Online payments: how to keep your money safe
Published 23 August 2012 by Helen Gradwell
How do you keep yourself and your money safe when making online payments?
If you enter the wrong details when making an online payment, it can be quite difficult to retrieve the funds. When you pay bills, you need to double-check that you fill in all the numbers accurately. The website money.aol.co.uk gives some advice on what to do if things go wrong.
If you do make a mistake, it's important to get in touch with your bank straight away. Tell them exactly what happened, and ask them to refund what you lost. Keep a record of this call - take the name and job title of the person you talk to - then follow it up with a letter. Keep a copy of the letter for your own reference.
Your bank will then try to contact whoever received your money. If this person refuses to speak to the bank, or doesn't want the transaction to be reversed, then 'nothing else can be done'.
Though the person who received your money won't legally be allowed to spend it, it is very difficult to enforce this - data protection laws protect that person's identity. That's why, if you receive some funds in error, you should contact your bank to try and get it back to its rightful owner.
If, eight weeks after your complaint, your bank hasn't got back to you (or has said that it wasn't their fault and rejected your complaint), you should get in touch with the Financial Ombudsman Service.
A solicitor, Narinder Sandhu, told AOL Money: "Any decision made by the Ombudsman can be appealed, but if they reject it after the appeal stage, then your last resort would be to bring legal proceedings against your bank. If you decide to do this, the claim can be brought as a breach of the Payment Services Regulations 2009."
Of course, the best way to avoid losing money in this way is to be extremely careful when you're filling out payment details. A spokesperson from the Payments Council told AOL Money: "Payments are processed only using the sort code and account number and getting them wrong is like sending a letter with the wrong address."
So check the details, then double-check them - then check them again. It may help to read each number aloud to make sure that it matches up exactly (be particularly careful if you're not doing this somewhere private!).
We have created some handy guides to staying safe online, so if you would like some further information, take a look at the links below.