Code of Practice
This Code sets out the standards of good practice to be observed by the members of the British Cheque Cashers Association. It may be supplemented from time to time by additional recommendations and guidelines agreed by the BCCA Executive, which may be deemed to have the same effect as the formal provisions of this Code. The Association will monitor the compliance of members with the Code and shall publish each year a report on its findings. Failure to implement these standards fully may result in disciplinary measures being taken against the member, and may ultimately, subject to a right of appeal, result in expulsion from membership of the Association. The Code is effective from 1st January 1999 and will be reviewed from time to time, and in any event at intervals of no more than three years. Members will display the sign below in a prominent position in the public part of their premises, together with a notice drawing attention both to this Code and to the availability of the BCCA Dispute Resolution System.
The Code has been prepared by the British Cheque Cashers Association for adoption by its members in the conduct of their business. The Code relates to the activity of Cheque Cashing or Cheque Discounting of third party cheques. The purpose of the Code is to:-
a) Set out the standards of good practice which members will follow in their dealings with their customers.
b) Encourage the confidence of new and existing customers in their dealings with Association members.
c) Discourage the use of the Cheque Cashing system for fraudulent or criminal purposes, including tax evasion.
The governing principles of the Code are that members will:-
a) Act fairly, reasonably and with care in all their dealings with their customers.
b) Take all reasonable steps to ensure that customers understand the services being offered, to enable them to make an informed choice before entering into any contract.
c) Maintain constant vigilance against fraud and report any suspected fraudulent activity to the relevant authorities.
d) Provide effective means of training to any of their staff involved in Cheque Cashing to ensure that the provisions of this Code are met at all times.
e) Provide a safe and secure place of business for their staff and customers.
f) Endeavour to make their premises accessible to disabled persons where reasonably practical.
Obtain reliable information about the identity of a person seeking to cash a cheque and of their entitlement to the cheque in order to assist in protecting customers (payees), the drawers of cheques, members of the public and themselves against fraud and other misuse of the Cheque Cashing system, including tax evasion.
Provide potential customers with the details of the identification and other information required.
Explain in plain language and in writing the terms and conditions of the Cheque Cashing Service such as to provide a complete view of the relationship between the customer and the member, and offer help if there is anything which the customer does not understand.
Advise customers of any change or variation to the service before further transactions take place: such changes will not ever be retrospective.
Display prominently a printed scale of charges at each point of sale: new or revised scales will clearly indicate the date from which they take effect.
Advise the customer about charges for services outside the published tariff before or at the time the service is provided.
Maintain constant vigilance against fraudulent activity.
Display details of their internal complaints procedures by way of a notice in the public part of the Member's premises, together with a notice drawing attention to the availability of this Code and of the BCCA Dispute Resolution System.
Correct any mistake made quickly and courteously.
Observe a strict duty of confidentiality about their customers' and former customers' business and not disclose details of customer transactions or their names and addresses to any third party other than in the exceptional cases described below, namely:-
i) Where a Member is legally compelled to do so.
ii) Where there is a public duty to do so.
iii) Where the interests of the Member requires disclosure.
iv) Where disclosure is made at the request, or with the consent of the customer.
Provide in a prominent position in agreements notification that information concerning fraudulent or suspected fraudulent transactions may be shared with other members via the BCCA bad debt and fraud avoidance database and that such information may be made available to legal authorities and others involved in the fight against fraud as appropriate and also be used for the purposes of debt recovery.
At all times, in respect of customer records held on computer, or in structured manual files, comply with the provisions of the Data Protection legislation in force at the time when obtaining and processing customers' data.
Explain to their customers, if requested to do so, that customers have a right of access, under current Data Protection legislation, to their personal records.
Display information indicating the fact that they are members of the Association and that no notice of termination of membership has been received.
Conduct any action against a defaulter in a legal and proper manner.
Maintain and generally conduct their business from trade premises accessible to the public. However, they may be permitted to trade outside their trade premises provided that they only trade with customers in those customers' own homes, that those customers have conducted documented business with the member on the member's trade premises for a minimum period of six months, and that the information which would normally be available on trade premises (including that concerning charges and redress) is also always made available to those customers in their homes.
Ensure that all advertising and promotional material is clear, reasonable, truthful and not misleading, and that, where relevant, they conform to the provisions of The British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion.
Not undertake transactions or series of transactions that are beyond their financial ability.
Not cash open Girocheques which can be cashed free of charge at a Post Office.
Comply with all current and future legislation, and, in particular, the provisions of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1994. Comply also with all relevant judicial decisions.
MARKETING OF SERVICES
Not pass customers' names or addresses to other companies, including companies in the same group, in the absence of express written consent, and will not use exception iii) above to justify the disclosure for marketing purposes of details of customers' transactions, names or addresses to any third party or to other members of the Member's group.
Give new customers at the time of registration the opportunity to give instructions that they do not wish to receive marketing material, and also honour any such request made at a later date.
Advise private individuals proposing to give them a guarantee for another person's liabilities that:-
i) by giving the guarantee he or she may become liable instead of, or as well as, the other person.
ii) he or she should seek independent legal advice before entering into a guarantee.
iii) guarantees will contain a clear and prominent notice to the above effect.
Have their own internal procedures for handling customer complaints promptly, speedily and equitably. Provide customers who wish to make a complaint with information on how to do so and advise them of what further steps are available. Complaints not resolved to the customer's satisfaction may be referred in writing by the customer to the Chief Executive of the British Cheque Cashers Association at the address shown at the end of this Code and duly investigated.
Any complaint not resolved by this process of conciliation to the satisfaction of the customer may be referred to the BCCA's Arbitration Scheme, operated by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, provided it falls within the scope of that Scheme. The decision of the arbitrator shall be binding on the parties to the dispute. The costs of arbitration to each party shall be decided upon by the arbitrator.
Any complaint which is not within the scope of the Arbitration Scheme shall be considered by the Association, which will take such action as it deems appropriate.
Nothing in this Code restricts the rights of a customer or member to pursue remedies through the courts, except where the complainant has already sought resolution by binding arbitration.
Members will, as well as establishing the identity of each customer:-
Maintain a record of each customer's identity, including a note of documents produced and references taken, for a minimum period of six years.
Maintain a transaction record for at least six years, specifying the identity of each Payee and Drawer and the date and the amount of each transaction.
Maintain a photographic system of customer identification for a minimum period of six months.
Conduct all transactions on a face to face basis.
Comply with the British Cheque Cashers Association's Money Laundering Policy and Guidelines.
Ensure that details of any fraud or attempted fraud are submitted promptly to the BCCA for inclusion in its bad debt and fraud avoidance database.
Co-operate fully with designated authorities investigating suspected criminal or fraudulent activity, including tax evasion.