A British family of five has been forced into poverty after their bank froze all their accounts when an error left them $2.1 million overdrawn.
The Livermore family have been forced to go to food banks and live off hand-outs from friends and relatives for nearly a month after a blunder by Barclays left them $700,000 overdrawn on each of their three accounts.
Paul and his wife Kayleigh, both 31, have struggled to provide for their three children age 11, 8 and 7 for almost a month after the mistake on Easter Monday, which is a national holiday in the UK.
The three Barclays accounts were all in credit before the mistake saw them listed as overdrawn by almost $700,000 each – making it possibly the largest overdraft in the world.
Each account had a negative balance of around $700,000 but Paul insists he never had an overdraft but had agreed to an emergency $14 buffer with the bank.
Because of the mix-up, the family defaulted on payments for their car, taxes, rent, phone bills and have relied on the food bank to top up their gas and electricity.
Paul, a facilities assistant, burst into tears when he realized his joint, savings and personal accounts had all been suspended.
Paul said: “I first noticed it on Easter Monday when I was using my card to do some family shopping and I was withdrawing my cash for the week.”
“It told me my bank account had been suspended.”
“Initially the account was suspended for ten working days and then they told me the accounts were going to be held indefinitely under investigation.”
“The bank have also text me saying that bills have not been paid and our mobile phone accounts have been suspended for outgoing calls as well as the home internet.”
“We have pretty much been living off handouts since [Easter Monday], I have never been in a situation like this before and it is so embarrassing to ask for so much help.”
“The kids are managing and we are making sure they are eating, they have lunch at school, but I have had to encourage them to play on the PlayStation less and play more in the garden.”
“The food bank gave us a lot of vegetables, fruit and items for the cupboard as well as some bread and milk.”
“They have also offered to let us use the local homeless kitchen which helps those in need, it is really overwhelming how supportive everyone has been.”
“We have been eating more stews as you can make them to last several days, lots of pasta too.”
Paul gets paid monthly, but because of Easter, his last check was earlier.
He should have plenty of money left from his wages, but he’s been unable to access it, and none of their bills have been paid.
Paul is currently in negotiations with his bosses to try to free up some cash but has so far been unsuccessful.
He added: “I cried when I saw the figure, I was gobsmacked and didn’t know what was going on.”
“It’s so confusing and stressful, we have missed payments for our car finance, tax and rent because of this.”
Paul has no access to his accounts and has complained to Barclays but has yet to receive an explanation for the issue.
The dad-of-three added: “Maybe Barclays could explain why my account was suspended so abruptly with no explanation.”
“I’m angry and disappointed, I have been a Barclays customer for over 15 years, it’s not good enough.”
Barclays have confirmed they are investigating the matter, but are currently unable to ascertain how long the matter will take to get sorted.
A Barclays spokesperson said: “We are currently investigating the matter.”
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