A guide to advance notice for Direct Debits

Advance notice is one of the fundamental protections afforded by the Direct Debit guarantee. It ensures that you provide your customer with a notification when:

  • They’ve signed a Direct Debit mandate
  • Payment changes are made to the account
  • Date changes are made

 

Failing to provide advance notice will put you in breach of the Direct Debit scheme. As you can probably guess – this is somewhere you don’t want to be.

On the one, much more lenient, hand, your customer will be entitled to a full and immediate refund. On the other, you’ll find yourself the subject of unpleasant sanctions.

Save yourself a big black mark and get savvy on advance notice.

How advanced is advance notice?

You should be providing your customer or client with 10 days advance notice before a payment is taken from their account. Whilst you can agree a shorter period between you (keep a signed record if you do), 10 days only include working days and does not take weekends or bank holidays into account.

Take note… a single notification is enough for fixed payments.

If you take fixed payments, you can send one notification with details of the payment frequency and amount i.e. £50 on the 1st of every month. But if there are any changes to this, advance notice must be resent according to the above rules.

What to include in advance notice

Advance notice must contain information on the following:

  • Direct Debit reference (a name or information on the service provider)
  • The collection amount
  • The collection date
  • The frequency or schedule of payments
  • Advance notice period
  • Service provider contact details

 

Remember – Take care not to overload your customers with too much information to the point that it is either irrelevant or nonsensical. Be clear, concise and most of all, pertinent.

Do I need to worry if a payment comes out too late or too early?

There will be times when a payment doesn’t come out on the date stipulated in your advance notice. But don’t worry – you have three days grace on or within the specified date.

How to send advance notice

In line with the updated Service User Guide & Rules to the Direct Debit Scheme, it is a prohibited practice to issue advance notice through your website. Effort must be taken to contact the customer directly. Advance notice can be provided in writing, electronically, or orally (oral should only be taken as a last resort as it isn’t recordable or traceable). Formats include letter, invoice, statement and email.

Tip: make sure you are sending advance notice to the CORRECT person. This is the person whose account you will be taking money out of. It’s not necessarily the customer.

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