BoI’s rules snub elderly people - Banking changes

ACCORDING to the National Digital Strategy only 3% of people aged over 75 have ever used the internet and the majority of people aged 60 and over have never been online.

BoI’s rules snub elderly people - Banking changes

So, how on earth does Bank of Ireland expect its older customers to cope with its decision to take from them the facility to engage face to face with an official when withdrawing or lodging modest amounts of money?

Bank of Ireland says customers will soon no longer be able to withdraw less than €700 or lodge less than €3,000 at the counter in some of its branches. Instead, customers will have to use ATMs or electronic banking.

That can only mean that, unless older customers take courses in electronic banking, they will be forced to keep at home, or carry around on their person, fairly large sums of money.

Who, apart from Bank of Ireland, will benefit from this?

The answer to that is burglars.

The bank has promised that branch teams will be available to help customers. But, will they be available to help when the homes of elderly are broken into as some customers will feel compelled to stash hundreds or thousands in a drawer?

Will they be available to wrestle a robber to the ground when an elderly person is relieved of his or her €700 or €3,000?

This is an insensitive, thoughtless exercise in ageism, an attack on older people and, in particular, an attack on older people living in rural Ireland where ATMs and internet coverage are as rare as a banker’s heart.

Even in Ireland’s towns and cities hundreds of ATMs have been boarded up as bank branches closed during the recession. For example, in some parts of the northside of Cork City, getting to the nearest ATM involves a walk of a kilometre or more.

However, elderly people living in remote areas will fare worst of all. They have already seen the end of their local post offices and Garda stations and a huge diminution of their ability to go about their daily business as a result of the depersonalisation of services.

This cruel decision is bound to make their lives even more difficult.

Age Action has accused Bank of Ireland of ignoring the needs of its older customers with the new rules.

Head of advocacy and communications at Age Action Justin Moran said: “Many of our members are already frustrated with how difficult some banks make it to engage face to face. The changes proposed by Bank of Ireland, trying to force people to carry out their business online, are only going to make that worse and it’s clear older people were completely ignored in making this decision.”

Don’t be surprised if this decision leads to an increase in housebreaking and robberies which are already at record levels.

That will leave burglars laughing, literally, all the way to the bank. They won’t have to worry about these new restrictions, either. Their pockets will be full.

The trouble is, that money won’t be their own.

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