You are currently viewing “She lives in fear”: due to an error by her bank, Florence, 84, must prove that her husband died more than 30 years ago to unfreeze her account

“She lives in fear”: due to an error by her bank, Florence, 84, must prove that her husband died more than 30 years ago to unfreeze her account

  • Post category:Economy News
  • Reading time:5 mins read

“Following a bank error, my 84-year-old grandmother is asked to prove the death of my grandfather, which occurred more than 30 years ago”, writes Elodie (assumed first name via the button orange Alert us). The young woman tells us about the misadventure experienced by her grandmother, a client at BNP Paribas Fortis.

The BNP Paribas Fortis branch which was enthroned on Place Saint-Denis in Forest is no longer. A few weeks ago, the bank branch closed its doors and merged with that of Anderlecht.

And for Florence (assumed name), 84 years old, it’s the beginning of trouble. “She doesn’t move around easily and they take her away from her very close to home. It’s already embarrassing her,” says Elodie. A few days ago, she went to her new reference bank branch to consult her accounts. “The banker, who knows her well, says ‘Congratulations, I see you got married.’ married to a 21 year old young man… who has the same name as her”, reports Elodie. The error is obvious, Florence asks that her file be corrected.

She never got over it, it’s very difficult for her

“The banker tells him ‘We’re going to divorce you electronically'”, continues Elodie. An affront for this octogenarian, widow since 1990. “She lost her husband suddenly to a heart attack. She never recovered, it’s very difficult for her”testifies the young woman.

To rectify Florence’s file, the bank therefore carries out a procedure which consists of notifying that she is divorced. Before declaring her a widow again. Unfortunately, the correction is not immediate and proofs are requested from Florence. “His savings account was frozen pending receipt of my grandfather’s death certificate. It’s scandalous”denounces Elodie.

Everything is expensive and now my account is being frozen

For a few days, Florence therefore lives “in fear of seeing her payments refused”. Because the octogenarian has the habit of regularly making small transfers between his savings account and his current account in order to meet his needs. Unaware of how much is left in her checking account, she limits her transactions. “She was very frustrated. When she went to the store, she was afraid that her card would be refused. Every Friday, she normally goes to the hairdresser. She preferred to cancel. Morally, it was not going at all”describes his granddaughter. “She told me ‘Everything is expensive and now they are freezing my account'”she adds.

The resident of Forest has tried to know her balance during this transition period. But here again, obstacles have arisen. Without internet, it is impossible to consult your accounts online. “She called her agency and she was told ‘Wait Madam, we’re sending you to the robot’. She was lost. ‘I don’t understand what world we live in anymore,’ she told me. She couldn’t do anything alone” , sI’m sorry Elodie.

What happened ?

Fortunately, the situation was quickly resolved thanks to the responsiveness of his banking establishment. After several emails exchanged between management and Florence’s family, her bank account was able to be unblocked, a week later, without bringing the missing death certificate. “They found it in their archives”, loose Elodie.

How could such an error occur? After investigation, Hilde Junius, spokesperson for BNP Paribas, enlightens us. During a bank move, all customer files must also be transferred. This procedure is automatic.

A human error

However, it happens that a customer asks to be transferred to another establishment of his choice, for reasons of displacement for example. This was the case of Florence. The latter chose not to be transferred to the BNP Paribas bank in Anderlecht but to another establishment. In this case, the transfer is not done automatically but manually. And it was during this procedure that there was a human error, explains Hilde Junius.

“The computer asks the collaborator if he wants to associate the accounts of people with the same name in the same household. By mistake, a collaborator clicked on ‘Yes’. And that’s how the lady ended up married to a gentleman of the same name”, explains the spokesperson. In this case, it is indeed a human error. “We understand it can be stressful and frustrating. We apologize to this family.” concludes Hilde Junius.

According to the latest figures from Febelfin, more and more Belgians are doing their banking online. The majority of Belgians hardly ever go to a bank branch anymore. This trend towards the digitization of operations results in a contraction of the current branch network. At the end of 2021, Belgium thus had only 3,815 physical bank branches, a decrease of 9.8% compared to the previous year. In 2008, Belgium still had more than 8,000 branches.