Family accuses TSB of ‘inhumane’ treatment of dying mother

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Tungia Kaihau with her family, left to right, Maewa, Hinetu, Tainui and Grace outside TSB Bank in Palmerston North.

GEORGE HEAGNEY/Stuff

Tungia Kaihau with her family, left to right, Maewa, Hinetu, Tainui and Grace outside TSB Bank in Palmerston North.

A family accuses TSB Bank of showing a lack of compassion for their dying mother.

Tungia Kaihau, 75, has lung cancer and is in palliative care in Ōtaki, which is expected to be in her final days. She is on constant pain relief, in a wheelchair and becoming less active.

She had recently separated from her husband, but they had held a joint account for a long time. She had been trying to see his bank statements so she could put her affairs in order.

Her husband had control of their bank accounts.

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Her daughter Maewa said the money had been frozen and her mother just wanted to know what was in her accounts.

The family said the bank would only accept proof of identity from Tungia if she traveled from Ōtaki to a bank branch. The nearest branches were in Palmerston North and Wellington.

The bank said it has a duty to ensure that it properly authorizes and identifies anyone with access to its account to protect customers and their money.

The Kaihau whānau brought Tungia to the TSB in Palmerston North on Thursday for the short verification process.

Maewa said she went through a back-and-forth process with the bank for about a week trying to verify her mother’s identity.

“I’ve had [enduring power of attorney] because she lacked the physical ability to mind her own business, she is terminally ill. She is in palliative care.

Maewa said the bank was unable to verify Tungia’s identity via video because the bank had concerns about the audiovisual link and Tungia’s mental capacity.

“Every time she has to go through this legal stuff, she ends up in pain,” her daughter Hinetu said. “Not a good way to spend your last days.”

Maewa said that when they called the TSB, the bank asked Tungia about transactions on an account over which she had no control, so she could not respond to verify her identity.

They sent the bank a letter asking for bank statements, but the bank needed verification.

Maewa was frustrated at having to bring her sick mother to Palmerston North.

“Mom could die at any moment. Every day is a gift for us. Doing this to our mother is reprehensible.

“They did nothing to facilitate this process for him.”

Hinetu said what happened was the opposite of the TSB values ​​they saw written on the wall – people first, team, integrity and simplicity.

She said the whole process had been “inhumane” as they had to pull her mother “from her deathbed”.

“It’s a terrible situation. I believe they have no human compassion for a dying woman.

Maewa said a staff member at the Palmerston North branch told them he could have gone to Ōtaki to do the check, but was unaware of their situation.

“It’s a slap in the face.”

The bank said it has a duty to ensure it properly authorizes and identifies anyone with access to its account to protect customers and their money (file photo)

MARION VAN DIJK/Stuff

The bank said it has a duty to ensure it properly authorizes and identifies anyone with access to its account to protect customers and their money (file photo)

A spokesperson for the bank said they could not comment on Kaihau’s situation without confidentiality waivers from both account holders.

They said that for a power of attorney, the bank must verify the identity of the client and the proxy, and that any authorization is freely given and properly documented.

This may be difficult to do over the phone or video, so they may need to do it in person.

The spokesperson said that in most cases they could help customers over the phone or access accounts themselves anywhere digitally or through an ATM.

“In cases where we knew that a customer wanted to establish a power of attorney and could not come to a branch for health reasons, for verification of the power of attorney, our branch staff visited customers at their homes. “

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