/ Money

Been scammed? It’s all on you!

Bank fraud

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.

Agnes said:
‘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.’

Scam paranoia

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.

Do you feel educated enough so as to not fall victim to a scam?

No (64%, 4,148 Votes)

Yes (36%, 2,351 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,499

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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.

PSR report

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?

Martin Hampton says:
11 August 2017

I disagree with your response to my vote. In the example of Stuart and Angie, how is the bank responsible? There is no way that they can be held liable for the hack that occurred to the contractor, allowing the scammer to fake the invoice details. I agree that it is a sad state of affairs that we have come to this but it is now necessary to verify such requests before making a payment. This happens in my work (Civil Service). W get email requests to change supplier bank details – scammers trying to catch us out and get some of the money that is due to a company. Having been caught out a few times, we have rigid procedures to verify such requests

chrispb says:
11 August 2017

“Having been caught out a few times” is the important phrase.
Individuals don’t get chance to build up experience; they simply get done!

John rigby says:
12 August 2017

It’s time that all banks encourage a social responsibility attitude. They are in a privilege trading position.What’s a loss of a few thousand to a CEO who is paid by the millions?

Chief says:
16 August 2017

You should not have ‘been caught out a few times’ – the risk should have been identified and mitigated by additional checks anyway! Banks must do more to make scams impossible – and earn our trust to protect their customers and our money more effectively.

Jan Torch says:
4 October 2017

I couldn’t agree more, I would only add ” one at a time!”.

This CEO needs to get off of his high horse – it is seriously bad when not just his customers but the whole of the tax paying population is subsidising keeping his bank going!

Michael Osborne says:
11 August 2017

By shutting down banks, you are forcing your customer’s to be even more reliant upon internet banking. Wake up to your responsibility RBS and sort yourself out first.

Alison Wunderland says:
11 August 2017

Which, you talk about bank scams but really you are talking about scammers using bank details. Some banks have procedures in place to alert them to scams, when they miss these scams they ought to refund the money to the victim because banks have enormous resources to which the citizen has no access.. My own quarrel with NatWest which started back in 1984 when they “lost” a cash transfer payment for an export order. This cost me my company, and I was later to discover that direct transfers from the Bank of England to my private account had been “lost”. I was finally to close my accounts with the bank, I left a £36k overdraft with the bank. After 30 years and many threats from them and their lawyers, they decided to drop the claim for repayment of the overdraft. I have attempted to get compensation for 30 years of harassment on an amicable basis, so far no joy. I have evidence of false statements in affidavits and falsifying documents. The police investigated after my MP sent details after 18 months the bank drew up a bank statement showing some of the smaller amounts repaid. To the police, that ended the investigation.

Carole says:
11 August 2017

I have been subject to credit card fraud and luckily this was discovered by my credit card company because I didn’t check my statements regularly when I knew I hadn’t used the card myself and trusted all was fine. I now check ALL my statements. Someone somewhere got a great vacation out of my account, but the credit card company were great and refunded all fraudulent amounts,