There are occasions when as a payer you might need to reverse a Direct Debit payment if it has been taken in error or fraudulently. Alternatively, you may be an organisation collecting payments by Direct Debit, commonly referred to as a service user, and due to human error you face a situation where a payment has been collected incorrectly.
Thankfully, payers are really well protected under the Direct Debit Guarantee. The Direct Debit Guarantee covers against error and a failure to follow due process as outlined by the Bacs rules and guidelines. Organisations need to ensure they adhere to these rules, while also understanding their rights in challenging a reversal or refund request from payers.
Here’s a look at when you might want to recall or reverse a Direct Debit, and how to go about it.
Under the Direct Debit Guarantee, an organisation is required to give its customers advance notice of any changes to their Direct Debit, such as a change in the payment amount, date or frequency. This is typically 10 working days before the payment is taken, but shorter periods can be agreed and this would be stipulated in the Direct Debit Guarantee on the Direct Debit Instruction you complete.
If the organisation fails to provide this notice, it is in breach of the Direct Debit scheme rules and you are entitled to a full and immediate refund from your bank. It’s worth noting that there are occasions where a payment might not be taken on the exact date stipulated in the advance notice. In this case, companies do have a three day grace period from the date of the original collection.
Making a Claim
If you notice an error on the same day a payment was made, you can call your bank and reverse the payment immediately. However, if you notice it at any point afterwards, your bank will need to make an ‘indemnity claim’ to the collecting organisation on your behalf. This can be done anytime, regardless of whether you still have a Direct Debit with the organisation in dispute.
Finally, remember that you can easily cancel a Direct Debit payment at any time before the payment is due to be made, simply by calling your bank. In the rare occasion where a payment is still taken, you are entitled to a full and immediate refund from your bank.
Service User Process
As a service user, if you have collected a Direct Debit payment incorrectly Bacs have clear rules and guidelines on what you must do. Bacs Scheme rules are specific to whether the error is discovered before the collection file has been submitted or afterwards, and also whether it impacts a single collection or the majority of a file.
Bacs have recently updated their rules and guidance in relation to how a service user should address the majority of a submission file being made in error.