Plus500, a trading company that lets people bet on stocks and currencies through a financial instrument called a contract for difference (CFD), recently revealed that it has frozen thousands of accounts in the UK while it carries out identity checks. You can read all about why here.
The news has been terrible for investors, with Plus500’s share price collapsing over 40% since the news broke.
But it’s also a disaster for customers, many of whom have thousands of pounds locked in the their trading accounts on the site.
Business Insider spoke to one customer who claims he has £3,000 trapped in an account, with no idea of when he will be able to access it.
News of the account freezes broke on Monday but the trader we spoke to, a student who wants to remain anonymous, claims his account has been frozen for almost two weeks now.
He wasn’t sent an email about the freeze, only discovering the clamp on his account when he went to place a trade.
He told Business Insider: “They just froze my account without saying anything. Absolutely no notification. I traded once on some news on the general election, that was fine. Then on the Sunday when the markets reopened I went to go have a look what was going on and it said ‘sorry your account is under review’.”
He only received an official email from the company notifying customers about the freeze around two days ago. “The communication has not been very good,” he says.
The customer sent off an ID and bank statements as instructed by the automatic message on his account and managed to unblock it within four days. But he then ran into more trouble when he tried to withdraw his funds.
“I decided to withdraw all my money on that Friday because I didn’t want to be messed around,” he says. “I checked it again on the Sunday and it said your account has been placed under further review.
“This time I’ve heard absolutely nothing. They have trapped me in the dark. I sent them an email the other day and they sent me an email saying ‘This ticket has been resolved you can respond to this within three weeks if you want to reopen the case’. I go back to the Plus500 platform and it still says my account is under review.
“My money’s now stuck, I can’t get to it and I don’t know when I’ll be able to get to it.”
The customer says he is “frustrated” with how Plus500 has handled the whole situation, saying: “They should have told everyone. We’re customers at the end of the day, we’re paying for a service.”
He points out that while it has been inconvenient for him, for many others on the platform it could be much worse. He says: “Some people will definitely be doing this for a living and they’re now stuck. £3,000 for me could be £200,000 for someone else.”
A spokesperson for Plus500 told Business Insider: “In some cases the freeze is only for a day or two, for others it may be a week or two. The unfreezing is happening on a rolling, daily basis.
“We obviously can’t comment on individual cases when they are frozen. We are working as fast as possible to resolve issues. We can confirm that some accounts have been frozen since last week.”