Why we sometimes freeze or block accounts

(Beatrice Borbon) #1

You might have seen discussions on here and on online review sites about people who’ve had their Monzo accounts blocked. We wanted to explain why this sometimes happens, and what you can do if it’s happened to you.



Thanks for the insight, we can finally point those posters to this now :raised_hands:


(Jordan) #3

Can finally stop saying:

“Sorry just forum members, can’t say much email X Y Z”…

Great to see a breakdown of what Monzo need to do an say (or can’t say)!


(I Can't Wait Till Tuesday, Scrap The Graph Day!!!!) #4

Can we have a global pin on this thread and a notice to new users to view this blog before posting?


Can this blog also now be posted along with all responses on Trustpilot?


(Tony, Secret Lemonade Drinker) #5

Hopefully if they use a topic name including the words “freeze” or “block” this would come up on the right as a suggested topic, but you can never guarantee these things.


(Sarcasm is the finest form of wit.) #6

Great article.

And having done the training, this is precisely how freezing someones account should work according to FCA guidelines etc. And yes, those sob stories are part and parcel of social engineering, just one weapon the nefarious among us use!



I hope you do more than apologise when you get it wrong.


(Laurynas) #8

"We’re not allowed to say why we’ve blocked an account" - this caught my attention.

How come is this legal? And how is bank account owner supposed to deal with his/her daily financial matters (buying food, paying for public transport, etc.) without knowing on what ground his/her account has been blocked and for how long?

When police arrests you, they have to tell you what crime they think you’ve committed and explain why it’s necessary to arrest you. Why is this treated differently when it comes to person’s finances?!


(I Can't Wait Till Tuesday, Scrap The Graph Day!!!!) #9

Because someone could alert others if working in a team


(Laurynas) #10

Is there a legal limit for how long bank account can be frozen? What actions can person take when his/her account is blocked? If it appears that account was blocked for no serious reason, i.e. some black box AI solution decided so, can person apply/sue for compensation?

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(MikeF) #11

No, none and No from what I’ve gleaned.


(Matt) #12

In my experience they don’t. I know of 6 people who’ve had their account blocked and it turned out to be a false positive.

In all cases the account was not blocked but there was a technical issue affecting the account and a specialist would get in touch in X days.

In all but one case no specialist got in contact however after 4-5 days the account unexpectedly started working again. The other person after 2-3 weeks they received a half hearted apology but still didn’t really recognise the gravity of what had happened and how it had affected them so much.

Perhaps monzo are getting better at this but from where I can see it’s not getting any better. I’m not sure if monzo’s threshold for thinking financial Crime is too low or other Banks are too lax but there is :100: an issue here and I don’t think this blog is sufficient.



Yep I would have liked the blog post to go into more detail on the false positives - what percentage of accounts which are blocked turn out not to be involved in any financial crime.

If a victim of a false positive flagged account suffers some kind of financial hardship as a result of the block - after they have been found not guilty, what kind of assistance if any, is given?

I get that the law dictates they can’t tell someone they’re being investigated, but I think maybe I don’t think it’s right that the law should be such that a person cannot access money to live on, when they haven’t even been proven guilty of anything yet.

It may only be 1 false positive to 99 correctly blocked accounts, but the damage to that 1 person could be very lasting.

It sort of reminds me of stories I’ve read about identity theft, and how difficult it seems to be for the victims of this to get the help they need when all their accounts are frozen etc.

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(Jordan) #14

I think the law actually states that they can’t tell you until it has all been sorted out. If Monzo did tell you then I think they would actually be committing an offence.

To combat this anology - if you’re suspected by the police they wont run straight in until they have enough evidence - think of this part of the investigation as when Monzo freeze the account.



Difference is though that before the police have enough evidence to charge you, if they are investigating you without telling you, you can still go about your daily life, buy food, pay bills.


(Jordan) #16

But Monzo won’t freeze your account without valid evidence/ reason - they obviously suspect something and will likely have evidence and have done some work in the background before freezing.


(Matt) #17

When a bank submits a SAR to the NCA the account gets frozen for 7 days. In this time the NCA can respond to the bank to say no further action or keep the freeze on, they can extend it for a further 31 days. After this period if they wish to extend further they must apply to a court.

I would note that the FCA guidelines and case law state that to submit a SAR to the NCA it should have reasonable grounds which are not fanciful . An unusual customer or a transaction that is fishy is not sufficient.



I’m not really talking specifically about Monzo, just any bank following the current laws in this area. I get that a bank would always have a a reason for freezing an acc in these circumstances, but even Monzo admit in the blog post there can be false positives, and my point before was that at the point of your account be frozen, you haven’t even been charged with a crime, and if you are one of those false positives, you face having no access to your funds and no idea why (as, being the false positive, you won’t have committed any crime).


(Jordan) #19

Yeah no I can see the difficulty it causes if for whatever reason you are “suspected” and you haven’t done anything, you can get in the lurch.

Its a difficult one because if (speaking holistically about the law) enforce on a “suspicion” to withdraw the risk of false positives, how many instances of money laundering, terrorist funding, fraud etc would you miss, or allow to operate for that little bit longer.

It is a really hard decision to make - glad i’m not the one making those judgment calls!

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Yeah I get that too :blush:

It just seems the laws surrounding investigating financial crime don’t really fit into the whole “innocent until proven guilty” part of our justice system.

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