20 April 2021

what is a bank account freeze?

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Simply put, an account freeze is when your bank/building society prevents further transactions from taking place. When an account is frozen, most activities on the account are suspended with immediate effect. You should still be able to access your bank, whether that be through online banking or even telephone banking, but you are limited to what you can do.

The impact of an account freeze can be quite detrimental, both financially and emotionally. The freeze suspends pre-authorised transactions and even direct debits, which can lead to further detriment if not dealt with in a timely manner. The freeze can pose an immense strain on small-medium businesses and even charities.

Is an account freeze always negative?

The short answer is, no. Although an account freeze is no doubt frustrating, it is not always viewed negatively.

Why has my account been frozen?

There are a few reasons why a bank/building society will seek to freeze an account. Some of the potential reasons will be explored further below.

One of the reasons could simply be a technical glitch, which tends to be the good news in such situations.

If a consumer is facing some form of continued financial difficulties, banks can freeze accounts to prevent further harm in certain circumstances too. It could also be due to insufficient funds, especially where overdraft facilities are active on an account.

During the pandemic, financial fraud has risen sharply, which has resulted to banks being on high alert for such activity. As such an account freeze can seek to protect vulnerable consumers who may be exposed to fraud. If banks find some form of unusual activity taking place on an account, they can take measures to freeze the account. Banks tend to routinely monitor accounts for suspicious activity, such as money laundering and account fraud. Consequently, banks can freeze an account due to suspicion of such activities.

In any event, banks often ask consumers to provide transaction evidence.

What shall I do if my account is frozen?

Firstly, ensure you contact the bank immediately. They should give a reason(s) as to why the freeze took place. The reasons provided at this initial stage may not always be accurate and so this should be kept in mind.

Secondly, the bank may ask you to provide evidence, which you can do. It’s important to gather as much detail surrounding transactions when providing this evidence.

If you remain unsure, you can always get in touch with us, where we can navigate and assist you in recovering your frozen funds.


The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Connaught Law and authors accept no responsibility for loss that may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Connaught Law. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Connaught Law.

About the Author

Saad Abbas Hussain heads the Financial Disputes and Banking department at Connaught's. He has accumulated extensive industry experience within dispute resolution, regulation, and financial services, having previously worked for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

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