By Victoria Bischoff and Fiona Parker For The Daily Mail
Published: 23:14 GMT, 27 November 2020 | Updated: 23:17 GMT, 27 November 2020
Savings giant NS&I is facing a major backlash after axing its Premium Bond cheques and forcing millions of savers online.
The Treasury-backed bank has been accused of abandoning older people at a time when its customer service is already in chaos.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
From next month National Savings & Investments wants to start paying all winnings directly into customer accounts. Cheques will be sent out only in the 'most exceptional' circumstances.
That means customers must register their account details with NS&I to receive prize money. Yet many older people are not online and they have been unable to get through on the telephone as NS&I's customer services lines buckle under the pressure.
Campaigners say the move is a betrayal of millions of savers who have held Premium Bonds for decades.
Linda and Joe McCauley have been buying Premium Bonds since 1963 but are now considering cashing in their entire £27,500 investment.
In those five decades the couple have won at least £25 in most of the prize draws and sometimes £50 or even £500.
But they have no interest in managing their finances or handing over their bank account details online. The couple do own an iPad but use it only for Skype calls with their daughter in Canada.
Linda and Joe McCauley (pictured) have been buying Premium Bonds since 1963 but are now considering cashing in their entire £27,500 investment
When Mrs McCauley, 76, discovered NS&I would be phasing out prize cheques last month, she tried to call to ask if she could continue receiving them.
But after 45 minutes on hold the retired nurse gave up and is now planning to send a letter to the saving arm's headquarters in Sunderland.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The great-grandmother of five, from Lincoln, said: 'I am not going to have anyone forcing me to do something that I don't want to do.
'I might have an iPad, but I wouldn't feel comfortable putting my bank details into a website and NS&I should respect that.'
I feel I'm being bullied into doing this
Valerie Jones, 84, bought Premium Bonds when they launched in 1957 and now has more than £40,000 invested.
She usually wins six £25 prizes each year and once won £500.
A former meteorologist in the Wrens, she does not use a computer or smartphone and fears online fraud.
Mrs Jones, from Yate, near Bristol, said: 'I don't know what to do. I feel like it is just bullying me into doing something I don't feel comfortable doing.'
Valerie Jones, 84, bought Premium Bonds when they launched in 1957 and now has more than £40,000 invested. (She is pictured with her husband, Melbourne)
Ros Altmann, former pensions minister and a champion for older workers, said her own 88-year-old mother is affected. 'How can they possibly do this?' she asked. 'It will be causing elderly people further misery on top of their isolation.
'Many elderly people cannot