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1 Jun 2022

Confirmation of Payee expansion outlined by regulator to help combat scams

A further 400 firms are expected to implement this vital name-checking tool by June 2024
Woman making a payment using her mobile

Fraud prevention tool ‘Confirmation of Payee’ (CoP) will be extended to a further 400 financial firms by mid-2024 under new plans outlined by the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR), Which? Money reports. 

Many people incorrectly assume that their bank will warn them if they make a mistake when they send an electronic payment. But, if a firm hasn't implemented CoP, it can't check if the name you enter matches the account details. 

So, one slip of the finger and you could transfer the lot to a total stranger. 

This also makes life easier for fraudsters who impersonate genuine firms, safe in the knowledge that banks without CoP won't flag a mismatch. 

With APP fraud overtaking card fraud in the first half of 2021, and victims losing £28,203 an hour, Which? has repeatedly warned that CoP is a crucial layer of protection that all payment firms should implement to help prevent scams.

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A closer look at Confirmation of Payee

When you send money from one account to another, CoP tells you if the name you've entered matches the account details held by the receiving bank. 

It’s designed to prevent both mistakes and authorised push payment (APP) fraud, where victims are tricked into sending money to a criminal.

The PSR has said the volume and value of misdirected payments (as a share of all Faster Payments) has fallen by between a quarter and a third since CoP was rolled out. 

It also identified 'some evidence that it has helped to curtail the increase in some types of APP fraud', though didn't provide any figures to back this up.

Find out more: How safe is online banking?

Does my bank offer Confirmation of Payee?

The six largest banking groups were forced to introduce CoP by the regulator: Barclays, HSBC (including First Direct), Lloyds Banking Group (including Bank of Scotland and Halifax), Nationwide Building Society, NatWest (including Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank), and Santander.

They were originally expected to start making CoP checks by June 2019 but multiple delays meant this wasn’t introduced until 30 June 2020.  

Challenger banks Starling and Monzo were the first to implement this voluntarily, and there are now a total of 33 firms offering CoP. 

But several key players are yet to fully introduce it, including high street brands Metro Bank and Virgin Money, as well as many building societies. Virgin Money started to roll out CoP in April on its app and in-branch.

More banks and building societies to offer Confirmation of Payee

The PSR has proposed that a group of almost 50 firms expected to have the biggest impact in terms of preventing APP fraud will adopt CoP by 30 June 2023.  

This list includes the following brands (the full list of firms can be found in the PSR's proposal):

  • Bank of Ireland UK
  • Citibank
  • Coventry Building Society
  • Metro Bank
  • Revolut
  • Sainsburys Bank
  • Skipton Building Society
  • Tesco Personal Finance
  • PayPal
  • Virgin Money (including rebranded Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank accounts)
  • Yorkshire Building Society.  

The second group of 350+ firms will have until 30 June 2024.  

Stronger protections for fraud victims

In addition to expanding CoP, the forthcoming Financial Services and Markets Bill will include measures to better protect scam victims if they are tricked into transferring money to a fraudster, making sure victims are reimbursed swiftly and fairly.

This comes following Which?’s long-standing campaign for the government to stamp out scams since 2015; and in January this year we reiterated our call for stronger protections for fraud victims after finding more than £700,000 is lost to bank transfer scams every day.

Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said: 'Confirmation of Payee checks are an essential step that all payment firms should be making to help prevent scams which can devastate the lives of victims. Which? has consistently warned that fraudsters will target payment providers not using them, so it's positive to see these plans for more providers to extend the protection they offer.'

'With fraud still soaring and reimbursement rates differing significantly between banks, improved Confirmation of Payee does not remove the need for the introduction of mandatory reimbursement for all victims who are not at fault. After successful campaigning by Which?, the government has announced that it will introduce this legislation, and when it does the Payment Systems Regulator must be ready to ensure firms treat their customers consistently and fairly, with tough enforcement for those that break the rules.

'Which? will continue working with the government and PSR to ensure all new measures provide the utmost protection to the consumer.'

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How to get your money back if you're a victim of APP fraud

Cases of bank transfer fraud - when victims are tricked into sending money to a criminal - have risen sharply in the past few years.

If you think you've been scammed, you should contact your bank immediately. The quicker you are, the more likely your bank may be able to stop the transaction from leaving your account.

You should also contact the bank you were instructed to send money to, providing it with the account number given to you by the scammer.

Ahead of new legislation being introduced that will force banks to help scam victims - which was confirmed in the Queen's Speech on 10 May - if your bank is signed up to the voluntary APP scam code it should reimburse you if you can show one of the following:

  • you paid attention to warnings it provided before making the transfer
  • you had a reasonable basis for believing the person you were transferring money to was genuine
  • you're considered vulnerable.

If your bank isn't signed up to the code, you can use our letter template to complain to your bank about APP fraud.

If your bank refuses to offer you a refund, you may be able to escalate your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Editor's note: this article has been updated to reflect that Virgin Money began the rollout of CoP in April on its app and in-branch.