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article imageWatch Out, Watch Out, Your Bank Is About

By Michelle Duffy     Apr 4, 2007 in Lifestyle
Many a student has found themselves short of cash at one point or another, so when young Rosanna Cobb wrote out a cheque, she didn't think it was too serious that it left her 95p overdrawn
Little did the young girl know. At only 20 year sold, she had better things to worry about, but all the time she didn't put any money back into her account after, her bank, the Nationwide had added around £20 in charges.
Stunned, shocked and down right scared, Miss Cobb, couldn't believe what had happened to her account which when she found out, had left her owing £250 in over draft charges. What had angered her even more was that the bank had, no way, tried to contact her to tell her what was happening.
"I had no idea the account, which I had not used in ages, was overdrawn," she said. "I was away at university for long periods of time. When I returned I found a massive pile of letters from the Nationwide waiting for me and an overall overdraft of almost £250."
They also informed her that it would effect her future credit rating badly - not the sort of news you want to hear when you are young and have your life ahead of you. So, like any other decent human being, she paid the £125 fee as quickly as she could since the bank had said they would pay the rest.
Still, she was not best pleased with what had happened, so unlike many young people, she actually decided to take it further and got in contact with her local MP to write a letter to the bank for a reasonable explanation.
The Liberal Dem MP, Vince Cable wrote and Miss Cobb got another letter. This time to say that now her bank account had been closed.
This news only saddened the Leeds University student even more and wasn't sure what left there was to do. All she could think of was not to bank with them again and warn others to steer clear of the Nationwide.
"It is hard enough for students to cope financially without these totally unnecessary charges being placed on an account," she told The Daily Mail.
As, her MP, Dr Cable notes, "Like most bank overdraft charges these had no legal basis. The banks hope to frighten and intimidate their customers into paying up. Once we stood up to them and threatened the bank with legal action they capitulated."
The general thought for anyone who finds themselves in such a situations should be simple - don't let the bank bully you. Stand up for your rights and confront them. Most of the time, they will not have an explanation for you.
In response to the story, the Nationwide said rather weakly, "We do not have a blanket policy that says yes or no to any refunds. Customers should contact us and we will investigate each one on a case-by-case basis."
The best advice is to check your statements regularly and watch out for any hidden charges which appear in small print on the back.
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