It’s time to CoP on!

28 July 2020

Author: Orla Hanna
Practice Area: Banking & Finance

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After a slight delay owing to COVID-19, the Confirmation of Payee (“CoP”) system is now fully up and running in the six main banking groups in the UK. Other smaller banks and building societies have also chosen to introduce CoP into their banking system.

CoP checks the name of the payee (i.e. the person receiving money) against the details given by the payer (i.e. the person transferring the money) before the money transfer is complete. The aim of CoP is to reduce fraud and misdirected payments in electronic bank transfers for both personal and business customers.

Previously a sort code and account number were all you needed for electronic transfers, but CoP now also requires the payee account name. Essentially, if you are a recipient of a payment then you will need to provide accurate payee details, making sure that the name of the account is correct in the details provided.

There are three possible outcomes from a CoP check:

  • Details match exactly and payment is processed;
  • Details partially match and payer will be shown the name of the account holder to verify whether it is the intended payee. After confirmation from the payer the payment is processed; or
  • Details do not match and the payer will be asked to re-check the payee details.

CoP is only one step on the road to combatting payment frauds and there are some holes in the road. For example, both the payee and recipient banks must have implemented CoP. Also, CoP currently only applies to CHAPS or Faster Payment Systems payments. In addition, CoP is not currently used for international payments. Fraudsters are likely to adapt practices to counteract CoP and take advantage of gaps like the partial match in the second bullet point above. Accordingly, if you are issuing invoices it is extremely important to make sure the payee name listed on your invoice is an exact match for your account name.

A frequent pitfall occurs when a company has a different trading name to its registered name in Companies House. Another common mistake is when bank card details are provided for the account details. It is important to remember that frequently bank cards use initials of the account name instead of the full account name. If you consider the level of accuracy needed in writing a cheque then simply apply this same level of accuracy to your approach when providing electronic transfers details.

Remember when it comes to payments, the UK Payment Systems Regulator recommends that:

  • If you are contacted by phone, but the call does not sound, or feel, genuine – hang up.
  • Do not feel pressurised into making a payment. Take some time to think about it first.
  • Call back the person you think you should be making the payment to and check whether they have asked you to amend any payment details – they will be able to tell you immediately if you have been approached by a fraudster.
  • If you think you have fallen victim to a scam, call your bank immediately and let them know.

If you have any queries the Banking team at Carson McDowell would be happy to help.

*This information is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute, nor should be regarded, as a substitute for taking legal advice that is tailored to your circumstances.

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