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One in six mistaken online payments unrecovered

Which? survey shows importance of checking details


One in six online payments that are sent to the wrong account aren’t recovered, according to a new Which? survey. 

We questioned over 5,000 members of the public and found that, while only 6% had inadvertently sent money to the wrong account, 16% of those who did were unable to get their money back. 

Ideally, if you mistakenly make a payment to the wrong person, the receiving bank will ring-fence the money until the recipient can prove he is the legitimate payee. However, though the Payments Council has recently introduced a Code of Best Practice on this issue, it doesn’t oblige banks to do this.

Find out more: How to protect yourself online – our tips on how to bank safely 

Make some noise

Which? reader Tony Moss entered one incorrect digit when trying to transfer £742 into his Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) account. His money ended up in the loan account of someone who had left the country, leaving their debts unsettled. Mr Moss was told by RBS that his money was irrecoverable – this was confirmed by both the Financial Ombudsman Service and in the small claims court. 

Eventually Mr Moss appeared on Nick Ferrari’s radio show on LBC and drew attention to his situation. His money was promptly refunded by RBS.

Mr Moss’ story shows the value of complaining and pursuing your provider in this situation – though he had to go to worrying lengths to get his cash back. If you think you’ve made a payment in error, our Which? Money Helpline experts may be able to help  

Raising awareness

Check your account’s terms and conditions for your bank’s policy. Though money spent by recipients who can’t pay it back is untraceable, transfers to an invalid set of account details will bounce back.

We’re looking to raise awareness around this issue – initially we’d like to gather as many of your stories around misdirected payments as we can. To tell us about your experiences with misdirected payments please contact us at news@which.co.uk.

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