Has someone setup a fraudulent direct debit on your account?


Although in recent weeks my Monday blog has often been filled by one of my other writers or with a guest post, this week I wanted to share something that I heard on the news over the weekend because I feel as many people as possible need to be warned about a scam that has been hitting the bank accounts of several individuals.

What is the scam?

The scam basically involves people very easily being able to setup up a direct debit on your account to pay for goods or services that they have purchased or subscribed to and here’s the kicker, they can even do it using their own name and address.


When someone sets up a direct debit – which I’m sure you’ve done many times yourself – you are asked to hand over certain personal details which usually include the following:

  • Your name
  • Your bank account number
  • Your sort code
  • The address of your bank (Easily accessible online)

Firstly you’ll notice one very important piece of information missing from this list the makes the direct debit scheme so vulnerable to fraud, your address. Let’s imagine that a fraudster walks into a store to purchase a mobile phone on contract. They pay for the mobile phone in cash but they are then asked to setup a direct debit to cover the monthly contract payments. They fill out the direct debit mandate but instead of using their own account details they use yours instead, remember they have paid in cash for the phone so may not have had to show any further proof of identification. When the bank receives these details electronically, they appear to be correct and so the bank treats them as a legitimate request and automatically sets up a direct debit on your account to pay for the fraudsters contract.

It gets worse 

If you’re feeling outraged by how easy it is for someone to setup a direct debit on your account using your name, how might you feel to discover that they are even able to do it using their own name? Well that’s exactly what is happening today due to the widespread use of electronic direct debit mandates.

Back in the good old days of human banking, when a bank clerk received a request to authorise a payment from the account, they would very easily have been able to verify that the identification details being presented on the mandate actually matched the details on the account. Now that most direct debits are set up automatically though, it transpires that BACS (The people who run the Direct Debit System) actually have no way of checking whether the name that is used to setup a direct debit matches the name of the bank account holder. So what are we saying here?

We are effectively saying that a fraudster can very easily setup a direct debit to come out of your account to pay for goods or services that they have bought or subscribed to and they can do so using their own name and their own address. All they need is your bank account number and sort code which very handily sits on the front of many debit cards.

Check your statements regularly 

For the time being there is absolutely no system in place to prevent this kind of fraud from taking place and it doesn’t seem that there will be one implemented any time soon. So what can you do to protect yourself from this kind of direct debit fraud?

The only thing you can realistically do to protect yourself is to check your statement every month – or if you bank online as frequently as possible – to try and catch any unauthorised direct debits and then cancel them as soon as possible. You may think that you have things pretty much covered but most of us have so many small amounts regularly leaving our accounts these days that it is easy to become complacent. Remember though that it’s small amounts that are usually targeted by fraudsters to take your money because they are so easily missed.

Have you been a victim of direct debit fraud or do you know someone who has?  

11 Responses to Has someone setup a fraudulent direct debit on your account?

  1. I’ve never heard of this. It’s crazy how easy it direct debit can be set up. I always make it a point to look over my statements. I never trust that it is right and question many things. I live by the motto that no one cares about my money as much as me.

  2. Wow, Adam, I was not aware of this! I’m usually pretty good about keeping an eye on the bank accounts, but I’ll be extra careful now. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Nigel Dibben says:

    We have a club account and have had this problem several times this year. In all cases, the fraudulent “recipient” was an insurance company name. The bank (who shall be nameless) seem to be unable to stop it and their only suggestion was to change the account number. Instead, I shall transfer the account to another bank.

  4. Beryl Bartholomew says:

    I have been the victim of two fraudulent Direct Debits the two companies involved & my bank are currently investigating the fraud & further direct debits have been cancelled. Should I cancel my debit card now or wait until the investigations have been completed.

    Very worried that further attempts will be made on my account.

  5. Janet Brayj says:

    I left TalkTalk after the hack in 2015 and cancelled my direct debit and went over to Sky. On 18/05/17 there was an attempt to take £25.22 by TalkTalkLimited via direct debit from my account. I called my bank and this was refunded to me and I cancelled my direct debit. Since then a direct debit from TalkTalkLimited has shown up on my account on 19/06/17 and 11/08/17. I was able to cancel the direct debit before any money was taken as I check my direct debits every day since the first attempt was made. I have contacted TalkTalk by phone and customer relations by mail. They don’t even acknowledge that there is an issue!

  6. Martian Hamtin says:

    My elderly Mother had her oven cleaned by a company who claimed to be a national oven cleaning brand and she paid by cheque after the work (poorly done) was done. She was given a receipt but this had no company heading on it. It later transpired that a Direct Debit appeared on Mother’s statement in respect of a breakdown insurance policy on the oven. This was for £30.00 a month. Given that Mother has a counter top oven with two boiling rings which cost £65.00 years ago, apart from the fraud aspect, protecting the oven is ludicrous! Called the bank who gave me the full details of the applicant from the mandate. Cancelled the Direct Debit and called the company for an explanation. They said my mother had set up the arrangement but they would call me back. They never called back. Watch your statements carefully! Always use reputable companies and never agree to having work done from cold calls. Get companies who contact you prospecting to send their details to you by post.

  7. Emma Pike says:


    This has happened to me and I am ashamed to say I failed to notice until a year had passed! I will be checking DD mandates on a weekly basis from now on. I am shocked that it is so easy.

  8. Vanessa Farley says:

    I just discovered that I had a DD set up electronically on my account in oct 17 that stated PayPal (has nothing to do with PayPal) and have only just noticed it. Many debits mirrored my legit transactions and embarrassed to say I have lost £6180 🥴 until now I never took much notice! Believe me that has now changed. When I googled the name attached to this DD…… wow I came across a deluge of messages from people on different sites, staying same had happened to them. The name my bank gave me that is attached to theses direct debit is MAUREEN WHITTMARSH JPMC BANK! A scam indeed! My bank would not do anything about is and nor would other peoples banks who have gone through the same as me. Apparently the banks state we authorised DD as 01p went through our account at start of DD and as we didn’t query the 01p we accepted it. 😱

    • Adam Buller says:

      Thanks for sharing Vanessa, hope this helps some people!

    • Dominique Aleza says:

      Hi Vanessa, I am going through this right now. I have never authorised this direct debit though so I am praying that I will get my money back. I have never authorised this payment so I hope that under the direct debit guarantee this will get me my funds back.

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