Home Wire Transfers How Safe Are Bank Transfers

Are Bank Transfers Safe?

Bank transfers may be an increasingly popular way to make purchases, receive money, and send money, but how safe are they? Moreover, with the multiple different ways you can wire money both domestically and internationally these days, which method is the most secure? In this guide, we’ll look at how secure your money is when transferring funds via bank transfer.

Updated: 03/06/2021
Read time: 6 minutes
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Sending your money via a bank transfer can be a convenient way to transfer your money either domestically or internationally, but it does require a certain level of trust in the person or organisation you are sending your money to, not to mention the institution you are relying on to transport your money.

Until you receive confirmation that your money has been safely received on the other end, it may not be explicitly clear what exactly is happening to your funds once they leave your account. Particularly for those making international transfers, that can be a worrying 5 to 7 working days wondering if your money is still safe.

Is it safe to pay by bank transfer?

Money transfers from your bank are usually a fast, safe, and convenient way of sending money, provided care is taken that you are sending your money to a trusted recipient. Read on for a better overview of the rules and regulations banks and money transfer companies have in place to keep your money secure.

Your options for making safe bank transfers

  • Making a transfer with your bank: Initiating a bank transfer with your bank is a convenient way to send money, whether you’re simply sending your half of the bill to a friend on a night out, or are sending large sums of money home to family abroad.

    Bank transfers are considered a secure way to send money, some will allow you to wire money with a credit card or debit card, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best method when you consider other factors such as fees and transfer time. There are ways to wire money for free, check our guide on making free wire transfer to learn more.
  • Money transfer providers: If you’re sending money abroad, money transfer providers give you the option to pay for your transfer via bank transfer, debit/credit card, and in some cases, cash. Similarly to virtual bank accounts, money transfer operators focus mostly on online transfers making money transfers easy 24/7.

    Transfer providers are a popular choice for sending money because of their low fees and competitive exchange rates, but these operators are also a secure and legitimate way of moving your money around.
Making an international bank transfer with WorldRemit

WorldRemit is one of our top recommended partners for international bank transfers, providing fast transfers to over 150 countries worldwide.

One of the biggest appeals to a money transfer provider such as WorldRemit is the company’s low fees for sending money abroad and more competitive exchange rates than a traditional bank.

New bank transfer safety rules 

Earlier in 2020, new bank transfer rules became law in order to protect customers further when making domestic wire transfers. Major banks are now required to have increased security checks known as ‘confirmation as payee’ – a measure that was first introduced in October 2018 but only became law on the 30th June 2020.

The security measures mean that as well as requiring your recipient’s bank account and sort code for a domestic wire transfer, you are now also required to supply your recipient’s full name. If the name given does not match with the bank account on record, your bank will notify you before you make the transfer.

These rules come into place in order to tackle bank fraud scams, in which people would pose under someone else’s name in order to trick others into sending money. Major banks including First Direct, Halifax, Lloyds, RBS, NatWest, Nationwide, Santander, and TSB have now implemented these additional measures. 

2020 bank transfer regulations

You should note that these new rules that came into effect earlier in 2020 only apply to domestic bank transfers, not international transactions.

For this reason, checking all of your details are correct and only sending to a trusted party is always recommended.

What can affect the safety of bank transfers?

Incorrectly entered digits or information

It is of paramount importance that you check you have the correct information for your bank transfer before you initiate it. This includes checking the bank account number, sort code, IBAN/BIC, and name of your recipient is all as it should be.

Your bank may not register that you have entered your details incorrectly until your funds have already left your account. This can lead to severe delays in getting your money refunded back to you before you can re-start your transfer – and will most likely mean you end up paying far more fees for a transfer than necessary.

Can a wire transfer be reversed? Fortunately, yes. As soon as you realise that you have accidentally sent money to the wrong account, notify your bank. The earlier you are able to notify your bank or transfer provider of a mistake, the more likely you are to have your funds returned to you. Your bank or remittance provider will work with the receiving bank to try to get your money back for you. 

The good news is that the chances of you accidentally entering the wrong account details that actually line up with another person’s bank account are relatively slim – more realistically, the mistake will be picked up automatically by the institution you are using to send your funds and the money will bounce back to you.

SWIFT network

While the SWIFT system is considered secure and is used to transport billions across the world every day, it is not completely invulnerable to cyber hacks. The SWIFT network is considered a secure way for banks to send information to one another, including money transfer information. However, the network also means that this information can go through a number of institutions before it reaches your final destination, and the most stops, the higher the risk for your information to be intercepted.

With that said, the most important thing you can do to ensure your money stays safe when sending it via bank transfer is to verify that you are absolutely certain you have the correct information for your recipient and that you are sending your money to someone you trust before you initiate a transfer.

Transfer securely with money transfer providers

Money transfer providers are an alternative way to send money via bank transfer across the world. These companies are a popular alternative to traditional banks because they often have lower fees, better exchange rates, and faster transfer times, but an understandable concern is how they keep your money safe.

Most reputable money transfer companies will be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Operators that we recommend regulated by the FCA include TorFX, TransferWise, Azimo, Currency Fair, WorldRemit, PaySend, and Xoom (plus many more). The FCA ensures that a transfer provider is legitimate and has the necessary security in place to provide safe money transfers.

In addition, most transfer providers will provide details of the additional security measures they have in place. For example, most transfer companies have encryption technology and multiple verification steps to protect your account and your money.

Bottom line: how safe are bank transfers?

As a method of sending money from one account to another, bank transfers are inherently safe. Human error is most likely to play the biggest part in your transfer going wrong, so here are a couple of key takeaways to ensure your transfers are hassle-free:

  • Always ensure you trust the person or organisation you are sending money by bank transfer to
  • Double-check that you have the correct information for your recipient, including the account and sort number
  • If you are sending money to someone you don’t know, consider an alternative method such as using your credit card which gives you additional protection

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Yasmin Purnell

Yasmin is the content writer for MoneyTransfers.com. With an English degree from the University of Nottingham and over 5 years’ experience freelancing in the personal finance niche, Yasmin joined the team with a mission to make international money transfers accessible and easy to understand for all. When she’s not writing, you’ll find Yasmin on her yoga mat or planning her next escape to the mountains.

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