Who are you paying?

A new security check will help combat online fraud – but it’s been delayed

Phishing credit card for information

A new security system due to be introduced by the major banks has been delayed, possibly to the end of June. The new system is called Confirmation of Payee and will check if the person you think you are paying online matches the name on the bank account you are paying into.

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When you make an online or mobile transfer, you are asked for the sort code, account number and name on the account. But the name is ignored by the banks. So even if the account number and sort code belong to someone different, the money is still paid. Confirmation of Payee will change that. Nine high-street banks were supposed to implement it from 31 March, but have been given some leeway due to the ongoing problems with coronavirus.

When it begins, your bank will interrupt an online or mobile transfer to someone you have not paid before. It will check that the name you enter is the same as the name on the account the money is going to and send you a message.

  • If the name you put in is the same as the account it is going to, your bank will say it matches and you can let the payment through.
  • If it’s similar but not quite the same – Ms A Briggs rather than Mrs Anne Briggs – it will say it’s close, but suggest you check before making the payment.
  • If it’s different – you want to pay Ms A Briggs but the account is in the name of Samuel Johnson – it will warn you and you should check before making the payment. If you let the payment through and the money disappears, the bank will not reimburse you.

This new system is still being rolled out, but the banks have permission from the regulator to delay full implementation to 30 June if they need to. It will expect them to refund customers who are defrauded if they would have been protected by the new system. Smaller banks planned to introduce CoP later this year anyway. Meanwhile, be very careful when making payments. Thieves are already trying to find ways around Confirmation of Payee. Check by finding a phone number yourself for the person or firm you want to pay and check the details verbally.

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Paul Lewis presents Money Box on R4