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PSR super-complaint one year on: what’s happening now?

banking scams

It’s been a year since we called on the payment systems regulator and industry to better protect consumers from bank transfer scams. That makes it our anniversary! Or, scammiversary, if you will…

Like all anniversaries, you hope the other side hasn’t forgotten, and the PSR didn’t disappoint. To coincide with this 12-month landmark, it has announced that it intends to publish an update in November. In it, they will outline what has happened since they responded to our super-complaint and set the industry the task of doing more to protect consumers.

While it’s encouraging to see banks and regulators treating this issue as a priority, people have continued to remain at risk from bank transfer fraud with many of you sharing your stories where you’ve lost life-changing sums of money to scammers.

That’s why we’ve told the PSR it must now clearly set out what progress has been made by banks, and what more industry should be doing to ensure those who are tricked into making a payment to a fraudster are not left out of pocket.

More support is needed

In particular, we want to see progress on a number of measures including robust guidelines for financial institutions to support victims of scams and the adoption of a best practice approach across the industry. Banks also need to demonstrate how they will enhance data sharing to improve their response to bank transfer scams.

We also want to see an update on when the industry will introduce measures such as Confirmation of Payee, which would help cut down the number of victims who lose money when they are tricked into sending money to someone they aren’t expecting to. And while all of this should some scams from happening, we still need to see proposals to ensure people are not left worse off, financially, when they fall victim.

While we are waiting to hear more from the regulator, we also know there is more banks can be doing themselves. In April this year, we asked you to tell us about things you’ve seen banks doing differently since we raised this issue with them. And earlier this summer, we wrote to the banks asking them to set out what additional steps, beyond what the PSR has asked them to do, they have put in place to protect you.

Fraud awareness campaigns

One of the areas that has seen the most attention by banks is around awareness campaigns for consumers, while also improving education and training for staff to help spot scams and give advice to those who may be at risk. A number of banks have invested in TV advertising, such as Barclays. The below video asks people to think twice if they get an email out of the blue from a loved one asking for an urgent transfer of money.

While these campaigns play an important role, focusing on them alone isn’t enough and places too much emphasis on the consumer to spot and protect themselves from increasingly sophisticated scams.

Another area that came through in their response was the alert systems a number of them have in place to warn you about the risks when you are about to make a transaction. A number of them, for example, now give staff a list of things to check when customers want to make a transfer in a branch. Some of you, like Tim, who is a customer of Santander, have told us you’ve seen warning messages to pop up before you make a transfer online, such as this one seen by Nationwide customers.

Nationwide warning

Payment monitoring systems

We also know the banks do a range of things behind the scenes to monitor payments, both when you are making them and when they are coming into accounts. This intention of this monitoring is to spot suspicious activity and close down any payments set up by scammers before you can send them your money.

Finally, when things do go wrong it’s important that you can contact your bank anytime, day or night. Scams happen 24/7 so the sooner banks are alerted and can contact where the money has been sent, the better the chance they have at stopping that money from being moved on. It’s good to see some banks already offering this to their customers.

Ultimately, while we recognise that our super-complaint has led to some positive steps, there is still more industry can be doing to protect us. That’s why we’ll be keeping an eye on the update from the PSR to make sure industry is delivering.

In the meantime, tell us, do you think banks are doing enough? Do you have any ideas for how your bank can help prevent scams?


It seems to me that one very useful thing the banks could do would be to ensure that the account name and account number match. At present you need only sort code and account number to send funds. If you put a digit wrong in either or a fraudster asks you to send funds you cannot double check that the name of the person or company you are sending money to is correct. If a fraudster opens an account in the name of J Bloggs and then send you the sort code and account saying it is the number of say your solicitor you send the money entering the fraudsters account. if the bank required you to confirm the name and it came back J Bloggs you would know to abort the transaction. This is something banks should be doing now not in ten years time.

The Payments Systems Regulator is tackling this and may have it resolved it to be introduced in 2018. It is not the simple problem it might seem. One proposal is that you arrange to make a payment using the sort code and account number, and the bank then sends you the name of the corresponding account. You then confirm or cancel the payment.

Following our super-complaint we’re already starting to see some changes. Barclays have just announce their new system to help prevent bank transfer scam https://www.which.co.uk/news/2017/10/barclays-to-intervene-in-suspected-fraud-transfers/

For anyone who may not have seen yet, we’ve just had some big news following this campaign: https://conversation.which.co.uk/money/psr-reimbursement-scheme-for-bank-transfer-scam-victims/