/ Money

Scam protection: FCA proposals will boost complaining power

The FCA has announced proposals to give victims of bank transfer scams more scope to make a complaint, and increase the powers of the Financial Ombudsman Service.

We’ve been campaigning for better protection since launching our super-complaint in September 2016. Under current regulations, you have no right to complain to the bank that received your funds if you think it hasn’t taken sufficient action, but this will soon change.

The proposed changes will also allow victims to escalate complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service, so this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.

Sophisticated fraudsters

Victims of this type of money transfer scam have told us that it can be a real struggle to get their complaints heard and to find out what has happened to their missing cash.

This is extremely distressing for people who have often lost life-changing sums to these increasingly sophisticated fraudsters.

We welcome the FCA’s announcement that gives victims new rights to ensure that the recipient banks and building societies are fully engaged in the complaints process and gives them the right to take their case to the Financial Ombudsman if they feel they have been treated unfairly.

Improving protection

In response to our 2016 super-complaint, the PSR set out an action plan to encourage great co-operation between banks, introduce anti-fraud measures and give victims more power to recover their funds. It also announced a contingent reimbursement scheme.

A ‘confirmation of payee’ tool is also due to be rolled out later this year, which will require banks to check the name provided on the transfer against its account records. If it doesn’t match, the customer will be alerted.

These developments and today’s proposals are welcome steps forward as we continue to call for the government, regulators and businesses to do as much as possible to safeguard us all from scams.

We don’t want to see banks getting let off the hook and scammers getting away with fraud. Agree? You can sign our campaign here.


I really think that banks should check the details of new accounts that payments are made into. The fraudsters are very clever though. I get an alert if I am paying a new person. This would alert me unless the new account were to be set up in the name of the person I really need to pay. I always ask the person I am paying for the first time to confirm that they have the money but that would not be any use if the confirmation was not received quickly.

I received bogus emails from scammers pretending to be from Santander Bank, despite the fact I do not have an account with them. I sent them the fraudulent emails wanting to know how it is that scammers can take money from one account, put it into another account and the bank cannot even trace where it is? There are CCTV cameras in Banks, People have to produce ID to set up an account. Money goes from Account A to Account B and the banks cannot find out where a persons money has gone? I find all of this unbelievable. Santander Bank were useless to reply to me, so I went into one of their branches to ask these questions and they did not know? I cannot get my head around how they steal money, do not get caught, they cannot trace where an email came from, or who sent it. It is ridiculous. I have come to the conclusion that these banks do not careless about their customers, or they turn a blind eye to it. I cannot think of any other reason. So yes I do think it is time the banks were made to pay back their customers, because they are the custodians of customers monies, and if they cannot find out who the scammers are, then they need to do something about it.

David McWilliam says:
6 July 2018

banks should spot unusual activity in an account

They probably do, and if it corresponds with their customer’s instructions they take no further action. What would you suggest they look for, and what action should they take if they spot it?

I suppose people are assuming the banks will do this for nothing.

Why don’t banks just make a rule that once money is transferred into a different account it has to stay there for 24 hrs before it can be moved again.

Why don’t banks with one single motion that will allow customers to retrieve their money just make a simple rule change. Once money has been transferred to another account it has to stay there for 24 hours before it can be moved again. This gives enough time once a scam is discovered to retrieve the money.

Once money is transferred it must remain in the receiving account for 24 hrs before being transferred again. This would allow money to be retrieved if a scam is found out early.

It’s a very simple matter for the Bank’s to stop the fraud. anyone who has ever worked in a Bank would (should) know this. Many years ago when Exchange Control Regulations were in force will have seen such things in action.
In simple terms now If a Bank receives an email request (as opposed to visiting a branch) then they should communicate with their customer to establish why the funds are to be transmitted and then allocate a Reference number to the transaction if it is to go ahead.
The Bank will of course need to be satisfied that it is their customer they are dealing with; similarly, the customer has to be 100% sure it is Bank Staff they are communicating with. This is easily done but just needs the Bank to set up the system.
I put this suggestion to the BBC programme “Working Lunch” a few ago and Simon Gompetz told viewers about it.

I was not aware that a bank would respond to an email request for such business. Mine will do so for ordinary conversation, but certainly not for secure information; there is a messaging service once you log in to handle that, in both directions.

I banked with Barclays for 40 odd years and they were forever offering me umbrellas when the sun was shining but at the first sign of rain snatched them back, they even had the brass neck to try to claim the same debt twice!

Banks should have an individual tailored procedure with each customer prompted to safeguard their account without forcing unnecessary, for that customer, restrictions.

Of course they should. I guess about £50 a year might be a starting price.

Not enough is being done by the banks to stop scamming and on line frauding once a customer has told. them of concerns that they think they have been targeted. the banks do not seem to take these concerns seriously..

My daughter was asked by her builders to transfer £4000 into their account for them as payment for their work. They emailed her the account number and she did a bank transfer. They didn’t receive it – somehow the account number had been changed. Barclays where the money went said they couldn’t look into the account it had gone into as it was against the account holders rights! My daughters bank tried to help and get the information but it was a no go – I had to find the money to pay the builders – meanwhile someone somewhere is 4grand better off for nothing!!

Keturah – this is theft. I trust you reported it to the police? Swift action is needed or the trail may go cold.

It might be worth reporting the incident to Action Fraud too: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud

Bill says:
6 July 2018

The should at the very least ensure both the name and the account details correlate before passing the monies onwards, should there be any deviation from either than the sender should be informed and no monies transferred or moved

That will happen.

I was scammed this week for £40. The bank texted me to ask if the transaction was correct.
I reported it as a fraud and they refunded the money the next day. They closed down my on line banking system and cancelled my debit card. It is going to take at least a week to get things back to normal again. Its like setting up a new account.These scammers need to be jailed for a very long time becuase of the hasstle they cause.

Nik says:
7 July 2018

If the Bank ALWAYS contacted the customer for confirmation of any transaction over a pre-agreed amount, a lot of fraudulent actions could be stopped.
Similarly, if customers also ALWAYS took the simple action of checking with the person the payment is supposed to be sent to, to ensure that the bank details are correct, that would also go a long way to prevent losses.
Its Common sense really.

Why should the bank contact their customer? Wouldn’t it be better if the customer informed their bank of when they were about to make an extraordinary transfer.

I agree John. It is most important that the customer is aware of the various fraudulent honeytraps they need to avoid, but I for one would not welcome out-of-the-blue intervention of all transactions over XYZ.

Having said that, I have been grateful in the past of contact from credit card fraud department when a high and unusual spend pattern was occurring on my card (which indeed was fraud in which I had played no part at all).

The more we rely on “someone else” to protect us, and the more we then come to rely on there being that protection, the less self-reliant we become and that’s when scammers can hit us – we have made ourselves more vulnerable. Scammer will always stay one step ahead of the “enforcers”; they can see protective measures put in place and design ways around them, or move their scamming into a different area. We need to take responsibility for our actions, learn to recognise the pitfalls out there, and act accordingly.

This does not mean, before I am jumped on, that organisations should not provide proper protection; of course they should. Just that we should not assume someone is always there to pick up the pieces emanating from a mistake we might have made, wittingly or otherwise.

My son who is on the autistic spectrum was defrauded of approximately £10,000. He was tricked into giving his bank details and using the card reader because the person speaking to him dealt with in almost exactly the same way the bank dealt with him when someone had used his account fraudulently. Despite us explaining the Bank what had happened to him previously which is why he gave his details the Bank didn’t want to know. Furthermore, we were convinced someone from the Bank was involved because his money went to HSBC and Barclays accounts in Birmingham. The police officer investigating what happened was upset when a member of staff from one of the banks said, ‘if he is autistic why does he have a bank account’. All in all we were completely unimpressed with the banks and the banking ombudsman.

When banks ring you, they should have a method of proving that they are who they say they are – something simple like telling you about the first and last letters in your password or maybe a recent direct debit, anything that only someone who already has full access to your account can know. I got a call from someone in the bank who wouldn’t do this, and when they asked for me to prove who I was I refused – and then they had the cheek to block my account!! Needless to say I was furious, but it was quickly corrected when I rang them direct! If they used a system like I suggest, and if we all learn to expect it, that could put a stop to all the scam calls!

Ann C Greenfield says:
9 July 2018

Banks make such vast profits from there customers, they should and could look after them a little better. Some banks/building societies have a far better outlook for caring for the customer. It seems that some large banks just forget they only exist because of the customer, they should be nicer to us.

when a bank has to deal with a reported fraud and stops your account from being further “robbed” by the digital thief, then at the end of the trace for the the “thief” we the customer should know who the “thief” is. Currently the bank hides behind data protection and does not disclose to the trusting customer for fear of loss of confidence in banking. How very cosy for pin-striped bungling and economy wrecking group of establishment people .Little wonder there is no trust of our “betters” in this country any more. the finance industry is too close to politics and can please itself what it does with no fear of fines or harm to reputation.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

John Hearn says:
15 July 2018

Their systems, their responsibility.
Responsibility, a word honored these days.

Tim says:
21 July 2018

I have taken matters into my own hands. Prior to paying by Internet Banking Into an account I haven’t used before, I send a ‘test’ , unspecified, damount. Once the recepient confirms its receipt and amount I proceed with transfer of the full amount. This method proves that all parties have correctly set up the accounts in their systems.

That account then stays on your list of payees in the tested form for future use. This is something many have been recommending for a long time. I would like to see the recommendation appear on all bank’s payment screens to remind users before they transfer funds.