Shoppers have warned that debit and credit cards could be declined online from Monday


New online shopping rules could mean that people buying items over the internet could have their credit and/or debit card declined. Starting Monday, March 14, retailers must verify who is making the purchase before authorizing payment.

Under the new rules, consumers will receive a code from their bank when they try to buy a product online and then enter the security number when paying. In most cases the code will be sent to people’s cell phones, but the bank may refuse payment if they are unable to verify that the transaction is genuine or if the retailer is not set up to perform verification, reports ChronicleLive.

The new layer of security will be known as “Strong Customer Authentication (SCA)” and is being introduced as part of the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) new fraud prevention rules. Some banks have already warned customers that some online retailers may not be ready, leading to cards being declined.

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Credit and debit cards may be declined

At the end of January, First Direct told current account holders: “As we get closer to the regulatory date, the number of times you will notice you are being asked to verify that it is you who is making the payment will increase. If the retailer is not ready for the new process, there could be times when your card could be declined.”

Why are the rules changing?

The new controls are aimed at tackling credit card fraud, where scammers go on a spending spree using stolen details.

What exactly changes?

From Monday, online retailers will be required to verify the identity of shoppers before authorizing payment. A one-time passcode will usually be sent via text message, but most banks offer the option of sending an email or automated message to your landline if your internet signal is weak.

Alternatively, you may be prompted to approve payments by logging into your bank’s mobile app.

Should I check every time I buy something?

The Mastercard card provider estimates that one in four payments will require additional verification.

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Is anything exempt from verification?

Some online transactions are exempt, such as low value purchases and those considered minimal risk by banks. Retailers with low levels of fraud will also be able to make larger payments without going through further checks.

What about monthly payments or subscriptions, like Netflix?

If you make regular payments for subscriptions on your card, you won’t be asked to enter a code each time money comes out of your account.

My signal is not good. What if I don’t receive the message?

Make sure your bank has all your contact details so that there are other ways to reach you, such as mobile and landline numbers and an email address. It is currently unclear whether card companies will need to try more than one verification path, and which, if any, they should do first.

I’m already verifying some payments. What is changing?

Some banks and retailers already use the additional security check for customers spending a large amount of money or when using a website for the first time.

The new rules were supposed to be in place by September 14, 2019. But the deadline was extended by 18 months and then pushed back again due to the pandemic.

The new SCA verification process is an extension of the rules that have applied to online and mobile banking since March 14, 2020, so you may have already noticed certain actions requiring identity confirmation, including signing in and money transfer to someone else.

And SCA checks also already apply if you make several contactless payments in a row totaling more than £300, when you’re asked to verify your identity by entering your PIN.

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Will this apply to all payments?

Each provider will have their own definition of “high risk” and “low risk” transactions, but, according to, the following are generally more likely to be checked:

  • Online payments over £25;
  • Online payments up to £25 when you have made multiple consecutive payments totaling more than £85;
  • New or Changed Recurring Payments.

Should I verify Paypal or Klarna payments?

The new rules also apply to transactions made through PayPal and buy-it-now, pay-later companies, such as Klarna.

What about Apple Pay?

Apple Pay already meets the requirements, as customers must enter an access code or prove their identity using fingerprint or facial recognition technology.

Are all retailers ready for Monday?

Many large stores, such as Amazon and Asda, say they have been prepared for the new rules for some time. But smaller stores can struggle to meet the deadline – and risk significant losses if payments are declined.

Mike Cherry, President of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “With the current turbulent economic conditions, small retailers already have a lot on their plate and may not have the bandwidth to handle this on their own, especially if a small online retail operation is a bolt-on primarily brick-and-mortar business.”

How do I know text is not a scam?

Your bank or card company will never ask you for your PIN, password, date of birth, address or other personal information to verify a payment under this system, so if you are asked for other anything but a verification code, it’s probably a scam. It’s also important to stay alert and be aware that some scammers may be using these new rules as an opportunity to try and get their hands on your personal and financial information.

If my payment is declined, will this affect my credit rating?

Your credit or debit card decline will have no impact on your credit score.

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