Strong Customer Authentication (SCA)


Read our guide below which provide you with useful information of what the new Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) is and how it can affect you as a customer.


What is Strong Customer Authentication?

From 14th September 2019 a new piece of legislation was introduced designed to keep your online purchases safe from fraud. Most online purchases you make will be verified by us sending a unique passcode to your mobile phone number. This is known as a ‘one-time’ passcode. The extra step is to confirm it is really you. The FCA have agreed a plan with the e-commerce industry of card issuers, payment firms and online retailers that provides retailers up to March 2021 to implement SCA.


Strong Customer Authentication is an extra security step that is being introduced to help further reduce fraud. With increasing amounts of purchases being made online, these new rules will provide the extra protections necessary to ensure that customers are safe when purchasing online and their money better protected.


What will Strong Customer Authentication mean for me?

Strong Customer Authentication will apply to you when you are making an online purchase. When buying items from online retailers, you may receive a text message from Vanquis containing a one-time passcode. You will then be prompted to enter this code on-screen before your payment will be taken.


You may not be asked to prove your identity in this way for every purchase or transaction.


What do I need to do?

Be ready for the changes by making sure your contact details are correct and up to date. If they are not you can call our friendly Customer Services team on 0333 099 3000* to update them.


See full telephone number and call charge information*


As always, remember to Take Five and stop to think. Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. They spend hours researching you for their scams, hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment.


Stop: Simply taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.


Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.


Protect: Contact Vanquis immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam that’s affected you and report it to Action Fraud.


My money? My info? I don’t think so!


I’ve not heard of this from anyone else. Where can I check this out?

If you go online and search for ‘Strong Customer Authentication’ you’ll find lots of articles about this new way of verifying who you are when shopping online, which ultimately will help reduce card fraud.

Is this just a way of you getting my mobile number to send me offers?

No. We won’t send you direct marketing if you’ve already asked us not to. You can change your marketing preferences at any time by calling our Customer Service team. You can also opt out of direct marketing emails and texts using the ‘unsubscribe’ and ‘stop’ features.

Will my Chip & PIN and contactless purchases be affected?

Your Chip & PIN purchases remain unchanged as it’s a trusted way to prove your identity. However, you may be asked to input your PIN more often when you make contactless purchases (with the exception of travel on the tube, bus or train).

Why is Strong Customer Authentication being introduced?

From the 14th September 2019 the EU’s revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) was introduced. The FCA have agreed a plan that provides card issuers, payment firms and online retailer longer to implement Strong Customer Authentication. PSD2 is part of UK law and as such implementation is not dependent on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. It has been introduced to help further reduce fraud.

Do these rules only apply to online purchases?

Whilst the biggest changes you’re likely to see are online, Strong Customer Authentication will also apply in a face to face environment. As Chip & PIN is a familiar way of proving your identity, for most purchases this won’t mean you have to do anything different. However, if you make contactless payments, Strong Customer Authentication may mean you have to input your PIN more often.


These rules don’t apply to travel, so your regular contactless payments for the bus, train or tube will be unaffected.

Why is it harder for me to shop online?

Strong Customer Authentication is being introduced to help further reduce fraud. With an increasing amount of purchases being made online, extra protections are necessary to ensure that customers are safer, and their money better protected.

Is every payment I make going to be affected?

Not all payments will be affected. Non-electronic payments, such as cash and cheques, are not in scope of these changes. All purchases made by telephone (for example, buying from a catalogue by calling the company and giving your details over the phone) are not in scope.


Automatic payments that you make regularly to the same provider (e.g. a subscription to online streaming platform) do not require Strong Customer Authentication. You may still be asked for additional identity checks when initially setting up these payments.


Low value payments (under £30), including those made on contactless cards, do not always require strong authentication. However, if you have made multiple payments within a short period of time, you may be asked to authenticate using your PIN.

Does it apply to my other cards?

Yes, if you have a debit/credit card you use online, you should ensure your contact details are up to date with your provider.

I have been asked to share my one-time passcode over the phone, what should I do?

Only input your one-time passcode onto the retailer’s website where you are completing your purchase. Never share this passcode with anyone and that includes Vanquis, even if you are given one of the following reasons:

  • A refund on your account is required
  • To secure your payment
  • To stop a payment