties, introducing ID cards by the back door.
KC, Harrogate.

A. This is not a new requirement by NatWest, but the enforcement of existing rules. It is only because you are well-known to your branch that they are not forcing you to show ID. You evidently do not like it, but given the clampdown on money laundering this is a reality of modern life. Fraud is not a high risk with cash cards, but you can request that your card has its PIN suppressed so that it cannot be used in a cash machine.

Another alternative would be to move your funds to a passbook-based account with a building society or former society. But even with a passbook you might be asked to prove your identity if using it away from your own branch, and you would certainly have to display ID to open a new account.

Q. I pay some of my regular monthly bills using my Co-op Bank Visa debit card. This is the arrangement requested by the service providers. But with two of these - a phone company and an online information database - when the debit card expired and was replaced by a new one, the companies stopped providing their services on the basis that the transactions were no longer authorised. Why can't regular payments continue after a new debit or credit card is issued?
JM, Reading.

A. Visa International says this falls outside its responsibility and is a matter for the bank that issued your card and the retailers' banks. A spokesman for Co-op Bank says retailers can avoid this problem, but to do so they must make arrangements with their own banks for recurring transactions authorisation. Co-op Bank says arranging this facility is likely to generate a charge for the retailer.

Responsibility lies with the companies charging you for the services and they seem not to have discharged this very well. They might not want to incur extra costs, but they should request a new debit card authorisation rather than just cut off the service.

Q. I have an endowment mortgage with Abbey Life. Since completing a questionnaire from Abbey Life in September 2002 I have received letters every six months stating it is reviewing my case. In March this year, Abbey Life asked why I was still paying premiums into the policies - I replied the same month, but still have had no reply. I have now been told the case may not be resolved until December this year. This seems an excessive delay.
SF, Middlesbrough.

A. Abbey Life (part of Scottish Widows, itself owned by Lloyds TSB) accepts that the delays "must be extremely frustrating", but says that it has agreed with the Financial Services Authority a timetable lasting until December to clear the backlog of outstanding complaints. However, it has agreed to bring forward your review and promises to reach a decision within the next week.

The reason for the extensive delay in resolving your complaint is that your mis-selling review was generated not by a complaint from you, but as a result of a pro-active initiative from Abbey Life. Cases generated in this way are not subject to the general requirement that old endowment complaints should have been resolved by April this year.

Q. I worked for B&Q as a graduate management trainee in 1998 and 1999. In January 1999, I was called up to the manager's office, but tripped over a large box inside the doorway which I did not see. I received leg injuries which aggravated a previous injury and caused me to be off work for two days. I recorded the injury in the accident book after returning to work, but B&Q refused to pay me for the days lost as I had worked for them for less than six months. I want to pursue the pay deduction of £120.32, but when I wrote to the company at the end of last year it said that as it the incident was more than three years ago it was unable to help me.
MD, Romford.

A. B&Q says that after four years it is difficult to investigate your claim. It says that it has acted in accordance with its conditions of service, which were communicated to you at the onset of your employment.

Given the lapse of time, you will find it difficult to explore other avenues. Where an employer withholds pay which the employee believes is wrongly withheld, they can lodge a claim through an employment tribunal alleging breach of employment contract. However, claims for wrongly withheld pay must be submitted within three months.

* If you have questions, write to Questions of Cash, 'The Independent', 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail We can reply only to letters published. Please send copies, not originals.

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