Britons 'unaware cheque guarantee system is ending'

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The Independent Online

Four out of 10 Britons are unaware that the cheque guarantee system will be closing this year, a survey indicated today.

Around 39% of people did not know that after June 30, they would no longer be able to guarantee a cheque payment by showing a cheque guarantee card with the Shakespeare hologram on it.

But the majority of people are unconcerned about the closure of the scheme, with 22% saying they have never used it and 49% saying they have not used it during the past year.

It is also thought that only a quarter of businesses have accepted a cheque backed by a cheque guarantee card during the past six months.

The closure of the system does not mean that people will no longer be able to use cheques, but that those cheques will no longer be guaranteed.

However, the Payments Council has set a target date of 2018 for closing the cheque clearing system completely, following a steep fall in the use of cheques.

Jacqui Tribe, manager of the UK Domestic Cheque Guarantee Card Scheme, said: "Over the next five months banks and building societies will be working hard to make sure that everyone who is still guaranteeing cheques with a plastic card is made aware of the change, but also to make it clear that they will still be able to use and accept cheques.

"Perhaps more importantly, banks will be contacting those small businesses that they know may still accept guaranteed cheques to explain what options they have after June 30."

Less than 7% of the 1.3 billion cheques that were written during 2009 were guaranteed, and by the end of last year less than three-quarters of debit cards also acted as cheque guarantee cards.

:: TNS questioned 2,000 people during November.

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