New rules adopted on payment mistakes to aid bank customers

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People who accidentally send money to the wrong account are to get more help to claw their payments back under new rules being adopted by banks and building societies next month.

The new voluntary code, which is being incorporated by Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC, Nationwide Building Society, Barclays, Santander, the Co-operative Bank and NatWest among others, will mean that as soon as someone tells their bank they have made a mistake with a payment, they will act within two working days.

If the bank cannot reclaim the funds immediately, for example if the payment recipient disputes the return, it will investigate further and the customer will be told within a maximum of 20 working days what the outcome is.

Someone who raises a claim for a wrong payment is not guaranteed that they will get their money back under the new rules and people are still being warned to “check before you click” when transferring cash.

But the Payments Council, which is overseeing the code, said it would put that person in a better position as they would find out where they stood more quickly and they could then take their complaint further.

The other banks and building societies who are signing up to the code are Clydesdale Bank, Coventry Building Society, Coutts, Tesco Bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Ulster Bank and Adam & Company.

All of them have pledged to incorporate the code by the end of May and other banks are expected to come on board in the coming months.

Until now, there has been a lack of consistency in the way that banks deal with their customers when they have made a blunder over a payment and the banks can take anything from a few days to months to sort out problems.

A spokeswoman for the Payments Council said people’s experiences “can differ widely depending on who they bank with and just how helpful bank staff are”.

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