I can imagine how you must have felt as you tried to explain to your clients and make-up assistants that you could not make or take payments.
But it did not surprise me when you said NatWest was the bank involved. In last Saturday’s Telegraph Money we reported how the bank had had its knuckles rapped repeatedly by the Financial Ombudsman Service for the way it had treated customers after freezing their accounts without warning.
Banks have the right to put a block on accounts if they suspect dubious activity. Even when they reopen accounts after an investigation, they rarely explain their actions, supposedly for security reasons.
NatWest is thought to be taking a tougher line than some banks when something does not seem quite right with an account. This is perhaps because the bank is currently at the centre of legal proceedings over an alleged failure to carry out adequate money laundering checks in some business areas between 2011 and 2016.
However, in your case NatWest openly said it had frozen your accounts at the request of Barclays, the bank where your friend holds her account.
Something odd was certainly going on, with the likelihood her account had been scammed, as you suggested. But it was not right that your bank left you vulnerable, without even access to cash. I asked NatWest to speed up its checks and reopen your accounts pronto. It worked. Within two days your accounts were unblocked.
NatWest said it had chased Barclays to retract the fraud claim and confirmed that your accounts were now fully operational. A spokesman said: “We have a responsibility when another bank advises us of fraud to take steps to secure the funds and fully investigate the claim. But we accept that our customer service could have been better.” As an apology it has paid you £1,500.