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Fears raised that bank closures could put elderly at risk to scams

PUBLISHED: 19:53 02 May 2018 | UPDATED: 19:53 02 May 2018

Royal Bank of Scotland in Bury St Edmunds is due to close. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Royal Bank of Scotland in Bury St Edmunds is due to close. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The announcement of a Bury St Edmunds bank branch closure has sparked fears that the ongoing push towards online banking will put elderly people at risk of falling prey to scams.

Mark Cordell, CEO of OurBuryStEdmunds. Picture: PHIL MORLEYMark Cordell, CEO of OurBuryStEdmunds. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), in Guildhall Street, is set to close its doors for good on August 1 having seen a huge drop in custom.

A spokesman from RBS said that since 2012, transactions at the Bury branch had reduced by 51% with only 22 customers visiting the branch on a regular weekly basis.

But CEO of OurBuryStEdmunds Mark Cordell, a police officer for more than 30 years, said the push towards online banking could leave newcomers to the technology, such as the elderly, open to being scammed.

He said: “This is a cost saving measure from the bank but they need to be mindful of its effect. If you are new to online banking you are less likely to spot an internet scam.

Royal Bank of Scotland in Bury St Edmunds is due to close. Picture: GREGG BROWNRoyal Bank of Scotland in Bury St Edmunds is due to close. Picture: GREGG BROWN

“They are leaving people who are unfamiliar with the digital aspects of banking more vulnerable to scams and deception.

“The bad guys out there will take advantage of this gap in the market.”

Mayor of Bury St Edmunds, Terry Clements, echoed Mr Cordell’s concerns, saying it is very easy for people to fall victim to online fraudsters if they are inexperienced with the internet.

“The number of times you click on pages, you can’t be sure whether they are all legitimate,” he said. “Some of these pages look so good they look just like a genuine page. I have been using the internet for a long time now and it gets more and more difficult to spot the scams. It puts me on edge.”

He added that elderly people are more regularly targeted by offers from banks and building societies, making it even more difficult to spot a scam. The closure of the Bury St Edmunds RBS Branch comes amid a slew of bank closures across the region.

Over the last two years, Bungay, Halesworth, Southwold, Woodbridge, Beccles, Eye, Saxmundham and Leiston have all lost bank branches, some of them the last in the town.

A spokesman for RBS said the bank had set up a new taskforce of ‘Techxperts’ to help its customers with training and support with digital skills until the branch closes.

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