New protection for bank customers who send money to the wrong account

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Money accidentally sent to the wrong account will soon be easier to retrieve under a new process to be introduced by the banking industry.

The change means that if there is clear evidence that money has been sent to the wrong place via mobile, online or phone banking, the recipient bank or building society will prevent the money being spent by the accidental recipient.

It does not guarantee a trouble-free process, because the recipient will need to agree that he or she shouldn’t have the money, and someone who receives a credit in error will be given the opportunity to dispute any refund. But it does mean that in straightforward cases where the recipient doesn’t dispute the claim, the money should be returned within 20 working days.

If the money cannot be recovered because the recipient refuses to accept the claim, the party responsible for the mistaken payment will be given information on further available options, such as court action against the recipient.

“Mobile, online and phone banking customers now send well over a billion payments every year,” says Faster Payments chief executive Craig Tillotson.

“The most important advice is to make sure you get the sort code and account number correct when sending any payment but, if you do make a mistake, this announcement means more help is on offer, while also ensuring the recipient of funds is treated fairly, too.”

Michael Chambers, chief executive of Bacs, adds: “We welcome anything which provides added security and peace of mind.

“It is inevitable that human error can sometimes creep in when lengthy account details are being input, and it is absolutely right that anyone who is out of pocket as a result of a mistake can get that money back.”

The new system will be rolled out over the next few weeks and will apply to payments sent using Faster Payments (which processes virtually every mobile, online and telephone banking payment between banks or building societies) or Bacs Direct Credit.