Consumers are receiving unclear and inaccurate advice from the banks about repeat payments, Consumer Focus has warned.
Research was conducted by approaching nine leading banks and asking advisers which was the correct way to stop a CPA; 56% gave the correct answer but 44% got it wrong or gave no response.
Continuous payment authorities (CPAs), which are set up with credit or debit cards, allow businesses to take regular payments from a customer account. Companies such as payday loan providers, gyms, insurers and magazine companies, commonly use them.
Consumer Focus says it's confusing for customers to understand their rights when it comes to CPAs and this means payments may be made without knowledge or consent.
The correct reply, and that which should have been given to the customer, is to cancel the CPA through the bank and then advise the company of the cancellation.
"CPA's are a frequently used but little understood form of payment. Problems with cancellations are leaving consumers going overdrawn or paying for something they no longer want, which is unacceptable," says Sarah Brooks, director of financial services for Consumer Focus.
"Customers are naturally not experts on this payment method, so it is essential bank staff know the rules and give clear and accurate advice," she adds.