The humble cheque may still survive

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The Independent Online

The humble cheque may yet get a reprieve. Mark Hoban, Financial Secretary to the Treasury said this week that there was no "credible and coherent case" for the abolition of cheques. Meanwhile, the UK Payments Council – which is working to phase them out – said it would only do so when another paper-based system was tried and tested.

The Council's chairman Richard North said: "We have not made a decision to close the cheque clearing system. The first time we will look at this is in 2016." In other words it is going to be five years before the industry even begins to discuss getting rid of cheques. However, if there is a workable alternative payment systems in place by then, the process of saying goodbye to cheques could be rapid.

So fans of the paper-based payments system would have been alarmed by this week's news that Vodafone, 02 and Orange/T-Mobile have joined up to speed up so-called "wave and pay" through mobile phones. The technology is already in place, and being used in some services, but the technology giants are confident a more widespread cross-network system could be up and running by the end of the year.

If so, it will be well established by 2015, meaning the decision to scrap cheques could then be a simple one. But the Payments Council should think carefully before doing so. There are still millions of people who prefer using cheques and they should be listened to. The Payments Council should not dictate to customers, but serve them. If there are people who still prefer to use cheques, they should be able to.

There has been a surge of fake phishing emails sent out by crooks in the run up to the tax credits renewal deadline on 31 July, according to HM Revenue & Customs.

The emails suggest you are due a tax rebate and offer a click through a link to what appears to be the HMRC website. But it is a bogus site designed to capture your credit and debit card details. If you get tricked by the fraudsters, they will use the information to try and get the cash from your account. Not only that, they will flog the data to other crooks, meaning the cyber attacks will continue.

More than 46,000 phishing emails have been reported since April, says HMRC. But the tax authorities say they will never contact customers due a tax refund by email or phone or texts. If you get approached online, you should report it to the authorities by forwarding the rogue email to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

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