Sending an electronic payment with the wrong sort code or account number is like sending a letter with the wrong post code and address – it won’t reach its intended destination and it can be very difficult to get back. Yet more than half of people (55%) incorrectly believe the recipient’s name is checked when sending an electronic payment according to research carried out for Payments UK.
To address this issue, Payments UK has led an industry project to look at the collaborative steps that can be taken to prevent payments being sent in error. We commissioned specialist digital consultancy Adaptive Lab to carry out user experience research which has resulted in a new consumer guide, published on our Pay Your Way advice website and updated guidance for the industry - covering principles, design features and considerations for them to consider as part of their online and mobile banking payment processes.

Preventing payments in error, Adaptive Lab

Payments UK is also leading work that has highlighted a potential longer-term solution to the issue of payments being sent in error. Our World Class Payments project has recommended that the development of a ‘confirmation of payee’ capability across the industry should be a priority as it would further reduce the risk of errors when making electronic payments. 


Top tips to prevent errors when sending payments

  • Double check
    Always double check the sort code and account number when sending a payment.
  • Check the reference 
    This is particularly important if you are paying a business.
  • Can you use Paym? 
    Paym lets you check the account holder’s name before confirming the payment.
  • Long lost friend?
    How long it is since you last paid that payee – do they still use the same account?
  • Stay up to date 
    Review your payee lists regularly and delete any you know are no longer being used.
  • Send a test
    Remind the person you are paying to double check the details they provide. For extra reassurance, you could send a low value test payment and check the funds are received.

How to avoid payment errors – a consumer guide


Sent a payment to the wrong place?

To help customers that have made a mistake when sending a mobile, online or phone banking payment, the UK payment schemes Faster Payments and Bacs have announced new procedures for banks and building societies to follow.

Although the improvements cannot guarantee a customer will get their money back, they mean that in straightforward cases where the recipient does not dispute the return of the funds, the money will be returned within 20 working days. 

You can find out more about the process on the Faster Payments website.

If you have made a mistake when sending a payment, you should contact your bank who will follow the process on your behalf. 

The latest enhancements mean that where there is clear evidence of a genuine mistake, the receiving bank will prevent the money being mistakenly spent by the recipient of the payment.  


Further information

For more information about Payments UK’s advice on preventing payments in error, or if you represent a payment service provider and would like to request a copy of the guidance for the industry, please email