The Banking Code Compliance Committee (BCCC) today released a report indicating that banks would comply with their direct debit obligation under the Banking Code of Practice (the Code) in only 71% of cases.
In March 2021, the BCCC conducted a mystery shopping exercise into banks’ compliance with their obligation to promptly cancel a customer’s direct debit on request.
The BCCC’s Independent Chair, Ian Govey AM, said that while the Committee acknowledged that banks’ compliance had improved when compared to historically low rates, the result is still a significant cause for concern.
“It means that 29% of the time, a customer may be given incorrect information. This is far below the BCCC’s expectations,” Mr Govey said.
The BCCC has called on banks to take additional steps to improve their compliance performance and has highlighted several initiatives they should adopt to comply, including:
- updating information on websites
- staff training and communications programs, and
- additional monitoring activities.
Banks must not ask or suggest that the customer needs to first contact a merchant or service provider to cancel a direct debit. This obligation gives customers control over their finances and this is especially important for customers who are experiencing financial difficulty.
The BCCC and its predecessor committee, the Code Compliance Monitoring Committee (CCMC), have been monitoring banks’ compliance with the direct debit obligations since 2008. In 2008, only 20% of contacts with bank staff members were considered to be indicative of compliant conduct.
The CCMC undertook further mystery shopping in 2017 and 2018, and the BCCC committed to further direct debits monitoring. The BCCC’s latest report found that in 71% of interactions would banks likely cancel a direct debit in response to a customer’s request.
The BCCC will continue to monitor banks’ progress to improve their compliance with the direct debit obligations.
René van de Rijdt
Acting Chief Executive Officer
Banking Code Compliance Committee
Further information about the Banking Code Compliance Committee is available on its website – bankingcode.org.au.
The BCCC’s report: BCCC compliance update: cancellation of direct debits is available on the BCCC’s website under Resources and Publications > Reports.