Q Do all banks ask customers why they are making larger than usual withdrawals?
A “Generally speaking, yes,” said a spokesman for the British Bankers Association. “The thinking is that customers want access to their money at any time, but banks also have a duty of care to stop fraud. Cash is a very insecure way to carry large amounts of money and banks want customers to consider other methods such as money transfers or even cheques.”
Q So was it unusual for HSBC to stop withdrawals unless customers gave written evidence of what the cash was going to be used for?
A “I don’t think there are statistics on that,” said the BBA, adding that there are no industry-wide rules on how requests for large amounts of cash should be handled. HSBC has now stressed that customers should not be refused money if they could not show evidence for its use.
Q Is there a maximum amount where a withdrawal would be allowed without questioning?
A “We can’t reveal what that amount is,” said an HSBC spokesman. “The main reason for questioning is to stop financial crime and revealing a cut off point would negate that. Most people would ring ahead if they were going to withdraw a large amount especially as a lot of branches would not keep a lot of cash on site.”