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UK banks introduced a new way to combat financial fraud back in 2020. It’s called Confirmation of Payee (or CoP for short).

We answer the most frequently asked questions about Confirmation of Payee (CoP) below.

Payee (CoP)?

It’s an account name-checking service that helps payments reach the right recipients (or payees).

Up until now, when you made electronic payments from your bank account, you gave your bank all the details. This included the account number, sort code and name of the person or organisation you wanted to pay. However, your bank was not able to check the name of the payee.

This enabled criminals to trick people (individuals and businesses) into sending money directly from their account to accounts which the criminals controlled.

Confirmation of Payee (CoP) means that your bank will now check the name on the account you’re paying, as well as the account number and sort code. This helps make sure that payments go to the correct accounts and protect you against fraud.

What problem does Confirmation of Payee (CoP) address?

Confirmation of Payee (CoP) addresses a £208 million fraud problem. That’s how much was stolen by authorised push payment (APP) fraud in the first six months of 2019 when people were tricked into authorising a payment to accounts controlled by criminals.

This happens to individuals but also to businesses where it’s known as CEO fraud. Criminals pretend to be the CEO or another senior executive and trick staff in the finance department into making payments to accounts they control.

How does authorised push payment (APP) fraud work?

Essentially there are two kinds of payments: push and pull. CoP addresses problems associated with digital ‘push’ payments, such as Faster Payments or CHAPS.

The biggest and best known ‘push’ payment the world over is cash. When you pay for something in cash, you simply hand the money over. Put another way, you initiate the payment by ‘pushing’ the money towards the recipient (or payee).

This is different to card or direct debit payments. These are ‘pull’ payments. You provide your card or bank details to the recipient, who initiates the payment by ‘pulling’ it from your account.

Most online bank transfers (such as Faster Payments or CHAPS) are the digital equivalent of cash and are ‘push’ payments. The recipient provides their details and you initiate the payment by ‘pushing’ the money to them.

That’s how APP fraud works. Because like with cash, if you pay the wrong person or wrong amount, for example mistakenly hand over a £20 instead of a £10 note, you can’t count on getting your money back.

By contrast, most ‘pull’ payment methods come with in-built protection for the payer. With direct debit, if the payee takes the wrong amount or takes the payment twice, there’s the direct debit guarantee and agreed steps for getting your money back.

What is changing?

Confirmation of Payee (CoP) allows you to check who you’re paying. It applies when you pay someone new or amend an existing payment instruction.

From March 2020, when you set up a new payee or amend an existing one on your online or mobile banking, you’ll see one of the four following messages:

  • Yes, match — the name and account type (personal or business) you supplied matches the details on the account. If you’re happy with this, you can make the payment. Your bank will never make a payment without your direct authorisation, even if the account names match.
  • Maybe, partial match — the name is close match, the name on the account is ‘Joe Bloggs’. If you’re happy with this, you can make the payment or edit the details.
  • No match — the name you supplied doesn’t match the name held on the account. Please contact the person or business you’re paying to check. If you’re happy that the details are correct, you can make the payment but your bank may not be able to get the money back if it goes to the wrong account.
  • Unavailable — it has not been possible to check the name because the system timed out, the account doesn’t exist or the payee’s bank is not participating in CoP. If you’re happy that the details are correct, you can make the payment but your bank may not be able to get the money back if it goes to the wrong account.

You’ll still need to enter the correct account type (personal or business), account number and sort code to make a payment. And your bank will still alert you if this information is not correct.

Which payments are affected?

Payments made and received by individuals and businesses using Faster Payments and CHAPS within the UK are affected.

What happens when someone pays me?

Confirmation of Payee (CoP) also applies when you’re receiving a payment. Make sure you provide the full name you have registered on your bank account to receive payments easily.

What does this mean for my business?

To pay suppliers easily, make sure you have the right names of their bank accounts.

To receive payments easily, make sure you provide payers with the full name registered on your bank account. If you use a trading name different to the one on your bank account, provide the registered name on your bank account.

Which UK banks are participating?

The payment systems regulator has instructed the following banks, which account for around 90% of bank transfers, to implement Confirmation of Payee (CoP): Bank of Scotland, Barclays Bank, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, National Westminster Bank, Nationwide Building Society, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander, Ulster Bank.

When do the changes start?

Changes were implemented from March 2020.

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