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Unauthorised Direct Debits

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I was going through my bank statement on-line to day and spotted Direct Debit (DD) had been taken a few days ago for the amount of £20.00! Now this was my company account and I only have 3 DD on this and I know them well and none should have been for £20.00.

 

The info shown was LV LIFE with a reference number next to it. I called the bank to find out what it was! I was told that it was a DD that had been set up with out the need for a signature and had been set up to take £20.00 every month for Life Insurance. I asked how this was possible as I had not instructed this DD. I was told that as the set up had been made by the Insurance company using a method that did not require a signature the bank could do nothing to stop it being set up!

 

I told my bank that we had no dealings with LV LIFE ( Liverpool Victoria Insurance) and had never instructed them or provided them with our account details and instructed them to cancel the DD and reclaim the payment. I'm happy to report that the bank did this immediately.

 

However what is concerning is that this was ever allowed in the first place! Also the bank stated that other than cancelling the DD they could not investigate any further. They said I would need to contact the company to find out why the DD had been set up.

I explained that we had no dealings with LV LIFE and would not know who to contact but the bank was insistent that we would need to contact them!

 

I was not happy with this and asked for the complaint to be raised with the banks fraud section which they said they would and I'm waiting to be contacted by them.

 

Just thought that this might be useful as a warning to others to check there bank statements as apparently any company can set up a direct debit on your account without having to tell you and the banks just accept this and payout! If you don't spot it and cancel it you lose your money so be careful.

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This has been the case for the last 10 years. No signature is required, and the merchant simply asserts they have a valid request from their customer and will indemnify the bank (under the DD scheme) if there is an error. As you discovered, the money was taken by a 'reputable' company, but just as it is possible to enter into binding contracts without signing them, this situation should not surprise you.

 

The way round it is to tell your bank that the account CANNOT be used for DDs, and a block put in place that prevents this happening, however your 3 existing DDs would have to be cancelled and an alternative payment method found. It is also not commonly known, but even after 'cancellation' the originating merchant can reestablish the mandate automatically up to 367 days from the last debit taken - therefore you need to ensure that the electronic mandate is not simply cancelled but removed from your account profile.

 

Of course, they could set it up again (or a new company could simply provide your trading name, sort code and account number and the money leeches from your account once more. And all perfectly legal under the Banking Codes, so it is vitally important the you check each and EVERY statement for these mandates. You will not get far with the fraud section, as this will be classed as (a) an error or (b) incompetence. As there was no intention to defraud, there's nothing for them to investigate.

 

If money is taken in this way, the best you can hope for is a refund (only) no consequential loss. If it takes you more than 6 months to spot it, be prepared for only the last 6 months to be credited, as the banks will hold you jointly liable to check the statements they send.

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Following fraud on my account, my bank was instructed to accept only one of two types of DD - signed and authorised (the other being electronic and requiring no signature) - but I think this might vary from bank to bank - considering this bank refunded the fraudulant debits around 2 hours after discovering them. I know I was extremely lucky, but it might be worth speaking to the bank to ask how to prevent this from happening - they may have a process.


Lived through bankruptcy to tell the tale! Worked in various industries and studied law at university. All advice is given in good faith only :)

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make them refund it under the dd guarantee....

you received NO written notice of the amount, therefore it breaks the dd guarantee.

 

totally unlawful.

 

done this 3 times in the last 5 or so years.

 

dx


please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

 

if everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's tomorrow

the biggest financial industry in the UK, DCA;s would collapse overnight.

 

 

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Your bank is fooling you. There is NO mechanism to permit one type of DD over another. You cannot have overlooked that the DD sysatem originally required a specified date and amount for all debits, until in the mid 90's this changed to 'unspecified amounts on unspecified dates'. This major change meant the death of customer control, and there was no publicity as the changeover happened at the same time as the switch to electronic authorisation. Everyone is now on the latter type, irrespective of what was originally agreed.

 

You either have DD's active on your account, or you do not. There is no mid-way.

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make them refund it under the dd guarantee....

you received NO written notice of the amount, therefore it breaks the dd guarantee.

 

totally unlawful.

 

done this 3 times in the last 5 or so years.

 

dx

 

You'll find this has been watered down - there is bo requirement for 'written notice' in the conventional sense - You can be told you'll pay a variable amount on or after X date each month, and that complies. If you are expecting a letter each time a debit is taken. this is not insisted on. Telcos that offer paper-free billing, that require the user to log in and view their bill is a case in point, as was the reduction in the notice period of 10-12 days to just 7.

 

They really do make this up as they go along.

 

PS: Did you stick that advert in?

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Your bank is fooling you. There is NO mechanism to permit one type of DD over another. You cannot have overlooked that the DD sysatem originally required a specified date and amount for all debits, until in the mid 90's this changed to 'unspecified amounts on unspecified dates'. This major change meant the death of customer control, and there was no publicity as the changeover happened at the same time as the switch to electronic authorisation. Everyone is now on the latter type, irrespective of what was originally agreed.

 

You either have DD's active on your account, or you do not. There is no mid-way.

 

There are two - paper and paperless, my bank were instructed not to receive paperless direct debits and only paper ones which require my signature which can be verified....to this day, they will not accept any direct debit instruction which does not carry my signature - which is a pain. For example, I cannot use a "verified" method of payment through DD on Paypal - my bank rejected the DD setup. Each organisation is obliged to use paper DD if requested by the customer, which is what I have to do otherwise I pay by either standing order or manual payments. This is only one of my account, which I do not use for my mainstream bits, but as a deposit account so it's not a huge inconvenience.

 

But I was simply pointing out that by enquiring with the bank how to prevent fraudulant activity, this was an option given to me and I took it. And it has worked.


Lived through bankruptcy to tell the tale! Worked in various industries and studied law at university. All advice is given in good faith only :)

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I'm told that no paper DD's are being accepted by banks (still awaiting for the date this happened), but they confirm it may be a certain bank 'initiative' but it is not possible to block electronic DD's whilst allowing 'paper' ones to process normally. They also added that the ability to set price limits and transfer dates has also been lost (irrespective of the set up used), meanig SOs are the only way to do this.

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Buzby is correct. If you receive a paper dd from a company and you fill it in and sign it and send it back to the company - A few years ago they used to send a copy to the bank to confirm the dd - this has not happened in the last few years. Whoever told you this is wrong and you need to go back and make a complaint. They only have an electronic service now.


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I'm not saying anyone is right or wrong, I am saying that I have two bank accounts due to the fact that my original bank account (Citi) will NOT accept DD instructions without my signature, therefore I cannot have a DD on the vast majority of bills and payments etc - and whilst a pain, it has protected me from fraud for the past 5 years. This is not to say this is how each bank operate, so I only use my Citi account as a savings account and have a debit card for easy access. I wanted to show an example of what happened when I asked the bank how to prevent fraud from occuring on my account again, and this is what they did - my account is enhanced so that me and only me can set up payments with a signature. The amount of letters I received from companies saying my DD instruction had been refused by my bank, purely because I had not filled in an auth form showed that this was one way they were combatting fraud. As I said, I was refunded in a matter of hours and not days, which pays credit to the way some banks will treat their customers and deal with things such as fraud.

 

I'm not saying that other banks do this, and most will not, but it was highlighting an example.


Lived through bankruptcy to tell the tale! Worked in various industries and studied law at university. All advice is given in good faith only :)

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