Our research has found that people are still losing life-changing sums of money to fraudsters exploiting bank transfer payments. So, how much longer should we wait for effective action from industry?
Last year, as part of our super-complaint to the Payment Systems Regulator, we collected evidence from nearly 600 victims of fraud who told us they’d collectively lost over £5.5m to bank transfer scams.
Five months on from the PSR’s response saying that they’d found evidence that banks could be doing more, we’ve been checking to see if anything has changed.
We’ve found that people are still exposed when it comes to bank transfer scams, with many losing significant sums of money.
Despite fraudsters continuing to exploit bank transfer scams, we’ve not seen enough evidence that banks are making progress to protect their customers.
Roger and his wife lost £2,000 to a scammer posing as their gardener:
And cases like Roger’s are far from unique. In fact, our latest research reveals that one in 10 people in the UK had made a bank transfer, or knew someone that had made a payment, that later turned out to be to a fraudster. And of those people who had lost money to bank transfer scams, more than half had been victims in the last six months.
Huge sums of money are being lost to these fraudsters, and we found that nearly four in 10 didn’t get any money back at all.
So, today we’ve written to banks calling for them to clearly outline what action they are taking to safeguard consumers from bank transfer scams.
When it comes to banking the general expectation is that banks will look after you as their customer and your money too. But with so many continuing to lose such large sums of money to fraudsters exploiting the system, it’s clear more needs to be done.
The industry, regulator and next government need to urgently take action to tackle financial fraud. We want the next government to set out an ambitious plan to ensure that financial institutions do more to protect consumers from bank transfer scams.
We need your help to do this – please share your scams experiences with us and help keep the pressure on to deliver this change.
Confirmation of Payee plans announced
Update, 11 December: The Payments Strategy Forum has outlined plans for a new payments system architecture in the UK.
One area that the Forum has been examining is ‘Confirmation of Payee’. Currently, when you make a payment to someone the bank will check that the account number and sort code you provide matches the ones on the account you wish to pay.
Throughout our scams campaign, we’ve heard of lots of stories where victims of scams have lost huge sums of money where they have believed they are making genuine payments for things like conveyancing fees or building work, but instead they are using bogus bank details sent to them by scammers.
The Forum has outlined that customers wishing to make a bank transfer will have to now enter the exact name on the account, as well as the other details. This would mean that when you transfer funds to another account the system would also need to confirm the name of the account you are paying matches the name you’ve provided.
If the transfer is to a person, the confirmation system will check to verify if the details are a match or not. If the transfer is a business, the confirmation system will return with the name, address and registration number of the company so that the consumer can check it.
The hope is that this confirmation system will encourage customers to verify details before transferring any money and also help to tackle one aspect of bank transfer scams.
The system will be available from December 2018, although it will be voluntary as to whether your bank offers it to you when you make a payment
We’ve been calling for confirmation of payee for some time now, so while we welcome its introduction, we believe it’s important that banks quickly act to introduce this measure to help protect their customers from scams.
Our Money expert, Gareth Shaw, said:
‘Hundreds of millions of pounds are being lost to these increasingly complex scams, so introducing confirmation of payee is a vital step towards boosting consumer protection.
‘With consumers still at risk of losing-life changing sums of money, banks must now urgently adopt these proposals.’
Update: 28 February 2018
Win! The regulator has confirmed plans and timeframe for scams reimbursement scheme. Following its consultation on a reimbursement scheme for victims of bank transfer scams, the Payments Systems Regulator (PSR) has today confirmed that it will press ahead with plans to better protect scams victims.
It has also announced the formation of a steering group to design the code that will underpin the reimbursement scheme, setting out the members as well as the key principles and objectives of the group for the next six months. Forming this steering group alongside Which? are Age UK, Toynbee Hall, and representatives from the banking and tech industries.
The group will deliver an interim set of rules by the end of September. These will then be consulted on with a final set agreed by the end of the year.
However, from September, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) will be able to use the draft code when determining new consumer complaints about authorised push payment scams.
We welcome today’s announcement as a step in the right direction. We hope that this will help to ensure the reimbursement scheme properly compensates victims who have been left out of pocket through no fault of their own.
However, the industry must also use other measures to better protect consumers at the point of transfer to stop such scams happening in the first place. These measures could include confirmation of payee, which would add an additional check before a bank transfer is made.
Do you want your bank to sign up to Confirmation of Payee to help protect you from bank transfer scams? What should the banks to do to protect their customers from losing money to bank transfers? Do you think the next government should tackle scams and financial fraud?