Helpdesk: Continuous payment authority turns into consumer nightmare

When contacting a bank it’s best to do so in writing rather than by phone or e-mail

Q I’ve been having terrible problems recently with my bank. I took out a pay-day loan with, and foolishly agreed to a continuous payment authority (CPA). I now know this was a big mistake on my part, as it means they can take money from my account whenever they like without even asking me. I want to be clear: I’m not trying to get out of repaying the loan. I always pay my debts and I will pay this one – I just want to do it in my own way and not have money taken from my account which is reserved for other things, like rent and food!

“So after the loan company had taken two such payments from my account, I went to my bank to ask them to cancel the CPA.

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“But the bank have been extremely unhelpful. First they told me that I could only cancel a CPA by cancelling my card – which I’ve since found is not true. Next, they gave me a phone number to call. I called this and was told that as the CPA was not a recurring payment, there is basically nothing I can do to stop the payments from leaving my account.

“At this point I asked my local CAB to intercede for me, but the bank was again extremely unhelpful and refused to deal with the CAB .

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“Eventually they agreed but only after many phone calls and visits. Is it always this hard to get a bank to help its clients?”

CK, Glasgow

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A Citizens Advice Scotland says: “You need to cancel your CPA. The law says you can withdraw your consent and stop a card payment at any time up to the end of business on the day before the payment is due. You do this by simply telling whoever issued your card (in this case, your bank) that you don’t want a payment to be made. You can do this by phone, e-mail or letter but we’d advise you to do it in writing. If your bank does not co-operate, point out that they should follow the Financial Services Authority guidance (see the Know Your Rights booklet at the FSA website”

• If you have a consumer issue, contact Claire Smith on 0131 620 8511 or e-mail [email protected]