What happens if I have sent a payment to the wrong place?

Faster Payments, once sent, cannot be cancelled.

Whilst the vast majority of payments are made without issue, in rare cases problems can arise if the wrong information (e.g. sort code and account number), is entered - resulting in a payment being made to the wrong account.
It’s vital to double check the sort code and account number before sending a payment: payments are processed only using these numbers and getting them wrong is like sending a letter with the wrong address and post code.

How to prevent mistakes when sending a payment

  • Double-check the account number and sort-code are correct – both when they are given to you and when you use these to make the payment.
  • Check the amount and check you have the correct reference prior to making the payment, particularly if you are paying a business or paying a bill. 

Following this advice should prevent almost all errors when sending a payment, but, of course, mistakes are sometimes inevitable. Although there is no guarantee that money can be recovered once it’s been sent to the wrong place, there are processes in place for your bank or building society to follow that could help you get your money back.

How your bank or building society can help if you have sent a payment in error

Bank and building societies in the UK that offer Faster Payments follow procedures known as the credit payment recovery process, that set out how the help they must offer customers that have accidentally made a mistake when sending a payment. 

  • When you notify your bank or building society that you have made an electronic payment to the wrong account, your bank will commence action on your behalf within a maximum of two working days.
  • Where your bank finds clear evidence of a genuine mistake, they will contact the receiving bank on your behalf with a request to prevent the money being mistakenly spent. As long as the recipient does not dispute your claim, you will subsequently receive a refund of the protected funds within 20 working days from when you notified your bank.
  • In cases where the circumstances of the claim are not clear cut, your bank will still contact the receiving bank on your behalf. The recipient will be contacted by their bank to ask for consent to debit their account. No funds would be removed without the consent of the receiving customer.
  • If it is not possible to reclaim a payment you have sent in error – for instance if the recipient disputes its return – you will be notified of the outcome within 20 working days from the point of your enquiry and in many cases much sooner.
  • If funds cannot be recovered through the standard central process your bank will give you clear and accurate information on the options you have available – such as court action against the recipient.
  • The industry procedures do not change the legal rights and responsibilities of you, your bank or the recipient of the funds. Anyone that intentionally spends money that does not belong to them is committing a crime, which can be reported to the police. 
  • If you do not get the service you should expect under the new procedures you can firstly follow your provider’s formal complaints procedure. If you are not happy with the outcome, your bank will provide you with information on how you can take your complaint to the independent Financial Ombudsman Service.

The procedures apply to all banks and building societies that connect directly to Faster Payments or Bacs Payment Schemes Limited, covering more than 95% of electronic payments made in the UK. Implementation is being rolled out across other indirectly connected banks and building societies during early 2016.

I am trying to recover a payment I sent to the wrong account. What should I do?

Faster Payments cannot trace individual payments. If you have made a payment in error (e.g. to the wrong account, for the wrong sum or on the wrong date) you should:

  • Inform your bank as soon as possible if you are not able to contact the recipient directly to request return of the money. If your payment has been sent to someone at a different bank to you, your bank will communicate with the other bank on your behalf.   
  • If money has been taken from your account as a result of a fraud (known as an ‘unauthorised payment’) you have additional protection.  Find out more here.