Refunds for accidental payments to speed up
People who accidentally send payments to the wrong bank or building society account can soon expect better service when it comes to reclaiming their money.
From May 2014 a new code of best practice introduced by the Payments Council will ensure that banks and building societies will offer a consistent and swifter service for customers to recover their funds.
Under the voluntary code, banks and building societies will have to take action on a customer's behalf within two days of being notified of the error.
If a bank cannot reclaim funds straightaway - perhaps because the recipient disputes its return - the customer will be notified of the outcome of the bank's investigation within a maximum of 20 working days from when it was first notified.
If the bank cannot recover the money, customers will be given clear information on what options are available to them, such as taking the recipient to court.
While customers will have no guarantee they will recover any money paid in error, the code will ensure they receive information speedily and consistently.
If customers are not satisfied with the service they receive under the new code, they can firstly make a complaint to their provider or, failing that, the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Banks that have committed to signing up to the code are Adam & Company, Barclays, Clydesdale Bank, Coventry Building Society, Coutts, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide Building Society, NatWest, Santander, Tesco Bank, The Co-operative Bank, The Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank. Others are set to announce their participation in the coming months.
The right destination
Adrian Kamellard, chief executive of the Payments Council, said: "Sending a payment with the wrong sort code or account number is like sending a letter with the wrong postcode and address - it won't reach its intended destination and can be very difficult to get back. The overwhelming majority of the millions of payments we send each day reach their intended destination without any problem but if you are unlucky enough to make a mistake this new process should help."
With more payments being carried out through mobile apps, such as the new Paym system – which allows people to send money to a current account using the account holder's mobile phone number – there is the worry that fraudsters will target mobile banking.
Gabriel Hopkins at technology company FICO believes mobile payments will catch on, but also shares this concern: "People will need to be vigilant and monitor their accounts to make sure that there is no suspicious activity, as with every advance in banking technology comes a new fraud risk."
If you’ve have a complaint about a financial service product you have bought but the company you bought it from refuses to resolve your problem after eight weeks, the Ombudsman can help. The Ombudsman will investigate and resolve the matter. The Ombudsman is independent and its service is free to consumers. The Ombudsman may find in the company’s favour but consumers don’t have accept its decision and are always free to go to court instead. But if they do accept an Ombudsman’s decision, it is binding both on them and on the business.
An account opened with a clearing bank (few building societies offer current accounts) that provides the ability to draw cash (usually via a debit card) or cheques from the account. Some pay fairly minimal rates of interest if the account is in credit. Most current accounts insist your monthly income (salary or pension) is paid directly in each month and they offer a number of optional services – such as overdrafts and charge cards – which are negotiable but will incur fees.
This is a mutual organisation owned by its members and not by shareholders. These societies offer a range of financial services but have historically concentrated on taking deposits from savers and lending the money to borrowers as mortgages, hence the name. In the mid-1990s many societies “demutualised” and became banks. One academic study (Heffernan, 2003) found demutualised societies’ pricing on deposits and mortgages was more favourable to shareholders than to customers, with the remaining mutual building societies offering consistently better rates. In 1900, there were 2,286 building societies in the UK; in 2011, there are just 51.