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Barclays sort code switch: why your banking services will go down this weekend

More than 800,000 customers will be affected by a 'ring-fencing' overhaul

Barclays current account customers won’t be able to access telephone, online and mobile banking this weekend as the high-street bank embarks on a huge process of changing hundreds of thousands of sort codes.

Online, mobile and telephone services will go down at 11:30pm on Saturday 19 August and won’t be available again until 3:30pm on Sunday 20 August. Customers also won’t be able to access the money-transfer app Pingit, nor will they be able to transfer money in or out of their account.

You’ll still be able to use your debit cards and withdraw cash, and any transfers made to Barclays accounts during this time will be processed afterwards.

Barclaycard services will be unaffected.

Barclays told Which? Money that customers face outages for one weekend every month until December 2017, while the bank changes its systems ‘to align with new banking legislation to set up our ring-fenced bank, which will come into effect in the first half of 2018.’

What is ‘ring-fencing’ and why is it happening?

Major UK banks are separating their ‘retail’ banking arm from other riskier areas of their business, such as investment banking and global trading.

This reduces the possibility of essential banking services, such as your banking and savings deposits, being affected by failures in these other areas. This is designed to strengthen the financial system following the global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008.

According to the Financial Conduct Authority, the banking industry’s watchdog, the biggest UK banks must implement ring-fencing by 1 January 2019. This means they will be making changes during 2017 and 2018.

Why is Barclays changing my sort code?

To prepare for ring-fencing, banks must move customers from one part of their business to another, and as a consequence, many account holders will have their sort codes changed.

Barclays told us that between 800,000 and 900,000 accounts will be affected, and the changes will only apply to sort codes, not account numbers.

Do I need to do anything if my sort code changes?

In short, no. The changes to your sort code will follow the same process as the current account switching service, in that payments using your old sort code will be redirected to your new one for a period of 36 months.

Barclays also confirmed that existing standing orders going out of your account will be updated with the new sort code, and recipients of Direct Debits from your account – such as your gas, electricity, TV licence and council tax – will be informed of the new details.

Should I be worried about fraud?

With banks contacting you about changes to your accounts, both the regulator and the companies currently undertaking ring-fencing are warning customers to be extra vigilant about online banking fraud and scams. The FCA has issued the following advice:

  • Treat all letters, phone calls, emails and text messages with caution. Don’t assume they are genuine if they claim to be from your bank. It is best to check with your bank using the number on your card or bank statement.
  • Do not give out your account or card details or make changes to payments unless you are certain who you are dealing with.
  • Never disclose security details, such as the PIN for your bank or credit card or your online banking password. A bank or other genuine organisation will never ask you for these.
  • Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision or acting quickly. A genuine bank or other organisation won’t mind waiting if you want time to think.

Find out more: How to protect yourself from online scams

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