Millions ignore name-check warnings when making bank transfers

Around one in 12 people press ahead with a bank transfer even when payee account details do not exactly match

woman holding up a credit card and typing details into keyboard
(Image credit: getty images)

Around one in 12 (8%) people have pressed ahead with a bank transfer even when the payee account name and number do not exactly match, a survey has found.

Doing so could put them at risk of sending the money to a stranger’s account by mistake or to a fraudster who has deliberately given false details.

The study’s results come amid an abundance of scams that have emerged in recent years including WhatsApp scams, crypto scams, investment scams.

The Confirmation of Payee (CoP) service, which launched in 2019, checks whether the details entered match the account of the person or organisation being paid.

The research, commissioned by Lloyds Bank, found less than half (47%) of people would carry out further checks before proceeding with a transaction when presented with a “Confirmation of Payee unavailable” message.

This often means the recipient bank or payment services provider is not signed up to the service, so the account details cannot be automatically checked.

Only 41% of those surveyed were familiar with CoP.

Less than a quarter (24%) said they would recognise that a “no match” could be a warning sign of a scam, the survey of more than 2,000 people across the UK found.

Lloyds Bank said its own analysis of outbound transfers made to all major banks and payment service providers last year showed that transactions involving firms not using CoP were up to 100 times more likely to be reported as fraudulent by customers at a later date.

This difference in fraud rates cannot solely be attributed solely to CoP, and differences in investments in fraud prevention and detection measures will also play a part, it said.

How to protect yourself against bank transfer fraud 

Liz Ziegler, fraud prevention director at Lloyds Bank, said: “Fraudsters are trying to steal people’s money all the time, they never stop. We’re talking about organised crime gangs, constantly inventing new scams to dupe victims out of their hard-earned cash.

“So, when you’re making a bank transfer and a warning flashes up to say that the account details don’t match, or can’t be checked at all, that should set alarm bells ringing straight away.

“Stop, take notice and think about why that could possibly be the case. There’s a big chance it’s because you’re being scammed.

What protection do banks offer against fraud?

Many banks have signed up to a voluntary industry code which reimburses victims of bank transfer scams in situations where neither the customer nor their bank is to blame. However concerns have been raised that the code has been applied inconsistently.

Some providers also have their own initiatives. TSB has its own fraud refund guarantee.

Nationwide Building Society, which has signed up to the industry code, also has a scam checker helpline that people can call if they are unsure whether something is a scam.

If people are given the go-ahead to make the payment but still fall victim to a bank transfer scam, they will be refunded in full under the society’s scam protection promise.

Liz Ziegler, fraud prevention director at Lloyds Bank said “We urge all payment providers to introduce Confirmation of Payee as quickly as possible. We can see it deters criminals now, and, if more people take notice of the warnings, it can help stop fraudsters in their tracks.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

Katie Binns

Katie is staff writer at The Money Edit. She was the former staff writer at The Times and The Sunday Times. Her experience includes writing about personal finance, culture, travel and interviews celebrities.  Her investigative work on financial abuse resulted in a number of mortgage prisoners being set free - and a nomination for the Best Personal Finance Story of the Year in the Headlinemoney awards 2021.