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The dangers of over reliance on technology
In June 2012, a computer systems failure meant that millions of customers of RBS, which conducts retail banking under the NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and UlsterBank brands in the UK, were unable to receive money or pay bills. According to thisismoney.co.uk it is estimated that up to 12 million people were affected by the computer error, and that the problems with account access now rank as one of the worst technical failures at a British bank.
I heard on the radio of one man who was in the process of moving house, and had left his old house that day. His furniture was in a van which had been hired for the day, and he was unable to take possession of his new house, as the payment would not go through.
However, such failures are certainly not isolated incidents - far from it. Use a search engine to look for "bank computer crash" and you'll see what I mean.
I have always believed that manual systems should be in place - and I am not a "technophobe." I have used computers for many years, and like "gadgets" but I am very wary of over reliance on them.
There was a solar storm in 1859 (search for the "Carrington Event" if you'd like to know more). To quote from the National Geographic website,
"In 1859, such reports were mostly curiosities. But if something similar happened today, the world's high-tech infrastructure could grind to a halt."
The purpose of this Hub is to try to give a few practical tips on how to minimise the effects of this for you, and get you over the worst if you suddenly find you can't use your card, get money, pay bills etc. If you woke up tomorrow and found you couldn't access your bank account, would it affect you?
Many employers now insist on having wages paid directly into a bank account. If you do have the option, consider having cash, at least for smaller amounts, instead.
Use your accounts "actively", rather than just having wages automatically going in and direct debits automatically going out. Automation is great - until something goes wrong! Try to keep direct debits to a minimum. It might not be as convenient a lot of the time, but there is no chance of a direct debit going wrong if you haven't set it up in the first place! Avoiding one bad incident will probably make it all worthwhile!
Using your accounts actively will also give you the chance to keep an eye on outgoings regularly, and have the added advantage of helping you not to go accidentally overdrawn without being aware of it, possibly saving you unexpected charges.
Try to pay your bills as soon as you can. If you don't get near the deadline, you will have time to spare if things do go wrong. Pay them yourself when - or before - they're due, in cash if possible, rather than relying on "the system".
Consider keeping enough cash in the house to get you through the next few days. Could you fill your car with fuel, buy enough food to keep you going, and pay the next couple of bills without having access to your bank account?
I have heard rumours of cash possibly being "phased out" in time to come. I think that would be a real mistake, and I use cash whenever I can. If I need more, I go to withdraw it rather than using a card. I don't have a credit card, and I very rarely use my debit card. I don't do general online banking, although as I said, I'm not a technophobe. I have bought and sold on the internet.
I really hope you find this Hub useful. If you find just one tip helpful I will be pleased. Please do feel free to add any tips of your own if you have any