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Be wary of buying a financial product from the Post Office

October 3, 2016

It is very easy for the financially unsophisticated, or the slightly careless, to think that the Post Office is safe. You would not get cheated or misled. Not so in my opinion.

Products offered by the Post Office are provided by someone else – normally a bank. Post Office Counter staff can not be expected to advise you whether a product is right for you.

An example is the Post Office Travel Money card which is a prepaid debit card denominated in the currency of the country you are visiting. As such it is not accepted by everyone who would accept a normal debit or credit card – airlines and passport offices are examples of organisation who will not accept payment by the Travel Money Card. It has some advantages over taking a lot of foreign cash with you, but shares some of the same risks. The circumstances under which it is better than simply using your normal debit and/or credit cards are extremely limited.

Another example concerns a savings account which, according to the terms and conditions, could not be operated by an attorney under and Lasting Power of Attorney. Fortunately I spotted this in time and we did not open such an account. In fact it was due to the bank’s ignorance of the difference between lasting Powers of Attorney and Enduring powers. I like to think that they have since resolved the problem, but that would have been of little consolation to a carer finding that her mother’s (say) funds are locked up for maybe six months.

Never buy such a product over the counter; take away the leaflets and get advice.

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