Card transactions by proxy

Peter Mitchell otcbn at
Tue Apr 5 09:00:51 BST 2011

Roland Perry wrote  on 4-04-11 08:24:
> In article <4D98E818.3040802 at>, Peter Mitchell 
> <otcbn at> writes
>> One possible alternative is to pay a cheque over the counter at a 
>> branch of the bank where the council's collection account is held. 
>> Their bank will be named on the Bank Giro Credit slips provided in 
>> your council tax paybook.
> But you are assuming there is uniformity between councils. Cambridge 
> scrapped their paybook back in about 2000 (when they introduced the card 
> that Tony mentions above). 

I see. No, I didn't know that. Mine (London Borough of 
Kingston) still provides paybooks, including the collection 
account details.

They abolished their cashiers' counters some years ago. When 
they first did this it was impossible to get them
to admit that they would accept a cheque sent in the post.
In practice, if you sent them one, they'd cash it; but it
wasn't on their list of Approved Methods of paying council tax.

Naturally, direct debit is their preferred method. There's
nothing like having unrestricted access to other people's
bank accounts.

> Since then, the details of their bank account
> (for people wanting to pay by standing order) has been a closely guarded 
> secret. It is suspected that their motivation is to move as many people 
> as possible to DD.

Suspected? It is a dead cert. Every such organisation is
trying to push its customers into paying by DD. Some of them
are at least honest enough to give you a discount for it, or
(less honourably but, in the end, equivalently) charge you
for not doing it.

I haven't previously come across this ingenious method of
concealing their bank account though.

> Similarly my own council (Rushcliffe) hasn't had a paybook all the seven 
> years I've lived here. And as well as closing their cash office, this 
> year they've removed the details of paying by Giro (at Post Office or a 
> bank) from the back of the bill.
> But they have always published the account numbers for standing order, 
> just not the name of the bank [although through the magic of the 
> interweb, I can turn it into the local HSBC branch; which has another 
> interesting feature - they have no counter service, just a range of 
> machines in the lobby that I doubt you can use for paying into random 
> accounts, rather than accounts you have a special card for].

If it's like my local HSBC branch, yes you can. These
machines have built-in OCR/scanners allowing you to feed in
the Bank Giro Credit slip and your cheque, and the machine
reads them and somehow pays the money over from your
chequing account into the collection account via Giro 
(whatever that is), and prints you a receipt. You don't need 
to have an HSBC account or a card.

This is a loophole that will no doubt soon be closed on
money laundering grounds, since it makes things easier for
ordinary citizens.

Pete Mitchell

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