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Seniors and Phasing Out Cheques in New Zealand

Although some banks still accept cheques, NZ banks and government organisations are slowly phasing them out. Kiwibank, ACC, Inland Revenue and NZ Post no longer accept or issue cheques. BNZ announced they aim to phase-out cheques by July 2021 and ANZ have discontinued the use of cheques at the end of May 2021. Westpac and Rabobank will stop accepting cheques from the end of June 2021. ASB have also said they will stop cheques, but haven’t announced a date yet. The Co-operative are still accepting cheques (and issuing cheque-books to current customers), but this is under review.  TSB and SBS still issue and accept cheques. Wellington City Council stopped accepting cheques in April 2021.

Seniors do use a variety of payment methods, but cheques are used by this age group more than any other. Age Concern New Zealand’s Hanny Naus said that the phasing out will have a major impact on older people, and she’s concerned about how seniors will transition.

“I’m not saying older people don’t have the capacity. They’re the generation who could do long division in their heads and they’ve adapted to enormous changes already, they’re the ones who changed to decimal currency. But for a group of people who have used cheques for a very long time and are accustomed to having an independent way of controlling their own money and paying their own bills, this is a major event. They’re essentially being asked to trust machines to complete all their financial transactions.”

So if this is the way of the future, how do we learn to make and receive payments without cheques while ensuring we are staying safe?

If you want to pay someone and you have a computer then you can use internet banking, and many seniors have embraced this new technology successfully. If you don’t have access to a computer then phone banking is another option. You can do all your banking using your phone. So once you have set the system up by ringing your bank you can do all of the following over the phone.

  • Check balances and/or recent transactions
  • Find out what your credit card minimum payment is and the due date
  • Skip or change an automatic payment (fee may apply)
  • Transfer money between your accounts
  • Make payments to the account of any person or organisation once you have their bank account details
  • Order a statement.

ASB offers workshops for older customers. To register for a workshop near you call 0800 272 119.

It’s easiest to set these up in your branch but if you’re unable to get there then you can set it up by either going to the bank’s official web-page and following the links, or by ringing them and setting it up over the phone. Here are some of the banks’ phone numbers:

ANZ                                 0800 269 296
ASB                                  0800 803 804
BNZ                                 0800 275 269
Cooperative                    0800 554 554
HSBC                               0800 028 088
Kiwibank                         0800 113 355
Rabobank                        0800 500 933
SBS                                   0800 727 2265
TSB                                   0800 872 226
Westpac                           0800 172 172

Once internet banking is set-up, to make a payment you will need to ask for the person you wish to pay’s bank account number, or if you make regular payments to the same person or organisation for the same amount, you can set up an automatic payment (if you are unsure of how to do this, ring your bank and get them to help you).

You can also set up a direct debit from your account to pay your utility bills, just talk to your provider and they will set it up for you. IRD now has a pre-loaded payment option on internet banking.

To receive a payment, you will need to provide your bank account number to the person paying you. Remember: never give out any passwords: all they require is the account number.

Another option is to enlist the help of a trusted family member.  If you wish to have someone else operate your accounts on your behalf, you can do this by either giving them an Authority to Operate (this will need to be done at the bank so they can verify their ID and that you are doing so freely), or by appointing them as a Power of Attorney. Remember that you should never give out your passwords to anyone, including the bank.

If you are unsure of how to proceed, the first thing to do is to contact your bank or the organisation you wish to pay but which no longer accepts cheques, and let them know you’re going to need help.

 

The information in this article is believed to be up to date on in June 2021, but please check with your bank to confirm as needed.

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