Joint bank ac­counts could end in disas­ter

The Herald - - NEWS - VICKY SHAW

MANY bank­ing cus­tomers sign­ing up to a joint ac­count with a part­ner could be at risk of be­ing pur­sued for se­ri­ous debts they did not re­alise they were li­able for, re­search warns.

Banks are be­ing urged to spell joint ac­count terms out more clearly as a sur­vey found wide­spread con­fu­sion among con­sumers as to how these ac­counts work. Three-quar­ters (74.1 per cent) of peo­ple do not re­alise that ei­ther per­son is li­able to pay the debt on a joint ac­count and that the bank may pur­sue ei­ther for the full amount.

SavvyWo­man.co.uk, which re­leased the find­ings with M&S Bank, says it re­ceives emails from those who have been left “high and dry” af­ter their ex has run up debts on a joint ac­count.

The sur­vey of more than 2,000 peo­ple also found seven in 10 (70.1 per cent) do not know or wrongly think they need the ap­proval of both par­ties to set up ar­ranged over­drafts.

Nearly half (47 per cent) in­cor­rectly think the ap­proval of both joint ac­count hold­ers is needed to with­draw cash, or do not know whether this is the case or not. A sim­i­lar pro­por­tion (46 per cent) do not re­alise their credit re­port can be linked to some­one else’s if they have an ac­count to­gether.

Sarah Pen­nells, founder of SavvyWo­man.co.uk, said: “Thou­sands of cou­ples open joint ac­counts each year and I’ve been con­cerned for some time that many of them don’t know what they’re sign­ing up to. If a re­la­tion­ship breaks down, one part­ner can be left with debts of hun­dreds or even thou­sands of pounds.”

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