A new report from Which? has revealed that fewer than half (46%) of fraud victims who’ve unknowingly transferred money into scammers’ bank accounts are being reimbursed. The consumer watchdog is subsequently calling for strengthened standards to be put in place by banks to make the process fairer and more consistent. These scams, which affect thousands of customers each year, occur when a fraudster tricks the customer into transferring their money into another account in the belief that it is legitimate – for example to pay off an outstanding bill or for security reasons.
In 2019, a voluntary code of conduct was introduced by high street banks. The code was designed to offer increased protection from scams, especially for vulnerable customers, by ensuring banks paid people back in the event of fraud. But, more than two years on, this type of fraud is still affecting honest Britons and personal finance experts at money.co.uk are urging people to remain on the high alert against criminals. James Andrews, senior personal finance editor at money.co.uk, said: “Changes aimed at getting more people their money back are always welcome, but it’s still essential people know how to spot a scam when they see one, and how to protect themselves against it. There’s a real danger that announcements about new fraud rules or protections put in place by banks will see people relax and assume they are safe. Sadly, criminals are smart and all too often adapt to new rules and protocols almost as fast as they are unveiled. If a criminal can convince you to log in legitimately then get you to transfer money to a ‘safe’ account, or even withdraw it as cash, there is no technological solution that can prevent it”.
The good news is that banks are doing more to help, from ‘confirmation of payee’ – which puts extra blockers up against people impersonating others when asking people to transfer money – to warnings flashing up on screen all the way through to training for staff in branches and on the phone to help customers stay safer. Criminals often try to apply psychological pressure to get people to push past these barriers – posing as officials and telling customers they have already been scammed, are being targeted or even the subject of a criminal investigation from the police or HMRC. To stay safe, it’s essential you put in your own barriers too. If you get a call or message from someone saying they are from your bank or the police, get them to tell you their name, then call back – ideally from a different phone line – using the number you have on your bank statement or from another official, offline source. If it’s real, you will quickly be put through to the right person.
If you’re still unsure of the steps to take following an instance of fraud, check out money.co.uk’s handy guide on what to do if you’ve been scammed