My daughter was targeted by fraudsters in November last year.
She has learning difficulties as a result of contracting meningitis as a baby, and was born with part of her arm missing. While she strives to be independent, at 34 she is immature and vulnerable for her age.
She had received a text message that appeared to come from Halifax asking if she had made a £186 payment to Amazon. When she replied ‘No’, fraudsters called her within minutes.
Phone con: Halifax did not refund a customer who fell victim to a mobile phone text scam in which she lost over £4,000
Posing as Halifax, the criminal said her account had been compromised and she would need to move her money to a ‘safe account’.
My daughter was suspicious and said she’d visit her local branch to resolve the matter. But the fraudster said the branch was closed due to Covid.
To reassure her, he called her back from what looked like the phone number on the back of her bank card.
But after she transferred £4,043, the crook vanished and her bank won’t refund her.
H. H., via email.
Tony Hazell replies: Halifax was able to recover £3,000 of your daughter’s money but this still leaves a £1,043 loss.
You say the only contact your daughter had from the bank was a letter informing her she had not carried out sufficient checks before making the payment, which meant Halifax was not liable. When you tried to call its helpline, you were unable to get through.
I don’t think this is any way to treat a victim of fraud, particularly a customer who is so vulnerable.
When Halifax signed up to a new code of conduct in May 2019, it pledged to treat fraud victims fairly and refund blameless customers who had done all they could to protect themselves.
I’m not sure what more the bank could have expected your daughter to do. The fraudster had an answer for everything, knew many details about her account and appeared to be calling from the bank’s phone number.
Halifax says it was unaware of your daughter’s health conditions. Now that it is, it has agreed to reimburse the remaining £1,043. What a shame it couldn’t just do the right thing in the first place.
Blighted Butlin’s trip
My partner and I visited Butlin’s in Skegness last year and another guest vomited all over us. It ruined our evening and our plans for the rest of our break.
Butlin’s refused to see it as its problem and, as well as not offering us an upgrade on another holiday, it did not even make a goodwill payment.
I decided to use the online small claims service to request £250 compensation, plus fees of £25. Butlin’s didn’t respond to the court, so it ruled in my favour in late November.
I’ve tried to find out when Butlin’s will make the payment but have not received a response from the firm.
If it wanted to do everything possible to ensure that I never go back, it has ticked all the boxes so far.
P. B., Milton Keynes, Bucks.
Tony Hazell replies: Being vomited on was no doubt unpleasant, but I fail to see how this was the resort’s fault, unless it had continued to serve a drunk guest or provided food that made them ill.
Despite this, Butlin’s says it offered to dry clean your clothes and post them to you.
This you accepted, but failed to mention in your email. It also offered you a discount on a future stay, which you refused. You were determined to get compensation, so took legal action.
Butlin’s did not manage to respond to the small claims paperwork in time due to an internal mix up, for which it apologises.
But it says it tried to contact you on eight occasions, including two calls in November, in a bid to find a solution.
The day I spoke to Butlin’s, someone from its customer care team called you to apologise and arrange a bank transfer of £275.
I think, in this case, the success of your claim was down to luck.
You have YOUR say
Every week Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some regarding our report on the difficulties facing first-time buyers:
Most Europeans rent and don’t moan about it. It’s time for politicians to accept that property prices are now beyond affordable for many.
They should focus on making renting less of a stigma by clamping down on rogue landlords.
H. B., Manchester.
It took my partner and I years of saving before we had enough money for a deposit.
We are on average incomes and have no children, and we bought our first house at 37.
My parents saved for a deposit on one income and bought their first home at 23.
C. S., Southport, Merseyside.
Our sons are 25 and 27 and both bought their own homes without having to borrow large sums of money from us.
We paid their university fees and ensured they weren’t lumbered with large student loans and usurious rates of interest.
R. T., via email.
I work in a supermarket with quite a few young couples. Most have managed to buy a property, even though they earn well below the national average. You can’t own your dream home straight away — you need to start modestly.
S. A., Norfolk.
I’m 31 and struggling to get on the property ladder. I’m a single woman and have a decent salary, but there are no flats I could afford in my area.
I enquired about a property which wasn’t due to be built until September, but it was already sold.
P. C., Buckinghamshire.
I was lucky to be able to rent out three flats and use the profits on their sale as my children’s deposits. I don’t know how kids manage without help like this.
S. M., St Albans, Herts.
HMRC says I owe £412 but doesn’t know why
I worked with Durham police in a civilian role until May last year, paying basic-rate income tax on my salary. I receive my personal allowance on a Met Police pension. My state pension started in July last year.
HMRC wrote in August saying I owed £412 and that my tax code would be adjusted to recover the sum. I called HMRC and was told it ‘could not see why it was owed or from where’.
The owed sum was deferred but I’ve now received a letter informing me I still owe £412 from a previous tax year. It’s unacceptable that HMRC can’t tell me where this is from.
N. O., Newcastle upon Tyne.
Tony Hazell replies: There’s a simple explanation and I’m surprised that those you spoke to at HMRC did not offer it. Your state pension is taxable but paid without tax being deducted. HMRC deals with this by deducting your state pension from your personal allowance.
This will be shown on your coding notice before the start of the tax year.
However, in the year that your state pension starts, things can get a little complicated because you are likely to be mid-way through the tax year.
HMRC will adjust the tax codes it provides to employers and private pension providers, but the state pension is backdated and tax code changes can take a while to be acted upon. This led to you receiving four months’ extra tax allowances.
It also turned out that your state pension was a little higher than HMRC had expected. Together these led to an estimated £412 underpayment of tax.
HMRC will review the figure now the tax year has started and will update your records.
Straight to the point
I am an Avon rep and was fined £20 after not paying for an order in full. This was because one item was missing. I was told I would not be charged but I am still receiving payment demands.
C. F., Bristol.
You were so worried you eventually paid the £20. But you have since been refunded, and your account has also been credited with £7.50 as a goodwill gesture.
My parents died in 2014 and I was executor of their estates. How long do I need to keep all the paperwork?
D. S., Long Eaton, Derbys.
June Yap, of online will firm Farewill, says you should hold on to paperwork relating to their estates for at least 12 years.
You should never throw away the grant of probate and birth, marriage or death certificates.
In October, I ordered £242 of red wine from Winebuyers and was told it would arrive within ten days. It never did and I still haven’t received a refund.
S. W., Chertsey, Surrey.
By coincidence, Winebuyers processed your refund a couple of hours before I highlighted your case and it arrived the next day.
A spokesman says its service has been hit by a surge in demand.
I cancelled my Sky contract and was given a termination date in December. This came and went but my services remained.
Now Sky is threatening to pass my supposed arrears to debt collectors.
G. J., via email.
Sky says your contract was not cancelled in October as you stopped replying during an online chat conversation.
You did not pay your bill that month, so it sent you a reminder to say you owed £125.50. The debt then increased to £184.
Sky apologises for not resolving the issue sooner and has now waived the charge.
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