Guides & How To's

Why has my account been blocked? Your questions answered

Picture this, you have what shopping you need at the checkout, you are in a hurry to pay and get home but your account has been blocked.  Fuming, you leave the shopping…

Woman looking at her laptop screen stressed that her debit card account has been blocked

Picture this, you have what shopping you need at the checkout, you are in a hurry to pay and get home but your account has been blocked.  Fuming, you leave the shopping where it is and stomp out of the shop. You know you have money in there, you know it hasn’t been stolen so why?  Why?  Why? Why?

Everyone knows that banks will freeze an account when reported stolen or if you have attempted fraud.  For the average person who has neither of the above it can be frustrating at best and really problematic at worst.

What it means if your account is blocked

When your account is blocked it means you can’t make any purchases using your debit card.  It also means any direct debits or standing orders will not be processed.  Access to your funds will also be blocked therefore, you can’t withdraw cash out at ATM or Post Office and you can’t make any payment transfers.

The main reasons accounts are blocked:

  • To protect you from unauthorised access
  • Suspected fraud
  • Lack of use
  • Suspicious transactions
  • Disputes with your bank
  • Reported lost or stolen

What most account holders don’t know is that many digital banks don’t set the rules around blocking accounts.  It is the ‘issuing’ bank that sets the rules around account freezing and processing transactions.  These companies provide the technology to enable your account provider to exist, they have the relationship with Mastercard or Visa and they set the regulate the account features and restrictions.

Why is it happening more often?

In 2002 the Proceeds of Crime Act came into place and banks are under a legal obligation to ensure they monitor customer accounts for suspicious activity.  As a consequence, this is now a much more common reason that banks freeze accounts, even if it for a payment of £40.

Fraud has risen dramatically in the UK over recent years.  £754 million was stolen from customer accounts in 2021 which was a 30% rise from 2020.  Furthermore, transfer scams amounted to £355 million, an increase of 17%.  The data reported shows a fraud scam is happening to 24 people an hour in the UK, amounting to £2 million per day.

What to do it if is blocked?

  • Contact your bank and find out.  It can be a quick and easy process.
  • Access your online banking and check if there have been any payments made or received out of the ordinary
  • Open a new bank account

How do I avoid being blocked in the future?

It is not possible to predict when your bank will freeze your account but to minimise the chances of your account being block we suggest you:

  • Contact your bank if you are expecting an odd payment into your account or going out of your account.  This will forewarn the Fraud team and they may be less likely to freeze the account if it is an expected payment.
  • Ensure you used pins entry after your 5th contactless payment
  • Don’t give your debit card to anyone else to use
  • Understand the limits to your account and don’t use it outside of those limits

Summary

Having your account frozen can be really disruptive and cost you money if In summary, having your account frozen can be really disruptive and cost you money if direct debits bounce.  The banks are legally bound through the POCA (Proceeds of Crime Act) to monitor every transaction on your account.  Notably, most of the monitoring is conducted through technology with rules pre-set by the issuing bank.  This monitoring is in place to protect you from fraud and accounts that have been frozen, if there has been no suspicious activity will be unfrozen quickly.

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