People making bank transfers will have more certainty their money is being sent to the right person, due to the widespread adoption by banks of a new name-checking service.
The move should make it harder for fraudsters to trick people into transferring money to them by pretending to be someone else.
The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) said the “confirmation of payee” service will give people the additional protection of checking the name of who they want to pay against the account number they are paying money into.
Major banks and building societies – Bank of Scotland, Barclays, HSBC UK, Lloyds Bank, NatWest, Nationwide Building Society, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander UK and Ulster Bank – have adopted it.
The regulator said that in 95% of cases where a new payee is set up by a customer of one of the banks that it has directed to set up the service, the customer will have the protections of confirmation of payee.
It said the initiative marks a significant milestone in helping to reduce authorised push payment (APP) scams, where criminals pretend to be from a legitimate organisation, as well as cutting the risk of payments being accidentally sent to the wrong person.
Banks will be able to check the name on a payee’s account against the sort code and account number.
In August 2019, the PSR used its regulatory powers to direct members of the UK’s biggest banking groups to implement confirmation of payee by the end of March 2020.
But amid the pressure on businesses due to Covid-19, the regulator said it would not take formal action until the end of June.
The PSR has also seen the first non-directed banks introduce confirmation of payee, with Monzo and Starling having started to introduce the full service to their customers.
Chris Hemsley, managing director of the PSR said: “The widespread implementation of this additional name checking provides a new, added layer of protection for consumers.
“As well as helping stop fraudsters from committing devastating crimes, it will also help people avoid paying the wrong person accidentally.”