In response to our August newsletter article about money woes in the face of Covid (Coronavirus blues), we received an email from one of our newsletter subscribers, Ken Holmes in New Zealand. Ken has raised concerns around the phasing out of cheques.
I consider there has arisen another very important matter, which in this case, callously introduces another vulnerability for older people, which should not have been needed.
In New Zealand, all the banks have confirmed that cheques will no longer be accepted as a money transaction vehicle from June 2021 at the latest (some banks have already imposed this step).
I believe that most of our “seniors” retain an in-built strong preference to trust others as part of their generational culture, and now without cheques we simply have to give ANYBODY who plans to pay us any sum OUR BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER AND ACCOUNT HOLDER NAME DETAILS (as we can no longer ask them to simply send us a cheque in the post).
This new situation is clearly providing fraudsters, thieves, scammers, etc with an especially helpful edge of CREDABILITY when they begin their telephone conversation with unsuspecting seniors by suggesting they are an investigator who has been issued with such detail by your bank in order to catch/stop an international thief they have been watching for some time and whom they believe is now attempting to take funds from your account.
You will realise that well-through the beautifully scripted telephone call, you are asked to assist the authorities to help them catch this thief per courtesy of setting a trap around your own account for which purpose your assistance is limited to simply providing your account password.
Citizen Advice Bureaus here tell me they record case examples of the above reported by seniors WEEKLY.
I just wondered if this is an issue in Australia ?
Thank you and best wishes.
KEN R HOLMES
Thanks for your email. It is indeed concerning how changes to the NZ banking industry may affect older people. I know it has been talked about for a number of years in Australia but there has not been a set date as yet. I found this article about a statement from the head of the Australian Reserve Bank.
and on the ABC. Concerns have been raised by the head of National Seniors.
As you may already have been told, one of the reasons for phasing out cheques was because they are a costly financial instrument. It costs the bank something like $130 per cheque when you count in all the staff handling it takes. However, I think you raise a very valid point about fraudsters and scammers taking advantage of such changes.
May I publish your letter in our next newsletter? We can see what comments it may extract.
Thanks for your support.
You are very welcome to publish my letter further if you wish. As regards the cost to banks for processing cheques, the article you showed me is further indication of decline in numbers of cheques being used overall, and therefore decline in costs to the banks, so they should not complain. I suggest the “seniors” are the customers leaving banks with term deposit funds to sell to younger customers on mortgages and overdrafts, despite having to suffer the rapid decline in TD interest rates.
Further to the below, I think Peter Ryan’s suggested timeline of 20 – 30 years lead time would solve the problem for Australia, and I see that as probably the preferred answer here also.
I can certainly tell you that in NZ a wide range of organisations on behalf of Seniors are objecting to the nominated deadline of June 2021, but it looks that the banking industry here is determined to ignore them all.