Banks Again

Forward plan for financial issues VSO tell you. A handy guide (I think written by a returned vol) lists things you might very well like to consider and/or do such as registering a trusted third-party with your bank.

This would allow you to ask them via email, for example, to transfer some money from your UK account with the oh-so-lovely Co-Op to your shiny new Namibian account with the oh-so-unlovely Bank Windhoek.

To add a third-party to your account (with the Co-Op anyway) involves a posted form, confirmation over the phone and issuing them with their own PIN code and secret password. So far, so good.

Until now I haven’t needed to ask my “trusted third-party” (TTP) to act on my behalf with the bank as the internet access here is reliable and I can check my own dire financial straits online easily. Today however I wanted to transfer some money internationally to Bank Windhoek and this can’t be done online, it needs to be either on the phone or by post.

As international calls are hellishly expensive and the post slow and unreliable I emailed my TTP and asked if they wouldn’t mind phoning up and doing the transfer.

Alas when they called the bank refused to acknowledge them or their password and in fact, rather counter-intuitively given then had failed to gain access, put my account into immediate security lockdown mode. Pressing, I would imagine, some sort of “International Terrorist Alert” button in the process.

Hearing back from the TTP left me with no alternative but to ring (especially as now even the online services were locked out).

Just before completing confirmation of my name, place of birth, inside leg measurement, date and amount of most recent direct debit etc etc my mobile phone (just topped up at great expense that very morning) ran out of credit.

This left me with no alternative but to try my newly issued phone PIN on the hospital phone and… it worked. Eventually I got back through to the Co-Op, convinced them of my lack of terrorist connections and who I was. They now tell me (a) the TTP password has been setup so this won’t happen again and (b) the money is winging its way via high-speed bank-ether down to me. I am convinced of neither.

If the hospital gets cut off for dodgy international phone charges in the next month though I may have quite a bit to answer to.

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