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HSBC to review overdrafts

14 September 2006
HSBC has announced plans to annually review all its customers' overdrafts, in a bid to cut down on their misuse.

The move is an attempt to stop customers treating an overdraft as an instant source of free, or cheap, credit.

There are concerns that having a constant fallback can encourage consumers to be less cautious with their spending and potentially get themselves into a position where they can no longer easily maintain their debts.

Joe Garner, HSBC's UK head of personal finances, told website This is Money: "Overdrafts were originally developed to give customers a safety net and more flexibility to cover short-term cash flow issues.

"However, increasingly, people are regarding them as an extension of their salary and in doing so they are at risk of building up high levels of debt and paying too much for their borrowing."

Mr Garner added that if a customer starts using their overdraft more frequently, this is often a sign of looming debt problems.

HSBC recently announced bad debts of £361 million for the first half of the year, a rise of a third (36 per cent).

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