Fraudulent french bills?

I am in the process of moving house & have notified the services such as EDF, who have just sent me my first bill - telling me that the payment will be taken automatically from my bank account. Due to the fluidity of my account I pay everything by TIP & have NEVER authorised ANYONE to dip into my account willy nilly, so I checked with my bank & sure enough they are all set to make the automatic payment! Needless to say I have stopped that but I should not have to. How did EDF set this up & why did my bank allow it without my express consent, which is often asked for but never given? Who’s money is it anyway?

Maybe they should think of introducing the scheme they have in England when the lights or gas go out you trot off to the local shop on the corner and top up your credit, so if fact you pay in advance of what you consume. Not a bad idea! A bit of a nuisance but another way of looking at utility consumption

Have just set up a new EDF account for a non-French-speaking tenant, I had to have bank details to hand in order set up the account and get connected. I was asked if the tenant wanted to pay by monthly direct debit which was fine - they even asked what date would suit them best. However the direct debit won’t take effect for 3 months (no clue why) so the tenant has to pay by cheque until then. Was the OP asked by EDF about preferred payment methods?


As I have worked at a French bank I’ll explain how the direct debit system works in France.

You’ve got 2 kinds of direct debits:

  1. the TIP option, you have given EDF the authority to direct debit your account as a one-off payment by providing your RIB details as well as your signature.

  2. permanent direct debit. Again your provide your RIB details to the company (in this case EDF) and they systematically direct debit your account. The paper you sign and send to the bank is worthless to you, the bank wants it to protect themselves if you should ever claim that you never gave EDF authority to direct debit your account.

But the really interesting part is that no matter if your payment is a TIP or an ongoing direct debit the bank has registered that EDF takes money from your account under their “Numéro émetteur” - if you see on your statements there is a number preceding the EDF direct debit. Any direct debits presented with that number will automatically be paid out unless you put an “opposition de prelevement” on their number. But if you do so ANY AND ALL direct debits presented under this number will be blocked no matter TIP, direct debit, separate contract for a second home you have, direct debit for your kid’s place that you’re paying for. The bank CANNOT sort out your contracts, direct debits etc with the company.

Obviously what has happened is that EDF has put into place an ongoing direct debit on your account instead of waiting to be paid by TIP. Yes, theoretically the bank should hang on to your signed request but honestly there are countless direct debits being set up everyday and rather than have a customer whose electricity has been turned off because the direct debit that they’ve signed for has not been paid they allow all direct debits to go out unless the customer tells them otherwise.

If you want to avoid any hassles than I would recommend never giving out your RIB and always paying by cheque - but then again if your cheque goes lost in the mail that’s not good either.

It seems EDF can’t get it right because we have approved them to tke stuff by direct debit seberal occasions and they still don’t take the payment leaving us to pay by cheque

Yes, Catharine, but who? Somebody at EDF has actioned an “autorisation de prelevement automatique” that would be a copy of the one I hold, & also unsigned & undated certainly by me, & my bank has gone ahead & set it up either against a blank form or a forged signature.
Kind of makes a mockery of all the security banks supposedly have in place to protect clients!
Should I be talking to the gendarmes?

I have never heard of this happening before Mark? I suspect someone along the way has cocked up?

Is this not fraud? I have the direct debit mandate in my file, not filled in because that’s not how I wish to pay. The fact that I was sent the form implies that the account holder has to give his/her permission for this to be put in place. Has somebody at EDF forged my signature? I refuse to believe, Richard, that this is permitted even in the french system! If this IS allowed then it gives me the right to set up payments to myself from customers accounts even if that is not their preferred method of payment, & I don’t need their permission, just their bank details.