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Tens of thousands of Ulster Bank account holders do nothing even as accounts frozen


Ulster Bank chief executive Jane Howard, whose bank is pulling out of this country.

Ulster Bank chief executive Jane Howard, whose bank is pulling out of this country.

Ulster Bank chief executive Jane Howard, whose bank is pulling out of this country.

Thousands of customers of Ulster Bank have failed to respond after the departing bank froze their current accounts.

Some 20,000 consumers who have current accounts with the bank have yet to close their accounts after being given six months’ notice to shut them and put new banking arrangements in place.

The bank’s chief executive Jane Howard told TDs and senators at the Oireachtas Finance Committee that these people are still using these accounts.

Most deposit and current account holders have closed their accounts and set up new ones with other providers, the committee was told.

The bank said that 91pc of personal current accounts have been closed, increasing to 95pc when personal deposit accounts are included.

But a number of customers were holding out.

Ms Howard said: “Despite all of our best efforts there are circa 20,000 personal current accounts that have gone beyond their six-month notice period, have not requested an extension that have six or more transactions in the past month so these customers appear to still be reliant on us.

“We are now moving to freeze these accounts as a last attempt to engage with these customers.”

Customers who have gone beyond the six months’ notice period can have the freezing of the account reversed if they contact the bank.

But so far the 20,000 or so customers who are still using their current accounts to carry out their day-to-day banking have yet to make contact with Ulster Bank, which plans to have pulled out of this country later this year.

Ms Howard told the politicians there are around 6,500 customers in arrears on their overdraft

Most owe less than €1,000.

The committee was told there are around 26,000 KBC customers who need to open a new account with a different provider as they were not part of the transfer deal with Bank of Ireland.

Chief executive of KBC Ireland, Frank Jansen, said all current account customers have been issued closure orders.

Mr Jansen said bank estimates show the number who need to open an account or move to a new provider is down 50pc to 26,000.

“I can confirm that all current account customers have now received account closure notices.”

He said the bank has seen a significant decline in overall activity across current accounts with debit card transactions down 61pc, account balances down 50pc and direct debits down over 60pc to 82,000.

“Another key indicator of declining activity is the level of social welfare payments paid into current accounts, that has decreased by 75pc, with just 3,200 accounts remaining in receipt of payments.”

Ulster Bank will close its branches on April 21, but services will cease from March 31, including An Post services.

“This means from March 31, customers will no longer be able to make cash or cheque lodgments either at the counter or through internal automation devices or make any form of a withdrawal at an Ulster Bank branch, except for ATM services.

“Our colleagues will remain in the branches for a further three weeks to help customers complete their move.”

Ulster Bank has closed 25 branches which are now part of Permanent TSB.

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