Royal Bank of Scotland’s CEO has said that customers need to take more responsibility if they are conned by online scammers. We think there’s a lot more they should be doing to protect you from sophisticated scammers.
The Chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland has reportedly warned victims of bank fraud not to automatically expect refunds.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Ross McEwan has suggested it was not wholly the responsibility of banks if customers provide their account details to fraudsters.
He told the paper: “We are working very hard to help customers detect when there are difficulties, but I think this has to be in partnership with the customer and with the bank.”
Of course, there will be times when people could have taken reasonable steps to protect themselves, or have acted with gross negligence, and need to accept responsibility for that. There is a role here for educating people to protect themselves from some of the risks, but it can’t be a blanket approach or the only measure to address the problem.
We wrote to the banks earlier this year to ask them what progress they’d made. The overwhelming response from industry was that focus remains on educating consumers to better protect themselves.
The industry is being required to do more, and banks are looking at best practice for responding to victims and how to better share information. In the meantime, we’re still hearing from people who’ve lost huge sums money to scams that have been incredibly difficult to spot.
‘I fell victim to a telephone banking scam in which I transferred £20,000, unknowingly to a fraudsters’ account. Within 20 mins of realising what I had done I alerted RBS, who assured me an immediate stop would be put on the transfer. I later learned when speaking to my bank manager that no such stop had been put on the transfer and indeed nothing had been done until some six days later, by which time any hope of retrieving our money had long since gone.’
Probably the most stressful experience of my life, so far, was the day I finally transferred my deposit to my solicitor in order to buy my first home. I’d always known I wanted the security of my own house (OK, flat – it is London after all) so had saved hard for years, often living in rubbish places to keep the rent down so I could build up a deposit. I’d just managed to get enough to be able to afford a small flat outside London weeks before prices shifted up again, putting everything out of reach.
At the time I was paranoid I was going to send it to the wrong account, but it never crossed my mind that someone could have hacked into my solicitor’s emails and sent me the account details of a fraudulent account instead.
Thankfully that hadn’t happened and nearly two years on I’m happy in my little flat, despite a DIY to-do list as long as my arm. But for many people that dream of a new home turns into a nightmare when they realise the account they’ve just transferred their life savings to doesn’t belong to their solicitor, but to a fraudster – and they have no legal right to get their money back from the bank.
Impersonating a solicitor to con you out of a house deposit isn’t the only scam that tricks people into transferring money to a fraudster. That’s why, last year, we issued launched our scams campaign and issued a super-complaint to the Payments Systems Regulator (PSR), who agreed there was a lot more banks should be doing to protect their customers.
This is not just about refunding consumers when things go wrong. There are things banks can be doing to prevent the customer losing money in the first place, such as bringing forward the introduction of ‘Confirmation of Payee’ that checks the name of the account holder where you were sending money to ensure it matched.
The PSR is due to report back in the coming months on what progress banks have been making to better protect people since the start of the year. As our CEO Peter Vicary-Smith said earlier this summer, this is an opportunity for banks to step up and address this problem themselves. This doesn’t have to be a chore for industry, banks could even see it as an opportunity to compete to be the best on handling this issue for its customers.
But if they fail to take this issue seriously they are leaving the regulator with little option but to intervene. We would expect the regulator to take strong action to protect consumers from this continued risk.
Do you think it’s right that banks are putting all the responsibility on you to spot when you are being scammed?