Direct Debits: frequently asked questions

What is a Direct Debit?
A Direct Debit is a payment of an agreed amount made from a customer’s bank or building society account to a named organisation, authorised by a Direct Debit Instruction. The payment amounts and dates may vary, but the customer is always advised of changes in advance.

Can I cancel a Direct Debit Instruction?
Yes. You can cancel Direct Debit Instructions by writing to your bank or building society. Sending a copy to the organisation you had the Direct Debit agreement with is helpful.

What happens if a mistake is made?
If an organisation that you have an agreement with, or your bank or building society, makes a mistake, you are guaranteed a full and immediate refund of the amount.

What happens when the payment amount or date changes?
The organisation that you have a Direct Debit agreement with will notify you in writing, normally 10 days in advance of the payment, giving you time to query the payment amount or date if necessary. Direct Debit payments will keep being made until they are cancelled, so you do not need to make a new Direct Debit Instruction when the payment amount or date changes.

If I set up a Direct Debit over the telephone or internet, what record will I have?
The organisation that you have an agreement with will send you written confirmation of your Direct Debit Instruction within three working days of arranging it over the telephone or online, or at least 10 working days before the first payment. In case of doubt, check the details of your Direct Debit Instruction, and contact the organisation that you have an agreement with. However you sign up for a Direct Debit, you are still covered by the Direct Debit Guarantee.

If I agree to a Direct Debit Instruction, can money be taken out of my account whenever the organisation likes?
No. An organisation that you have a Direct Debit agreement with can only collect the agreed payment amount and will advise you of any changes to the payment date, frequency or amount in writing.

What if I have insufficient money in my account to pay a Direct Debit?
If the Direct Debit is returned unpaid, the bank or building society with usually make a second attempt within a few days.

What sort of account do I need to use Direct Debits?
You can set up Direct Debits with most current accounts at banks and building societies. If in doubt, speak to your bank or building society.

Can any organisation collect money by Direct Debit?
No. Banks and building societies only allow organisations with known integrity and sound financial and administrative capabilities to take payments by Direct Debit. These checks are even more stringent for Paperless Direct Debits.

Will I still receive bills or statements?
Yes, but you will only receive statements for your information so you can check the payment amounts and dates against your bank or building society statement.

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