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Whats a Head Office Collections Account (HOCA)?
HOCA stands for Head Office Collections Account.
HOCAs are used by businesses to collect funds (typically large FI's/Utilities etc) from clients – they only have one account on them, any payment to another account number would be returned. PT-X Verify (or any other UK Bank Validation product) does VALIDATE the Sort Code / Account Number pairing as it does not fall into a range of sort codes where published mod rules are applied; however the branch exists in the EISCD so any account number on the branch must be assumed valid. In practice, you can tell this is a Head Office Collections Account (HOCA) because of the branch name – and that the account number is 00000000.
The selection of the ‘00000000’ account number is very specific because of the DDI rules – this is to prevent anyone ever trying to set up a DD on a HOCA (which is never allowed).
We have been made aware of such inputs have been made; either the end client has mistakenly given these details (typically by reading from a Giro slip on a bill) or they are trying to be smart / fraudulent.
When you see … to pay via internet banking – payments should be made to the [BANK NAME] Head Office Collection Account; Sort Code XX-YY-ZZ, Account Number 00000000 for example, this is an example of how HOCAs are used.
To further illustrate the point, one such HOCA account referenced on the Internet in relation to Rent Payments was found stipulating that ‘… payments must include your 12-digit tenancy account number as a reference …’ as a means of differentiating who is making payments into that account, however both DD & DDIs were blocked on that account preventing anyone from fraudulently setting up a Direct Debit on that account.