Vulnerable consumers dealing with the death of a loved one will receive speedier and fairer treatment from financial service providers following a new partnership by two free nationwide services.
The tie-up between the Vulnerability Registration Service and newly launched end-of-life account closure service Settld, creates a stress-free ‘one-stop’ vulnerability and bereavement facility, which will help banks, utilities, insurers and other service providers to better identify those in difficulty.
The link-up follows recent guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority which aims to improve the way firms treat vulnerable customers and ensure better understanding of the needs of those experiencing negative life events, such as the death of a loved one.
Helen Lord, Director of the Vulnerability Registration Service (VRS), said: “There are some great synergies between the VRS and Settld – we are both passionate about reducing unnecessary stress and unfair treatment towards those who are already suffering and may be vulnerable. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is devastating enough, but having to explain the same painful situation to multiple organisations can add significant stress. This partnership will make a real difference to those people giving them a safe place to disclose their circumstances just the one time. Through the VRS, service providers can then instantly see that a vulnerability exists for a customer, and put in place appropriate treatments.”
The Vulnerability Registration Service is a ‘not for profit’ organisation that gives people a single place to register their vulnerable status. It includes those in financial distress, perhaps because of a death in the family; those with mental health problems, at risk of financial abuse, victims of fraud and their representatives, such as those with power of attorney. The service is free for them.
When individuals use Settld’s free, online bereavement notification and account closure service, they are invited to declare whether they consider themselves in a vulnerable state – be it financial or emotional.
Under the new partnership with the VRS, their vulnerability can automatically be signalled to financial service providers. That means consumers won’t have to repeat the same difficult conversation with each company.
Settld’s CEO and co-founder Vicky Wilson said: “When users come to Settld for help in notifying a death, and to close or transfer accounts, we make sure that they only have to say it once and we take over the rest of the process, informing service providers.
“Now that we’ve partnered with the Vulnerability Registration Service, our most vulnerable users will have their status notified to service providers immediately, with those individuals only having to say it once. This means they should receive quicker, fairer treatment from those companies. With VRS, we have created a stress-free, one-stop shop, for the most vulnerable consumers.”
Online startup Settld, removes much of the hassle associated with having to individually contact banks, insurers, mobile and broadband providers, TV subscription services and others, to inform them of the death of a friend or family member. The secure and simple service now has the added benefit of alerting companies to the vulnerability of its users.
Settld and VRS will also signpost users to each other’s websites.