Why is my payment blocked?

At TSB, we do everything we can to ensure that you can contact us if there is a problem. Our phone numbers are easy to find in our contact us section. Our contact numbers are also mobile friendly 0345 numbers or 0800 freephone numbers. You can bank with us online or through mobile banking whenever, wherever you are as long as you have an internet connection. But we see a few common issues which are easily avoidable - blocked payments is one of them.

There are hundreds of parameters that must be reviewed on every transaction so it's impossible to detail an exhaustive list of reasons why your payment may be blocked. Bear in mind that every check your bank makes is made to keep your money safe, and while we won't get it right 100% of the time, it's in our interest to ensure the highest level of security checks around your payments. While you'll have to call us if your payment is blocked, some of these tips might be things you hadn't considered before and could help avoid blocked payment issues in the future.

Out of character transactions

Out of character transactions are not simply transactions made while abroad without notice. Out of character transactions could be transactions with merchants in different parts of the world, which can happen with online shopping. Many online payment services originate in a different country than the online shop - depending on the company used by the merchant to process your payment - so it could appear as though your card has been used in the UK and US within a couple of hours which the bank may flag as out of character - and impossible!


This is the most common reason for blocking your payment, and it's rooted in the issues above. Your bank assumes that you cannot be in your home country and in another country at the same time or within a certain time window. Many of the detection algorithms used now will be smart enough to pick up that you paid for items on the way to a local airport, at the airport and after an appropriate flight time you make a payment in a foreign country. Then again, systems don't always get it right. Many banks will now text you to question a transaction you've made abroad, giving you flexibility to travel without stoppages and costly calls home to resolve. You may have to make the transaction again as a queried payment will likely be stopped until you have authorised it, however the best way to avoid payment issues when abroad is to alert your bank before you travel.

Using a merchant whose payment services originate in a different country

Are you on a cruise? Withdrawing money at the on-board ATM will show as originating wherever the ATM originated so withdrawing cash on-board may appear as Southampton and your next transaction, once you disembark will show as the country you're using the card in. So one charge in Southampton and a short period later in Norway or Dublin, for example, may show as a fraudulent transaction to your bank.

Small then large payments

When a criminal gains access to your account, often they charge a small amount as a tester payment in the hope that it will come out of your account without you noticing. This serves as an authority to the bank that this is an approved transaction as you have not disputed it. A fraudster may then make a larger purchase. This sort of behaviour in your own spending - a chocolate bar or a small online purchase, for example, then a train ticket would all have very different values. The bank algorithm will only detect the retailer not the item so while the purchase may seem obviously genuine to you, it can resemble a fraudster's pattern, be flagged as fraud and prompt a block, especially if it's a new high street or online retailer for you.

Making several purchases quickly

Are you an impulse shopper? Or going out with a list of items that you need from several stores? Your efficiency could cost you as the bank may recognise this as a spending spree on a stolen or cloned card. Speed is of the essence when it comes to stolen cards so the bank must react quickly. With the introduction of contactless, detection techniques and software are becoming ever more sophisticated but there will always be fraudsters.

Most banks, including TSB, offer a 24/7 hotline for reporting lost or stolen cards and for reporting fraudulent activity on your account and if you have a genuine payment which is stopped, you can contact your bank to have that block lifted quickly. You should avoid making another payment until you've resolved the original blocked payment as the block will remain until the bank are able to verify the payment with the account holder.

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