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More often not recognized: Consumers report problems with their account number IBAN

The Sepa Complaints Office, which was set up at the end of May, receives three to five cases a week.

This is communicated by lawyer Peter Breun-Goerke in Bad Homburg. In these cases, foreign accounts would not be recognized by insurers or credit card companies for offsetting - although this should be expressly possible in the Sepa cross-border payments area ("Single Euro Payments Area").

For example, employees from other European countries who work in Germany but still want to use their bank details at home are affected. Or foreign students who are asked to pay by direct debit for orders in Germany, for example, but are then not allowed to use their account in the Netherlands or Austria.

In 9 out of 30 controlled insurance companies it was found "that the requirements of the European Sepa regulation were not complied with". The competition guardians warned the companies - with success: In 5 cases, the insurance companies changed their modalities and, according to the information, issued declarations of cease and desist, in all other cases this was announced accordingly.

The IBAN ("International Bank Account Number") is intended to standardize and accelerate transfers, direct debits and card payments across borders. The Sepa area includes 34 countries. In Germany the IBAN has 22 positions. Since August 1, 2014, the format for transfers and direct debits in euros has been mandatory for companies and associations; consumers have had to use the IBAN since February 1, 2016.

Communication of the competition headquarters

Sepa Complaints Office

EU Commission: Questions and answers about Sepa

IBAN calculator for the savings banks