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We need to talk about bank transfer scams

Bank transfer

It’s now 42 days since we made our super-complaint to the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) calling for banks to better protect customers who are tricked into transferring money to a fraudster – and we need your help.

Bank transfers have increased dramatically in the UK over the past decade, with more than 70 million made in a month, compared with just over 100 million in a whole year 10 years ago.

When Which? surveyed 2089 people, we found that one in ten had either made a bank transfer to a fraudster’s account or know someone who has. But statistics won’t be enough to prove action is needed.

Bank transfer scams

Bank protection systems haven’t kept pace and fraudsters are increasingly taking advantage with ever more sophisticated scams designed to con unwitting victims out of often large sums of cash. If we’re going to prove to the regulator that this problem is rife, we need more hard evidence.

Some of you have already shared your bank transfer scam experience with us on Which? Conversation. One guest author anonymously recounted his tale of being conned out of £50,000 after a phone scammer convinced him to transfer money to a ‘safe account’.

D Morris told us a similar story about an elderly relative.

Then there are those who’ve lost money paying for things like holidays. Ian Stevens told us on Which? Conversation that he lost £2,500 transferring to a fraudster thinking he was settling up for a holiday house in Paris.

But if we’re going to succeed in convincing the regulator to take action, we need you to share more of your stories – and, seeing as it had 90 days to respond to us when we made the super-complaint in mid-September, we’ve only got another 48 days to prove that action is needed.

If you or someone you know has suffered from this type of scam then please report it to us here.

Bank transfer protections

The problem with bank transfers is that unlike direct debit, debit card or credit card fraud, if you do get scammed into transferring money via a bank transfer, you currently have no legal right to get your money back from the bank.

Often banks won’t refund you if you’ve appeared to ‘authorise’ the transaction, even if it was unknowingly to a fraudster’s account.

We think this is quite simply unfair and that’s why we made our super-complaint on 23 September. We want the PSR, working with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), to investigate and find out how much this type of fraud costs consumers.

We then want the regulators to take action and propose new measures and greater liability for banks to ensure consumers are better protected when they have been tricked into making a bank transfer.


Do you think action on bank transfer protections is needed? What else do you think needs to be done to protect people from scammers?

Comments
Member

I don’t recall Which? bringing us an update on the two new measures announced on 29 November 2016 that (a) will allow customers to double check they are paying the right person when making an on-line transfer payment [Confirmation of Payee], and (b) will ask customers to confirm the payment when money is taken from an account by a direct debit [Request to Pay].

The initial response to Which?’s super-complaint by the Payment Systems Regulator does not surprise me. A number of members were firmly opposed to unlimited liability on the part of banks but generally their arguments were ignored by Which?, although, presumably, considered by the Regulator. Personally I feel the Regulator has exercised common sense and if Which? is disgruntled then perhaps it should have been less sensationalist in its approach. Perhaps it should also not have been so easily seduced by the elaborate tale of a TV celebrity.