/ 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?

Mr Inman says:
11 August 2017

I’ll have to admit to feeling a bit misled by the email I got from Which? about this. The impression I had was that this was referring to investment by the banks: banks (especially RBS) are guilty of some thoroughly reckless decisions on this, so I voted that money invested by the banks should be entirely the responsibility of the banks.

What I didn’t realise was this was to do with security of customers’ personal accounts. If the entire responsibility for the security of these lies with the banks, then it becomes more likely legitimate account holders would be prevented from accessing their accounts through prohibitive security measures. Protecting customers from scams requires a bit of work from both banks and themselves, I think.


Wait until Open Data regulation take effect – then we’ll all be in trouble!

Nicholas Evans says:
11 August 2017

I am 72 years old. As time goes on the odds are that I shall become more susceptible to scams not less. For this reason I have resisted the many attempts by my bank. ironically NatWest, to encourage me to use its on-line system to make payments. Instead I have made payments in batches by going in person to my local branch. They have now closed this local branch (in a town, not a village, and one which even houses the local authority for the County!). So far it is the only one of the major banks to do so but, given the continuing mindset of our banks, (RBS historically, in my opinion, having been the worst), to focus on money for its shareholders and directors ahead of service for its customers, and to follow each other like sheep, I fully expect others to follow and for RBS to praise itself for being the first, rather than apologise. I believe that the banks have a duty to protect the money we deposit with them and to take responsibility for any defect in their systems which fails to give, and to continue to give, this protection.


Nicholas NatWest is part of RBS I should know I very recently had dealings where I was dealt with by NatWest employees working for RBS who were able to help me . RBS is owned by HMG (73 %) but is likely to sell-off its shares at a tremendous loss ( whats new ? same old sell at a loss to attract -well what are Yuppies called nowadays ? ) Who loses out – one guess ?? — why you the British public. It doesn’t take a City accountant to work out who will buy the shares – goodbye UK owned -hello America owned . Whats left to sell off ?? why our souls to Beelzebub but then they aren’t worth the birth certificate they are printed on.

Dawn says:
11 August 2017

Correct me if I am wrong is it not the royal bank of scotland who lost so much money and had to be bailed out by our government. They are a disgrace and both them and Nat West should be made more responsible and take control instead of passing the buck to their customers who do their best not to be scammed. It is also laughable that this bank who still owes the taxpayer for the bail out and are still working at a loss talk about the oot calling the kettle black.

John T Temple says:
12 August 2017

If I take responsibility for looking after someone’s precious children or goods I automatically become it’s guardian,
That means I take full responsibility,
And that means not just the good bits of the responsibility,
They have our money and they make a lot of money by using our money for there gain,
If they want the good bits of money holding then they must take the bad bits as well


But, John, supposing the parents of the children in your care ask you to take them to a party, give you the wrong address, and that is inhabited by not nice people that you do not realise at the time. Who is responsible – you? Or the parents?i

june says:
12 August 2017

Having been the victim of scammed. I can assure you that these people are extremely clever and convincing. I am by no means stupid but I fell victim to these terrible people who preyed on my good nature and my honesty. They manipulated and abused me emotionally to the extent that I feel unsafe everywhere.