Getting automated payments under control

The digitisation of our commercial lives has brought us new levels of convenience. Banking can be done on a phone app with no need to queue in-store, credit card bills can be paid online, train tickets bought on a phone and much, much more. Yet, this convenience can also come with ongoing obligations.

Recurring payments, for example, are a source of regular frustration for many consumers. Known, technically as Continuous Payment Authorities (CPAs) these agreements allow companies to take money from you in exchange for providing a service, such as subscription to an online service.

They appear to be just like Direct Debits but while Direct Debits take money from your bank account, CPAs take money from a payment card. While they are still subject to oversight by the FCA, they do not have the same set of rigorous consumer protection guarantees that Direct Debits do, such as ease of cancellation, compensation and refund, in the case of error.

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