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Banks records: can you always get what you want?

Banks records: can you always get what you want?

24 June 2014

Retention of records quick guide

Customers are entitled to access records of their dealings with their bank but may be frustrated if the bank can’t produce either historical records or original documents, says Banking Ombudsman Deborah Battell.

The scheme has just published a guide explaining how long banks are required to keep different types of information, what form that information can be held in and what rights customers have to access information their bank holds on them.

“People do not expect their request for personal information to be turned down and sometimes complain to the Banking Ombudsman. The guide sets out how we may be able to help, but also lets people know that sometimes records are simply not available.

“Common complaints are that a bank does not have records which go back as far as a customer wants or that original hard-copy documents are not available.

“Banks are only required to keep transaction documents for seven years, and these days records are held in electronic form rather than hard copy. The fact that a bank cannot produce an original hard copy loan document, for example, does not mean the loan is invalid.

“We also hear from people who think the bank should have records of all discussions between them. Banks are not legally required to take or keep these records and they make their own decisions about these matters.

“Nevertheless, our office certainly encourages banks to keep good records of discussions, customer instructions and the bank’s responses as they are often crucial in resolving complaints,” Ms Battell said.

The guide also explains the required timeframes a bank has to meet when providing a customer’s personal information, and its obligations to explain why if it declines a request.


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