Bank crisis bites

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AS the Ulster Bank crisis continues the Citizens Advice Bureau has issued advice for customers.

They have urged Ulster Bank customers who are worried about accessing cash, paying bills or going overdrawn to contact the bank as soon as possible.

The bank has suggested that problems may last for the rest of this week.

A spokesman for the CAB said: “Given that many salary payments will be due in coming days, as well as scheduled major payments such as mortgages or rent, it makes sense to err on the side of caution and make arrangements.

“Do not assume that the bank will automatically compensate you for costs which are incurred due to this problem - make the bank aware of them as soon as you can. Be careful to log direct (e.g. overdraft charges) and indirect costs which you face due to the bank’s failure.”

Ulster Bank has informed Citizens Advice that wages or benefits will be paid over the counter in branch to people with ID and relevant documentation (e.g. payslip).

If you wish to make a complaint about the handling of your account, complain first to the bank. If unsatisfied, you can then contact the Financial Ombudsman Service: Phone 0300 123 9 123 or 0800 023 4567 (they will be happy to phone you back)

Email complaint.info@financial-ombudsman.org.uk

Website www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau (based on Union Street) will be happy to help you to deal with either the bank or in pursuing a complaint to the Ombudsman.

The ‘MAIL’ has learned Lurgan is not among 32 Ulster Bank branches in the province will remain open late for the rest of the week as the bank continues to deal with a backlog of transactions following a computer failure.

The closest branches open late are in Portadown and Armagh.

The bank has said it may be the end of the week before normal service resumes.

About 27,000 social security agency customers have been affected by the problems, the assembly has been told.

Technical problems meant that accounts had not been credited with benefits but claimants would be able to collect funds up to a limit from the bank with proof of identification.

The bank said the scale of the backlog was “unprecedented” and warned it could be a week before operations return to normal.

Meanwhile, the Northern Bank said a technical fault that caused problems for some customers has been fixed. It said it was working to re-establish all of its systems as quickly as possible.

At the weekend, Ulster Bank branches opened to deal with problems created by the failure.

Chris Sullivan, chief executive of corporate banking at RBS, which owns Ulster Bank, said every effort was being made to ensure customers were not disadvantaged.

“We are putting all of our efforts into ensuring that nobody is out of pocket in this situation. We have a team working on all eventualities,” he said.

“We are really sorry this has occurred. This is the last thing any bank would want. We are taking this really seriously.”