Woman's life in chaos after bank declares her dead

M&S Bank apologises for error

Alison Lattimer

A woman's life was turned upside down after M&S Bank got the idea she was dead - and even insisted to the Post Office that this was the case.

Northumberland woman Alison Lattimer had her credit card and all her standing orders and direct debits cancelled by the bank, after it wrongly added a note to her account saying she was deceased.

This meant that the 56-year-old's home and car insurance policies were voided, and she was given automatic refunds on her gym membership and contact lenses. Her salary payments, council tax, energy bills and Sky TV were also cancelled.

Her debit card was first declined and then swallowed by an ATM.

The Post Office cancelled her home insurance and even sent her family a letter of condolence. Even after she phoned and explained that she was very much alive, the policy was cancelled for a second time.

Mrs Lattimer says the experience has left her on the brink of a breakdown. "It was a horrible time, I would not like to go through it again," she told the Northumberland Chronicle.

The trouble began when Mrs Lattimer, a technology analyst, called in at the M&S Bank at Intu Metrocentre in Gateshead in June in order to transfer the account she held with TSB.

However, instead of processing the transfer correctly, the bank added the 'deceased' note to her account.

The bank has now apologised, reimbursed Mrs Lattimer for her losses, and paid an undisclosed sum in compensation. It says it's working to put all her standing orders and direct debits back in place, although she'll have to reinstate some of them herself.

But the chaos caused by the error shows just how much we depend on our banks - and this is by no means the first time this has happened.

In May, for example, Julia Welch, from Totnes in Devon, received a letter from Tesco Bank asking for her next of kin to post her death certificate and last will and testament. Her children found the letter, and feared that their mother was dying.

Meanwhile, Lloyds customer Ashley Flynn was also told he was dead by his bank, leaving him locked out of his bank account. His credit rating vanished, and he was unable to get a mortgage in his own name.

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