Bank customers set for sort code and account number switch – are you affected?

Published by Adam Williams on 29 June 2017.
Last updated on 05 July 2017

Bank customers set for sort code and account number switch – are you affected?

Hundreds of thousands of bank customers will be forced to change their sort codes and account numbers in the next 18 months.

New rules from the Prudential Regulation Authority require major UK banks to separate their ‘retail’ bank - the part which accepts customer deposits – from the rest of their business, such as investment banking.

This change, known as ring-fencing, must be completed by 1 January 2019. It is intended to shield personal banking customers from the risks taken by other parts of a banking group.

Barclays and HSBC customers are expected to be most affected by the change. Barclays told Moneywise between 800,000 and 900,000 personal and business bank accounts would receive new sort codes.

Many HSBC customers will also be given new account details as the bank separates its UK retail bank from the rest of its business, although the bank declined to put a figure on the number of customers affected.

A spokesperson for HSBC says: “HSBC is committed to making this process as straightforward as possible for the small proportion of customers impacted.

“For most of our personal and business customers impacted, the process is automated and we will automatically update any regular payments like standing orders and direct debits.”

Of the other major UK banks, Lloyds Banking Group, which includes the Bank of Scotland, Halifax and Lloyds Bank, says none of its customers will be affected by the change.

RBS Group, including NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland brands, confirmed that a small number of its personal and corporate banking customers would see their details change.

Santander meanwhile, says less than 10,000 of its customers will need to change account details - mostly those with offshore accounts based in the Isle of Man or Jersey.

What happens if I need to change account details?

The Financial Conduct Authority says banks will write to all customers to inform them if their account details are going to change. This letter will explain when the changes take place and if any action is required.

Payments directed to old account numbers and sort codes will be automatically redirected for “a significant period of time” while direct debits and many standing orders will be updated by the banks on the customer’s behalf.

The regulator has warned customers to be extra vigilant against fraud during this period. It has reminded consumers not to give out any personal information and to beware of calls out of the blue from people claiming to be your bank.

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