Bacs, DD hints and tips, Direct Debit, Direct Debit Training and Consultancy
Bacs, Bureau Service, Direct Debit, Security, Training
15, SEP 2014

Ensuring that you get your Direct Debit files to Bacs as scheduled is essential for any collecting organisation. Failure to do so will mean missed collections, restricted cash-flow and (potentially) unhappy customers! Indirect submitters can rely to some extent on their Bureau. Direct submitters however must ensure they have backup plans in place in case of disaster.

Are you confident that your organisation’s Direct Debit system is resilient and recoverable? Will it continue to operate despite serious incidents or disasters that might otherwise interrupt it? OR, can you ensure it will be recovered to an operational state within a reasonably short time period? Do you have a Contingency plan in place?

A whole range of factors can affect an organisations ability to submit their Direct Debit files on time. These can include disasters (such as fires, flood or even terrorist threat) – all of which can physically prevent access to the company office and the computer which contains your software (especially if its a stand-alone set-up). It could also include cyber threats, software malfunction, fraudulent activities, power cuts or even staff absence or loss of/damage to a SMART card.

Gavin Lawrence, Managing Director of Clear Direct Debit has spent many years providing advice to organisations keen to ensure uninterrupted Direct Debit collections. Based on the most common issues he sees, he has provided the following advice:

Top ten ‘best practice’ tips:

  1. Ensure that individuals keep their SMART cards with them – not locked in a draw in the office! (and therefore unobtainable if access to the office is not possible)
  2. Ensure that submission software (as well as customer databases) are backed up regularly and that the backed-up version is available remotely. If software is not backed up regularly you may not have the most up to date details.  Ensuring software is available remotely will mean your Direct Debit processing won’t be dependent on how quickly you can get the software re-installed should you be unable to access the office.
  3. Ensure Smart card software is installed on your back up machine – it is often overlooked and without it, you will not be able to authorise submissions.
  4. Ensure you keep your security contact details updated at the bank and at Bacs – if not, the bank / Bacs may be unable to accept verbal instructions regarding your Direct Debit files as they won’t recognise the individuals as authorised to provide them.
  5. Why not link to a Bureau? Its best practice advice to link for contingency purposes. If your systems fail, the Bureau can still submit files for you on an occasional / as required basis.
  6. Develop a Disaster Recovery plan – and have copies readily available (so you can actually access it in case of an emergency).  Test the plan regularly.
  7. Don’t share SMART cards or pin details – they are issued to a named individual and any transactions authorised by that card are the responsibility of that individual. Also, have more than one Smart card active at any time to ensure the ability to process in case of loss/damage to one of the cards.
  8. Do not leave Smart cards in the smart card reader after submitting the Direct Debit files. This helps ensure that cards don’t get lost or damaged
  9. Ensure operating systems are patched and supported and that anti-virus software is installed and regularly updated
  10. Be aware of when software systems are coming to their end of their life. If support from the software provider stops then you might want to consider either upgrading or switching to an out-sourced, Bureau option.

Above all else, ensuring that your staff are trained in how to successfully operate a Direct Debit system will help enable your team to manage any issues that arise – in a compliant and speedy way.

Do you have questions about your Direct Debits systems? Have you considered an Audit to assess how resilient and compliant they are? Are you interested in linking to a Bureau for contingency purposes? For all these questions and more, please contact us to discuss.