TSB’s 5.2 million customers are now protected by a ‘fraud refund guarantee’. Our guest, the Head of Fraud at TSB, explains why the decision was taken.
This is a guest post by Ashley Hart. All views expressed are Ashley’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.
My job is to prevent fraud. Perhaps the simplest measure of success in my role is to reduce losses as a result of it.
But what does that really mean? The answer isn’t simple, because it depends on how a bank looks at fraud.
The traditional view is that fraud losses are operational losses. A ‘cost of doing business’. If you follow that logic, reducing those losses is key to profitability, and you do that by reducing the losses in the cheapest way possible.
Fraud prevention systems, and customer education, are expensive things; it’s cheaper to reduce losses by holding somebody else accountable for them – the customer. By setting strict limits on when a customer is eligible for a refund, you can reduce the cost of fraud to the bank.
But that is outdated. And wrong.
Victims of crime
Fraud is a crime. And when you remember that, it follows that you remember that defrauded customers are victims of a crime, and have the right to be treated as such.
All of a sudden, with that simple change in mentality, justifying reducing losses by passing them on to victims becomes harder – as it should.
Thankfully, there aren’t many crimes left where victim-blaming is acceptable. I don’t think fraud should be one of them.
Think about a street robbery. Picture any one of us walking down the street, when our mobile phone rings. We take it out of our pocket to answer it, just as a criminal on a moped sweeps past – knocking us to the ground and snatching the phone.
There’s no doubt that we made that crime possible, or at least more likely, by answering the phone call. But does that make the crime our fault? No, of course it doesn’t – the fault lies 100% with our moped-mounted criminal.
And are we really saying that answering a phone call is a good reason to be targeted by a criminal? That’s just something that we all do, and should feel safe doing, every day.
In this example, the streets are publicly owned. In banking, the ‘streets’ are owned and controlled by banks. I think we have a duty to keep our customers safe when they’re walking down them.
Using the internet, answering phone calls, receiving emails, are all everyday activities that our customers should feel safe doing whilst they’re walking our ‘streets’.
The Fraud Refund Guarantee
We’ve launched our Fraud Refund Guarantee because we think banks should step up and take responsibility for fraud that happens on our watch.
I started this guest post talking about how I could claim success in my role. If I can’t reduce losses by blaming customers, how do I reduce them?
The answer of course is by preventing the fraud in the first place. That’s why the protection we now offer our customers is just one part of our fight against fraud.
We’re taking a three-pronged approach – prevent, protect, and pursue. Our Guarantee is about protecting our customers.
We’re running fraud prevention workshops across the UK, and of course we’re always enhancing our fraud systems. But I need your help.
This is one of the hardest things to get right, and I need to know how we can do better, how we can reach you and share what we know about fraud and scams. So what can I do that will help you to stay safe?
Chasing the criminals
The final part of our strategy is pursuit. I can’t stand it when I’m told that fraud is a victimless crime.
I speak to a lot of our customers when they fall victim to fraud, and I can assure you that they feel victimised. And whilst our customers will now get their money back, even if they’ve made an honest mistake, the impact of fraud is more than financial.
To start with, it’s inconvenient, upsetting and sometimes humiliating. And criminals shouldn’t get away with it.
We also need to remember that whilst criminals are profiting from fraud, they’re not going to stop doing it. And that money pays for other crimes – which often blight our streets in other ways.
So, we chase the criminals – working with Police all over the UK to make sure that the fraudsters pay the price for their crime.
Our recent announcement is just the start of the action we need. Our Fraud Refund Guarantee is a step in the right direction and keeps our customers at the heart of our thinking – where they belong.
And our message to fraudsters is: if you target our customers, there will be consequences – we will be looking very hard to find you.
This was a guest post by Ashley Hart. All views expressed were Ashley’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.
We believe all banks must now follow TSB’s lead and ensure that their own customers are not left paying for the cost of this crime. Do you agree?