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The Direct Debit Guarantee: your rights as a customer

Charlotte Robinson
Written by

Last editedJune 20242 min read

The Direct Debit guarantee is the Direct Debit scheme’s customer protection. The guarantee is offered by all building societies and banks who accept direct debits. As a customer, the Direct Debit Guarantee protects you against payments made in error or fraudulently. This means Direct Debit is the safest payment method in the UK.

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The Direct Debit Guarantee in Plain English

We’ve written in more detail about the Direct Debit Guarantee in our Direct Debit user guide but thought it might be helpful to set out the three rules you need to know about – in plain English.

  1. Advance notice. You must be told about any changes to the amount, date or frequency of a payment in advance. You can agree any notice period with a merchant (check their terms and conditions) but if no other time period is agreed it will be 10 working days. If you are not given the correct notice of a payment then you will be entitled to claim a refund.

  2. Immediate refunds. You can get a full and immediate refund from your bank (also known as an “indemnity claim”) for any payment taken in error.

  3. Instant cancellations. You can cancel a Direct Debit payment at any time before the payment is due to be made. If a payment is taken after you have cancelled it you will be entitled to an immediate refund.

How to claim a refund under the Direct Debit Guarantee

If a Direct Debit payment has been taken in error you will be entitled to a full and immediate refund from your bank. To claim your refund:

  1. Contact your bank in writing or over the phone to ask for a refund.

  2. If they fail to give you a refund, contact them again in writing, escalating to your Branch Manager or Customer Service Manager and referring directly to the Direct Debit Guarantee.

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How to cancel a Direct Debit

1. How do you cancel a Direct Debit?

You just need to let either the person or organisation you are paying or your bank know that you want to cancel your Direct Debit (their details should be included on your Direct Debit mandate form). You can do this in writing or electronically or orally. However, if you do cancel using the phone or internet, you may also need to give written confirmation.

We’d recommend speaking to both your bank and the organisation concerned. You could do this by sending the organisation a copy of the letter you send to your bank.

Remember: Cancelling a Direct Debit simply stops payments from going to the organisation you are paying. If you carry on receiving the goods or service or if you have a contract then you will need to set up an alternative payment method.

2. When can you cancel a Direct Debit?

You can cancel a Direct Debit at any time.

Your bank or building society will generally need at least one day's notice before the Direct Debit is due to be paid. Find out how much time your bank needs to process a cancellation and try not to leave it until the last minute or the payment may still be made.

3. What information do you need to include to cancel a Direct Debit?

Make sure you include:

  • The name of the organisation you’re paying.

  • The name(s) of the account holder(s) for your bank account.

  • Your branch sort code.

  • Your bank or building society account number.

  • Your reference with the organization (if known).

The more information you can give, the easier it will be for your bank to action, so if you know the amount and payment date include this too.

What if the Direct Debit is not cancelled?

Once you’ve cancelled a Direct Debit take care to check your bank statements going forwards to ensure your instruction has been followed.

If your bank doesn’t cancel your Direct Debit and a payment is taken after you’ve asked for it to be cancelled, you’ll be entitled to an immediate refund from your bank under the Direct Debit Guarantee.

If you’d like to find out more about Direct Debit from a customer perspective, you may find our Payer’s Guide to Direct Debit helpful.

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