Dealing with your Bank

A member of our support group brought up the subject of dealing with her bank – she had problems remembering her PIN and the bank was initially unhelpful. This has prompted us to provide some information on this subject.

Roughly one in six individuals in the UK has some limiting long-term illness, impairment or disability

With an ageing population the number looks set to increase. These people therefore represent a large section of any financial services provider’s customer base and it is in the banks’ interest to provide for them.

Third party delegation

Depending on the bank or building society those who are infirm or in some way unable to do their banking tasks themselves may be able to have a ‘delegation’ or a third party mandate. This might involve the ability for someone else to cash a cheque in a branch. This can be formulated according to individual needs. HSBC is one bank that offers this service.

Santander says it offers a third party authority which is valid for six months.
HSBC is currently reviewing debit cards under third party mandates and hopes to make an announcement on this in the New Year.

The Payments Council is aware of at least one bank which makes unofficial arrangements for one-off payments via an ATM with a third party using a code. This is really meant for emergencies rather than a feature specifically for those who are disabled. Bear in mind this is a rare facility only available on a case-by-case basis.

Match your needs to what there is and know what is out there

The Payments Council says “The main rule of thumb is to find what options work for you such as, for example, telephone banking”.

Be careful

The Payments Council cautions people to be careful when sharing their banking information.  Indeed with these different ways of banking there could be a risk that the security aspects are overlooked by those using them.

Debit and credit cards

If you have memory problems, you may find it difficult to remember PIN numbers for debit or credit cards that have a ‘chip and PIN’ device. Talk to the bank about alternatives, such as a ‘chip and signature’ card.

Don’t forget that you can change your PIN at your bank or building society cash machine to something you find easier to remember. But if you still need some help, here are some tried and tested means of remembering your four-digit PIN:

  • Rather than learn a PIN digit by digit, learn the pattern that you need to trace on the keypad with your fingers
  • To remember a new PIN, you could use an anniversary or friend’s birthday. Use a combination of day and month, or month and year, whichever is easiest to remember – but don’t use numbers that are easily associated with you, like your own date of birth
  • Go into a room on your own and say your PIN aloud several times: just hearing your own voice often helps to deepen the imprint on your memory
  • Similarly, write your PIN down ten or twenty times (make sure that you thoroughly scribble over the numbers or shred the paper before putting it in the bin!)
  • Some people find it helps to break a four-digit PIN down into two lots of two numbers, for example 54 and 68

Talk to your bank about your problems – it is in their interest, as well as yours, to help you overcome your difficulties.  You may find it beneficial to go into the bank and see someone in person rather than phoning a helpline.