The 5 Steps for Reclaiming your Bank Charges

By: David Lynes

Over recent months most consumers in the UK have become aware of the controversy surrounding banks charges. Following a review last year financial regulators in the UK stated that these fees were unfair and unlawful as they did not reflect the actual cost incurred by the bank. These charges included charges applied to customers' accounts for exceeding overdraft limits, for returned cheques and direct debits, and for having to send out certain letters to customers.

As a result of the ruling by these financial regulators customers have been urged to contact their banks and claim back any charges that have been applied to their accounts in the past six years. Although there are various companies and no win no fee lawyers that offer to help consumers to do this, there are some simple steps that can be followed that may enable you to get back these charges without having to pay any commission to an outside agency.

1. Order your bank statements going back up to six years. The cheaper option may be to ask your bank to send a list of all charges applied to your account within this time, which by law should take them no longer than 40 days and should cost a maximum of ?10.

2. Once you receive your bank statements or list of charges go through them carefully and pick out any charges that you intend to reclaim. Highlight them on the statements, and make sure that you photocopy them so you have one set of statements/charge details for your own use.

3. Once you have listed all charges total them up. You should then compile a letter to the bank stating that as a result of the ruling by the Office of Fair Trading you would like ?x amount of money (the amount that you feel you are owed) refunded to your account (or sent by cheque if your account is now closed).

4. Wait two weeks for a response from the bank. If there is no response by this time you may want to write again, or better still make a phone call to follow up your letter. Many banks will try stalling and delay tactics, but you should keep on to them and where necessary advise you are considering court action.

5. If the bank does not come back with a satisfactory response to your claim you should consider contacting the Financial Ombudsman Service. Although at this stage you could consider court action it may be quicker and less troublesome to go through the FOS first for a decision. If the decision is not the one that you hoped for you can still take the matter to court. You can take court action by visiting the local county court, or more conveniently by registering your case online using the court's Money Claims service, which is operated online.

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