Cancelling Direct Debits with N26

I wanted to cancel a Direct Debit from my N26 account, and couldn’t find any reference to it in the app, so I contacted customer care.

Here’s the process they explained to me to cancel a Direct Debit:

  1. Download the form https://docs.n26.com/cs/N26DirectDebitBlockEN.pdf form their site, and fill in the details the Creditor ID or Merchant Reference
  2. Ensure the form has your physical handwritten signature on it
  3. Scan the form, and email to support(Replace this with the @ sign)n26.com
  4. N26 will then cancel the Direct Debit for you

There’s no help within the app or website that tells you the Creditor ID or Merchant Reference for an existing Direct Debit. Neither of these values are listed against a transaction, so you need to find them elsewhere.

I checked the website of the company that I was paying my Direct Debit to, and their Creditor ID was listed – so I was able to the get the value fairly easily.

The Creditor ID is a unique reference that identifies an organisation collecting payments through a  SEPA Direct Debit, and is usually issued by the organisation’s bank. It reads a bit like an IBAN, but may be shorter, with a mixture of letters and numbers. The Direct Debit Mandate form – whether electronic or paper – should show the Creditor ID on it.

Here’s an extract from the Bank of Ireland SEPA Direct Debit Creditor’s Guide that explains the Creditor ID format:

I’m not sure how you find out the Merchant Reference! If you find out, let me know!

Reversing Direct Debits already paid

If you want to initiate a refund on a Direct Debit that has already been paid, you can do this from within the mobile app:

  1. Tap on the Direct Debit transaction to view the details
  2. Scroll to the bottom and select the option “Initiate refund”
  3. Send the request

N26 state that the money will be returned to your account within 2 banking days.

Screenshot of N26 app, with “Initiate refund” option highlighted

Non-Irish banks and eir

I was on the phone earlier to the telecoms operator eir to change something related to do with my mobile phone contract, and for some reason they requested that I give them my payment details again.

I gave them my details – both the 16 digit number from my debit card and the IBAN for my account – but their system wouldn’t accept either. The problem? They’re for an account run by the German-based mobile bank N26.

eir don’t seem able to accept payment instructions over the phone from non-Irish banks. Instead their direct debit instructions indicate that you have fill in a paper-based mandate form and either post it or fax it (but not email – they don’t accept email) to their office in Clonakilty in Co. Cork.

The Single European Payment Area (SEPA) regulations that came in around 10 years ago are meant to allow customers to make cashless payment in Euros to anyone located in any of the Eurozone counties. So, you should be able to receive your salary into any Eurozone bank account, and may payments to any company around Europe using your IBAN.

It’s entirely possible for business to accept verbal instructions for SEPA direct debits over the telephone and electronically, but for some reason eir doesn’t support this.

To resolve the matter today my customer care agent suggested that I get a friend to volunteer the use of their Irish bank card to set up payment on my account, and then arrange to switch over to my German bank over the next few days.

I asked whether he could guarantee that my friend would not be inadvertently charged for my mobile service, and he said yes. I then asked, if that was the case, whether the agent himself would be willing to use his own personal bank card to set me up. Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t keen!

Disputing fraudulent transactions with N26 bank

I had the unfortunate experience in the last few days of my N26 card being cloned, and a whole bunch of fraudulent transactions cleared out my balance.

The first I realised that something was wrong was a series of transaction notifications late on Saturday night. And when I checked the N26 app on my phone I saw loads of fraudulent transactions.

This has happened in the past with a credit card from a traditional bank, and I’ve simply called the 24 hour phone number of the bank, and queried the transactions over the phone. But N26 don’t have a 24 hour support number, and it seems the process to get this sorted with them is a bit more complicated.

Blocking the card

The first thing I did when I saw the fraudulent transactions was to disable my card in the mobile app. You can do this from the Cards settings. I turned off all the options, and locked the card.

I then used the app to order a new card. My existing card number is compromised, so there’s no point trying to use it again. Unfortunately it’ll take a few days to get a new card – because I can’t avail of the expedited service available to German residents.

I guess I’ll also have to use cash until my new card arrives. I’ve gotten used to paying for pretty-much everything using contactless payments recently, so it’s going to be strange going back to coins and notes.

Disputing the transactions

I tried calling the N26 support number on their website as soon as I saw the dodgy transactions, but they don’t open 24 hours a day so I got a recorded office-closed message.

The contact page has local phone numbers for each country. The one for Ireland is a VoIP number, and isn’t included in the free minutes on my mobile plan.

N26 support advised me that I needed to fill in a Disputed Transactions Form for each of fraudulent transactions, scan the pages, and then email to support(Replace this with the @ sign)n26.com

I have 6 fraudulent transactions, so that’s six 4-page forms that I need to fill in and send off.

And you need to wait until the transactions are confirmed before submitting the forms. In the app, if you see a blue dot on the icon beside the transaction then it’s still pending. It’s only when the blue dot disappears that it’s confirmed – and this might take 3-4 days to happen.

On the N26 Online Banking portal, you need to check the Statements sections for the current month. Only when they appear on the statement will they be confirmed.

The disputed transaction form also needs to show the date of the transaction on this Statement. I filled in the forms with the date/time from the mobile app – the date/time the fraudster actually made the transaction – and I had all my claims rejected. So I need to re-submit all my forms again!

Then I need to wait for N26 to query the transaction with Mastercard, and hopefully initiate charge-backs to recover the funds, which might take a while. Until then I don’t have access to my money.

Resultant problems

While I wait for my new card, I can’t spend anything – which is fine, because the fraudsters took all my money. I can’t top up my phone, or order anything online, because I don’t have a card.

Also there are two direct debits on my account have been rejected as unpaid, because I don’t have sufficient funds – and I’m also going to be charged bank fees for those failed direct debits!

So all-in-all I’m not particularly happy about the situation, and it’s making me reconsider whether I want to continue using N26 for my banking. I can’t help but think that other banks would deal with this a lot better.

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