/ Scams

Why the PSR must take action to protect APP scam victims

We’re calling on the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) to introduce new transparency requirements on banks so that customers can see exactly how they treat and reimburse victims of APP scams.

8/07/2021: the PSR must not let victims down

Today, Rich Piggin (@rpiggin), Head of External Affairs and Campaigns at Which?, is appearing in front of the Treasury Select Committee to give evidence about the devastating impact of bank transfer scams and what action the regulator needs to take to make life better for victims. 

The chances are that in the past year you either have, or know somebody that has, received a text, call or email that turn out to be a scam attempt. While we should all be vigilant online, nobody intends to be the victim of a crime. Scam victims frequently talk of feeling scared and untrusting of others after the event, and often feel re-victimised when their bank blames them for not realising quickly enough that something wasn’t right.

These victims all too often struggle to get their money back, despite most major banks being signed up to a code that should ensure customers are reimbursed when they are not at fault. Banks are failing to implement the Code that they helped to write properly and consistently. Don’t just take our word for it – the Financial Ombudsman and the Lending Standards Board (which oversees the Code and is funded by the banks) have both criticised banks repeatedly over the years for their failures. The result is a lottery of protection for victims.

The situation is unsustainable. Encouragingly, the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) is proposing mandatory protections be introduced. One solution they have put forward is to let the banks modify and rewrite the existing code, effectively handing them the opportunity to water down the consumer protections they disagree with and ignoring the evidence from the last two years. We firmly oppose this. Instead, the regulator should take forward its other proposal and introduce a requirement on all firms to reimburse customers who have acted appropriately.

Self-regulation has failed. We must do better. Letting banks act as judge and jury when it comes to scams has not worked. We must put in place a new system centred on helping the victims of this terrible and growing crime.

Banks and the regulator have had two years to try and make self-regulation work. All the evidence shows that this approach has failed. £700k a day is being lost to this crime, but less than half of it is reimbursed. Victims – particularly vulnerable ones – are being routinely failed by banks whose actions are undermining the Code they helped to write.

It is vital that the PSR does not hand the banks the power to modify or rewrite the existing code. Instead, it must take writing the new rules into its own hands and make it mandatory for all firms to reimburse victims when they are not at fault.

Rich will be giving evidence from 10:30am today (Thursday, 8 July).  A longer version of this update appeared as an Op Ed in Times Redbox (paywalled content)


Do you agree that the regulator must not give banks the power to write their own rules on scam reimbursement?
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15/06/2021: Update

28/04/2021: PSR must take action

When you fall victim to a crime, you expect to be believed. If someone breaks into your house, you don’t expect the police officer to point out where you should have installed CCTV. If you get mugged, you don’t expect to be asked for proof of how you put up a fight. And if you fall victim to a sophisticated and intricate scam, you don’t expect your bank to add to your feelings of guilt and distress by pinning the blame on you.

Yet that is exactly what is happening at the moment, with victims of authorised push payment scams (otherwise known as bank transfer scams) when they are tricked into unwittingly transferring money to a scammer. 

Which? News: Banks routinely blame victims of fraud

We receive information from hundreds and thousands of victims every year. The case studies we see highlight the impact on victims of this horrific crime – and how this is often exacerbated by banks who appear not to care about what has happened to one of their own customers who may have just lost a life-changing sum of money.

Blaming the victims

Recent evidence published by the Lending Standards Board (LSB) and the Financial Ombudsman (FOS) demonstrate just how poorly some banks are treating victims and the lengths they will go to to try and pin the blame on individuals rather than accept any wrongdoing on their part.

The LSB oversees a voluntary code that industry helped to write and which sets out protections for APP scam victims. The Code states that victims should be reimbursed other than in a few specific circumstances – and even then banks are expected to consider the scam in the round and how individuals may have been affected by the context of what happened and how.

Data showing just how well banks are adhering to the letter and spirit of the Code was recently provided to the LSB by signatories to the Code (which includes all the major banks plus Co-op, Metro, and Starling) and published earlier this year. 

It paints a damning picture of how banks are interpreting and implementing the Code in wildly inconsistent ways and how victims are being mistreated across the board:

🔹 Victims were held fully or partially to blame 60% of the time, and therefore often denied any reimbursement

🔹 Blame was shared between the customer and either the bank sending or receiving the money, or between the two banks themselves, in a further 17% of cases

🔹 Two banks pinned the blame on victims in nine out of every ten instances

🔹 For investment scams – which often involve the highest amounts of losses – victims were blamed 67% of the time

🔹 Romance scams, which can involve extreme emotional and psychological manipulation, had a blame rate of 61%

Final adjudication

When a victim is dissatisfied  with the outcome of a decision made by their bank they can escalate it to the Financial Ombudsman for a final adjudication. In some cases, these decisions are published.

We had a look at some recent decisions, which were all upheld in favour of the victim (as are the vast majority of APP cases), and found evidence of banks placing extreme and unjustifiable expectations on what a customer should have done to avoid being scammed. 

These included HSBC telling a victim who lost £2,000 to a HMRC scam that it was “inconceivable” that he didn’t spot the red flags because he worked in a professional industry, and Nationwide refusing reimbursement of £1,146 because the victim “didn’t listen” to warnings given – despite receiving a call from a spoofed number which made her believe she was speaking to her building society.

In a separate case, Halifax only returned half of a £60,000 loss to an investment scam victim who had “failed to make sufficient checks” before investing – before backtracking after Which? intervened to point out they had never asked the victim what checks they had actually made.

All of these and more provide further evidence for what we have been saying for years: the banks are consistently misinterpreting the Code they helped to write in order to put the blame on the victim, and the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) is doing little to ensure they adhere to the rules.

Our calls on the PSR

We are calling on the PSR to use its upcoming consultation to introduce new transparency requirements on banks so that customers can see exactly how they treat and reimburse victims of APP scams. It must do this as quickly as possible to prevent banks making this a race to the bottom, and many more victims being denied rightful reimbursement

That same consultation will also recommend a way to make APP scam protections mandatory. We strongly believe that industry has been given sufficient time and opportunity to provide the solutions so under no circumstances must the banks be allowed to write another new code to replace the existing voluntary one as the PSR has suggested. 

We will be continuing to make this case over the coming months so that the PSR stands firm and takes action to protect victims.

What would you say to the PSR if it suggested allowing the banks to write another new code?


Having read all the comments in this Conversation a number of thoughts come to mind –

First, it is not proceeding like a conversation. There is no development of a theme, just a series of derogatory comments about the behaviour of banks. Only a tiny minority of contributors are registering that they have themselves experienced any adverse activity. The rest is a sort of general agitation against the banking industry and, regretfully, some of the comments show considerable misunderstanding of what their banks’ roles and responsibilities really are. Given the information available nowadays and the literature provided by the banks themselves this reveals a worrying knowledge gap.

Second, now that Which? has exposed the depth of distrust, contempt even, in which people hold their banks I feel that Which? — for the want of any more suitable body — should take a leading role in seeing what can be done with the industry, with the regulatory bodies, and with government to repair the damage and heal the wounds. Which? cannot just stir up a hornets’ nest and then sit on the side-lines watching it buzz away. It is not healthy for society to have a banking system generally perceived to be rotten.

Third, a lot of what is being written here is a generalisation, and it might or might not be fair comment; there is an element of explosive wrath accompanying many of the contributions and it is not clear why, other than a general anti-big-business bias. Would we prefer more banks, many of which might be small, poorly managed and unhelpful like some of the building societies used to be before they failed or got taken over [or like some of the little energy companies have been recently which soon collapsed]? Would we prefer banks that always compensated their customers for anything that went wrong with their account regardless of possible contributory negligence on the customer’s part? Would we like to bank with a firm that made hardly any profits, gave low-interest overdrafts and lent money to people who were a bad risk?

Finally, of all those expressing strong criticisms of the service they receive from their bank, how many are not receiving free banking? Would it not be better to revert to paid-for accounts with monthly service charges and more attractive terms for saving and loans? That might restore a stronger form of contractual relationship with customer satisfaction an embedded dimension.

There is, of course, no requirement to have an active bank account. So long as any wages, benefits, pensions, or other credits can initially be paid into an account they can be instantly transferred to a post office savings account, a building society pass book account, or taken out and kept in the teapot on the mantelpiece.

Once Which? has compiled and analysed all these responses it will be interesting to hear what it will do next. No more hand-wringing, I hope, as we had with some other campaigns. The people have spoken; they demand action; change is required. Which? has suggested that the Payment Systems Regulator must impose a new code on the banks so that victim reimbursement in Authorised Push Payment scams [or Payment Diversion Fraud as it is increasingly described] is the norm rather than the exception, but this won’t satisfy people. The whole banking construct needs to be reset with more branches, more managers, more cashpoints, lower lending rates, higher savings rates, a telephone call for every new payment, and mainly more money.

I wholeheartedly agree with almost all of this, John.
I hope your last sentence was a little tongue in cheek though.
We are most unlikely to see more bank branches and managers as they are not economic. However, we have seen a large growth effectively when the 11000+ post offices took on the main banking activities for the majority of the banks.
We could do with combined branches serving a number of major banks with access to impartial advice.
We will see a steady decline in the number of ATMs where they are little used but LINK are committed to keeping the current distribution and ensuring key places retain an ATM. However we need also to recognise that many more people need access to cash than ATMs have ever served, and can ever in the future. I hope the cash without purchase from establishments will be successful and spread UK wide.
Higher savings rates depend upon how much money the banks need to raise from the private depositor.
Lower interest rates depend upon the financial climate; at present they are particularly low.
Yes, I know your views I think and presume your tack is to summarise some people’s expectations that they want all the benefits without the pain – mainly of paying for the services the banks should offer them.

Yes, Malcolm. I get annoyed that Which? winds its community up to the point where it cannot gratify and then has nowhere to go.

Em says:
9 July 2021

Thank you John Ward, you must have read my mind. This rabble-rousing has gone too far with “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” or whatever the online equivalent is.

Which? now need to summarise the rag-bag of vitriol, summarise and publish the sensible suggestions raised – and not behind the paywall of The Times newpaper!

Very well said John, malcolm and Em.

I don’t think the majority of people do hold the contempt and vitriol for the banks that has been displayed here.

Many of the comments just don’t sound like they come from rational grown-ups, but more like anti-establishment student activists.

Interesting that yesterday this subject on social media was almost ignored:
Which? Facebook had 7 posts with 26, 11, 4, 8, 23 & 7 likes.
Which? Twitter has 2 posts, one has 7 likes.
Yes votes above 4080. Really????

Something has been off about this campaign since it started – fork-tongued unregistered supporters on demand who post nowhere else with long-standing Which? members not previously invited.

Compensation has to be paid for, it won’t come out of profits but the innocent bystanders will pay with lower interest on savings and higher mortgages.

If this campaign is to carry on, I would like some openness and honesty from Which? starting with all support and voting coming from registered posters. That’s the very least the innocent bystanders deserve as they will end up paying.

Em says:
9 July 2021

Many of the comments just don’t sound like they come from rational grown-ups …

I think you are being unkind to anti-establishment student activists. Rational six-year-olds maybe?

Policeman: “So Alex, why did you give the keys to that stranger and let him drive off in your mummy’s car?”

Alex: “Because he asked me to.”

Mark says:
9 July 2021

People need to take care when transferring money, why should the banks have to bare the costs of lost money if they are not at fault?

For some it is right that they should be compensated, but not everyone.
If you are stupid enough to pass on all details and passwords, on your head beit!
Why should we all pay for their idiocy?

For some it is right, but not for all!
If you are stupid enough to give out all your details and passwords, on your head be it!
Why should we all pay for their idiocy?

Em says:
9 July 2021

A longer version of this update appeared as an Op Ed in Times Redbox (paywalled content)

Where can Which? members access this for free? It is not acceptable that an article written by the Head of External Affairs and Campaigns at Which? is paywalled, unless this was done in his private capacity.

Mrs Veronica Lycett says:
9 July 2021

3 years ago I rang BT helpline re computer problem. My computer was fixed ok remotely from India.
Before hanging up the operator asked if I would like to take advantage of a “Computer life repair BT offer” for £350. I consented. Operator said she would transfer me to colleague to record details (they already had most of my details) they had not initiated the call. I transferred the money, checking after 30 minutes it had gone through. Discovered two amounts of £350 had been deducted. Phoned Help line and spoke to same people pointing out they had debited me twice. Received apologies for the mistake and told It would be corrected. Subsequently found yet a further £350 was in process of being deducted. Froze payment and contacted BT at UK number about the offer -was told no such offer existed.
Visited HSBC Bank and member of staff showed me that I was being scammed (on the Bank’s computer). They refused to compensate me because I had consented to the payment.
Then took it up with BT as I suspected member of India staff was the source of scam.
After a year of constant negotiation with BT they offered me £50. compensation, which I refused as an insult. I no longer subscribe to BT
I wonder if anyone else ever had this happen?

Hi Veronica that all sounds like you were never actually dealing with BT and were the victim of a tech support scam.

Those often start by tricking victims into believing that they have a PC problem and then showing them lots of PC gobbledegook as evidence.

Did your problem start that way?

If not, why did you choose to contact BT to fix it? I’d prefer to see folk using good local computer shops.

I posted a reply to Veronica mentioning that this looks like a technical support scam and most likely the number she called was not a BT number but a spoofed number she called from a planted pop-up on her computer. She can check out the scam-baiters videos, especially JIm Browning’s Tech Support scams . My original post disappeared, sorry so posting again. And sorry everyone if a bit off topic, but thought I might as well mention this to Veronica

I can only say this, the UK government is destroying the UK piece by piece, eg: destroying our freedom of speech, taking our human right to protest, destroying the values of the British people that so many died for in two world wars by mass immigration, they make the laws up so as to fit with what they wish and could not care about the indigenous people of Britain, the Electoral commission stop any and all parties that would stand in opposition to the Tory party, in short the UK is morally bankrupt with Boris Johnson at the head, still we can vote them out at the next election if we can find a party with any morels, yet I think the electoral commission will put a stop to that and try to keep the Tories in power.

Dave – You have demonstrated that you have freedom of speech.

I don’t think the Electoral Commission is the enemy and I think all political parties have the capacity to self-destruct.

As I read this meandering and somewhat divisive topic I wonder if we should not all be a little more charitable? It’s easy to criticise the mean old banks; after all, they’re largely still recovering from the dreadful 2008 financial crash caused by selfish borrowers, dodgy brokers and even criminals, who had wormed their way into financial institutions, cunningly bypassing the outstandingly effective security systems in play, to wreak havoc with the banks’ hard-earned cash.

Despite the banks’ long-standing commitment to openness, transparency and cooperation with each other, evil-doers, the like of which would have made Moriarty look positively benign, sneaked into the organisations and removed vast sums of money and gold, craftily evading all detection.

Now, as the banks struggle back into solvency with a mere £11.8 bn profit in HSBC’s case, down to struggling Barclays, making barely enough to buy crusts for the staff canteen, with a measly £2.4 bn, they will be doubtless wondering where the next crumbs will come from.

And before we start name-calling, using comments such as ‘fat cats’, we should remember the CEOs of these banks are paid a pittance. Life is hard for them, with the HSBC CEO struggling to get by on a mere £10.1 million salary and the CEO of RBS, the bank saved from dissolution by the Government’s generosity in paying £45 bn for its plunging shares, barely surviving on £4.5 million.

Is the desperately sad case of RBS, showing enormous compassion, the government then started selling the shares off. Of course, the loss was eye-watering – some £3.2 bn was lost for the taxpayers – but after all, we’re happy to help out the struggling banks, are we not?

So let’s be kinder to the banks. So what if an elderly pensioner is conned into transferring a few thousand to a very skilful con-artist. We’ve all been there, and we’ve never fallen for it have we? Teach her to be more careful in the future. After all, the banks have never fallen foul of con artists, thieves or criminals, have they?

Em says:
9 July 2021

@Ian – Spot on!

I think we could all learn to show more contrition by listening to the fine words of the excutive members of the Anglo Irish Bank in conversation.

Google “Anglo Tapes – Anglo boss David Drumm” and go to the LISTEN webpage published by the (Irish) Independent newspaper.

Then see if you have the skills to apply to be a bank executive yourself, earning a multi-million euro salary. You need to use the following financial terms, plus a few choice profanaties, to make a sentence of more than six words. Ready?

Yeah – No – Y’know – Em. (Words can be reused more than once in a sentence)

Em says:
9 July 2021

Whoever down-voted Ian is at some risk. If they can’t recognise thinly disguised irony, they will definitely struggle to spot a scam email.

I cancelled the down vote, as I do with other posts that are not offensive.

There must have been at least two down votes as I upvoted (and was I think the first to do so) – hadn’t split my sides so much in quite a while!

Thank you, all. I expected the down-votes, of course. They do show how few people really read things these days and think about what is being said. Wonder if I could market it as some sort of Scam detection protocol?

Blimey! Listening to those tapes (Courtesy of Em) evoked memories of badly-written sitcoms. Astonishing – truly astonishing.


Brilliant piece of paradoxical irony. Continuing on this popular topic, it occurred to me, if banks go to such great lengths to prevent money laundering, why don’t they apply similar measures to prevent cyber criminology? Bees keep appearing in odd places at the moment, but the following may shed some light on banking money laundering procedures:


Thanks for the link, Em.
We put people in positions of power where they do not deserve to be. (Some of) those who read Private Eye will, I expect, like me be continually dismayed (that’s a bit mild) at the corrupt, incompetent, self serving antics of unregulated (it seems) local politicians reported in “Rotten Boroughs”. There seems no one holding them to account.

Em says:
10 July 2021

Blimey! ??? I can’t find that in my book of Banking Terms. Could someone translate please?

Maybe there are so few women in the boardroom, because they don’t have the required vocabulary. It certainly doesn’t work for me: “… Em, Em, Em …” “What now?”

Anyone completed the test yet? You may add “OK” to the list of permitted words, if you are finding it too hard.

Down votes would be best if removed as an option. They serve no useful purpose, in my view. A suitable comment explaining disagreement is of far greater value.

At the risk of being flamed, I’ve just voted against “Do you agree that the regulator must not give banks the power to write their own rules on scam reimbursement?” poll. Surprisingly I have (presently) 94 allies – and several thousand wanting the banks not to draft their own rules. In the text of the article it talks about writing “code of conduct” not rules.

I cannot think of anyone better to draft such rules, to pay deference to the policy/code of conduct laid down by the government and/or regulators.

The important paper here is the policy. The distinction is important. However, even if the poll had been asking if banks should write the code of conduct, I’d want them to have a hand in it.

I also voted for that. But, as usual, we are given rather loaded binary (don’t like that much) choices in a situation that is far from black and white. The trouble is, Which? then uses the “result” of a badly framed poll to further its mantra.

No flaming from me Roger.

They are fake votes anyway. Both the invitation and the weekly scoop went out yesterday morning, there is nothing linking this convo on the front page, but yesterday evening and this morning the number is rising at a steady rate unaccompanied by any verbal diarrhoea.

I ignored the polls that appeared to be designed to produce a certain response. I’m surprise there is no mention of the need for customers to be treated consistently, irrespective of bank.

Em says:
10 July 2021

Anyone who thinks banks and other large institutions are going to sort out cyber-crime any time soon is in for a big disappointment.

There are lots of posts here blaming the banks for forcing people to use the Internet. No one is forcing you! Keep your money in a sock under the bed, or hidden under a tree stump, if you are more comfortable with that. Sometimes the old methods are still the best.

But no-one seems to consider that the banks – and lots of other institutions – are themselves being forced to use the Internet. Banks need to connect to their ATM networks. They need to participate in inter-bank transfer schemes, like BACS and SWIFT and collect Direct Debits on behalf of their business customers. Governments are requiring electronic filing of PAYE, VAT, accounts and corporation taxes.

Major banks have little choice in the matter. And nor do you if you want free banking and your family name isn’t Coutt or Hambro. (I do remember a story about James Hambro being asked to write his name and address on the back of a cheque. His response: “Is that really necessary? It’s on the front!”)

I have a special place in hell for all the IT security consultants I have dealt with over the years. They are next door to the H&S consultants. Apart from trotting out no-longer-appropriate policies, like change your password every 30 days, they are hard-pressed to explain the value of these policies in practical terms, even when confronted with more up to date advice from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre. At best, they have someone else to blame when things go wrong.

After several days of wrangling, they usually leave me to get on with my job, because they still have no clue what I am doing or what the real risks and vulnerabilities are. To be fair, nor do I sometimes – I’m just doing what I’ve been employed to do to the best of my competence and ability. It’s rather like the insurance companies who insist on window locks being fitted, when they haven’t examined the construction or fixing of the windows.

The biggest concern I have is the focus on security policies, which are often aimed at the bank’s own employees, behaviours, and even entrapment. They do this, rather than looking at the external threats, because it is easier to control and monitor.

We also suffer the biannual “refresher” training, which is so boring it is less than useless. Sorry? The criminal world and technology hasn’t moved on since last time you ran through this tosh? You’re expecting me to apply a twenty point check list against each email before I open it, in case it is spam?

It makes me want to go back to the 1970s when life was so much simpler. Just my car had to be inspected for possible IRA bombs and booby-traps, and we had to watch out for entrapment by Soviet agents.

Finally, there is the idea that somehow scammers and other criminals are aware of our carefully-crafted security policies (which the more professional ones certainly will be) and of course they would only try out exploits in line with our thinking. For obvious reasons, most banks will shun candidates with any practical experience of criminal activity or have the necessary qualifications on the PNC.

So hell won’t be freezing over in my lifetime and I’ll meet my IT security consultants again on Dante’s Level Eight where they belong, along with all the scammers they are supposed to be protecting us from. What’s on Level Eight? The Fraud Department.

As a rather specialised H&S Consultant myself, I must confess that I have had more than a few battles with IT security down the years.

The worst case was being issued a new unencrypted laptop, then being told it needed encrypting for my classified work, only to be then told that such encryption was unavailable. At least where I was working then, too many security folk imposed rules that almost stopped revenue earning work being carried out, or required ridiculous levels of clerical effort that clients would not pay for.

I do also remember the days of those “boot and bonnet, sir” checks. My best score was receiving them 3 out of a maximum 4 times going on and off site , when travelling with a colleague to a sister site (and then back again afterwards) for a meeting.

My experiences in H&S have usually been more positive, where the grounds of “reasonable practicality” have been used to ensure that necessary work is done safely.

Where I now work, management are trained to lead the safety culture and everyone is empowered to make safety challenges. Those can be made either where a safety deficiency is seen or perceived or where imposed safety measures are not understood or are seen or perceived to be pointless. I tend to argue that pointless safety rules actually increase risk, because they can divert attention way from more necessary safety measures.

In H&S, we expect everyone to play their part in managing the risks around them. I think that principle must also apply to ecommerce. So I think bank customers have an obvious duty to safeguard their own money, including by not getting taken in by scams. But should those defences fail, that should not be the end of the story. Banks must also take measures to help prevent successful scams.

But what about protection and mitigation? When bank customers fall prey to “social engineering” (as IT security would call it) should they be compensated by their banks? I don’t think anyone would argue against having good insurance against fire and theft at home, but I don’t think anyone expects the responsibility for such insurance to lie anywhere other than with householders.

Charles Lowe says:
10 July 2021

Why can we not just ask the banks to delay by 24 hours making any payment to a person or organisation they have never paid before – that would give people time to think and cancel most scam payment requests?

What evidence is there that people would rethink within 1 or 2 days?
I expect that banks could be required to tell the regulator how many requests they have received from people who want to stop a payment. We could then see the likely success of such a measure. However, we can individually delay out payments so, if we are nervous, we can do that now. But if you are unsure, why would you make the payment in the first place? We could try to find out the numbers involved.

It’s well established that scammers can put their victims under pressure and many don’t behave rationally under pressure. With a delay by default (which need only be for payments to new payees) there is at least the opportunity to take action. Apparently not everyone reports that they have been scammed.

If we purchase goods from an online retailer we have the right to cancel the order for no reason whatsoever. I wonder how much that costs retailers.

Em says:
10 July 2021

I’m not sure why we need a payment delay at all. Who says the customer is the only one who can’t be trusted?

Where there is an exchange of money for goods or services, why does the customer, who didn’t solicit the purchase, have to make the first move? If you want my business so desperately, you can invoice me.

For products like travel insurance and appliance warranties, it should be illegal to take payment up front. There is no need to take payment first. The policy is issued – you have the right to a 14 day cooling off period anyway. Sometimes there are exclusions where the policy doesn’t even provide full cover in the first 14 days, like pet medical insurance.

If the customer fails to make the appropriate payment in due course, the policy lapses. No payment, no claims. Simples!

I am not disagreeing. I am simply trying to get an idea how many might be helped by such a delay. Just information.

Em says:
10 July 2021

Maybe I am strange, but I cannot easily think of a time where I have entered into a transaction that I did not initiate myself. There are so many situations where this was the right decision.

The unsolicited phone calls were many: “Would you like to buy life insurance?”, “We are in your area installing double glazing/solar panels.” “Do you need your oven/carpets cleaned?”

The door knockers: “You have a loose roof tile.” “Your gutters need cleaning.” “The chimney needs repointing.” “I have enough spare asphalt to relay your driveway.”

The street hustlers: “I’m doing a survey on … .” “Are you looking for cheap West End theatre tickets?” “I found this gold ring … .” “We are offering free admission to our night club.”

In the shops: “Do you need the right colour shoe cream?” “What about a nice tie to go with that shirt?” “Would you be interested in an extended warranty?” “We can Scotchguard your carpets and offer a five year warranty.”

In restaurants: “Can I offer you some garlic bread?” “Extra fries with that?” “Do you want a large Coke?” “The chef’s special is … .” “Can I show you the wine list?”

At the car hire desk: “We can offer you a special upgrade today.” “What about collision waver insurance?” “Do you need a sat nav?”

For me, these questions cause slowly rising panic. What’s going on here? Where is the scam? What’s in it for me if I do this? Why should I do this now, when it never even occured to me? So the request is met with a polite but firm refusal. If they persist or get persuasive, the alarm bells ring.

Maybe I have missed the opportunity of a lifetime somewhere along the line. But my suspicious mind and instictive reactions appear to have served me well so far.

Yes. I believe that my well developed resistance to sales techniques has been a great help in dealing with scammers.

Try quoting the zen masters “Is that so.” REPEATEDLY.

Can the zen masters seek mediation if their meditation training is unsatisfactory?

I asked a zen master how he managed to deal with past hurts. He replied, “That was zen and this is now.”

We been forced to go digital and use less less cash ,somethime it`s easy but sometime its a nightmare.It happened to me that I had to pay for parking near a hospital in Bristol,I had a five pounds note and no one wanted to exchange it in coins and i had to leave the car without paying,otherwise I had to loose my appointment.Giving power to banks to do whatever they want with my hard earned money is totally wrong.I wish to have my cash in my wallet ,why Im forced to work with a bank?and pay the bank to manage my earnings?

Mandel – I learnt that lesson a long time ago, well before the banks started reducing cash facilities [although, to be fair, they did start opening branches longer and opening on Saturday mornings too].

Since cars have always seemed to lead to us ending up in unplanned places at unplanned times we have always kept a tin of change and a couple of notes in the car for just such a situation. Topping up the money from time to time and making sure the coins and notes are still in circulation are minor inconveniences. Best to check the contents when collecting the car from the service garage as well!

John Lane says:
11 July 2021

its about time the powers that be were held responsible for allowing all these scammers to get away with all these scams and fiddles. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t get a phone call, text, e-mail, cold callers at the door, mail, fliers and so on. At the moment were dealing with all the scams that come our way, were getting to the point at our age we might get caught out by one of them,. I’ve reported so many only for them to change there tact and try different ways to con us out of our hard earned savings and nothing seems to get done. Most of the calls are from people who can hardly speak English or under stand the word NO.
Surely someone can stop all these media sites they can be traced and blocked and fined or put in prison . I’m 71 and getting to the stage in life where I forget more than I remember at times.
I could name quite a lot of these sites but would probably get done for falsely accusing them of illegal something or other and finish up having to compensate the thief’s who run these so call companies what a crazy world we live in.

Eddie Dougall says:
11 July 2021

The opportunity to truly democratise the banks came and went after the 2008/9 crash. After Gordon Brown’s holding measures, but not solutions, the Tory/LD coalition having managed successfully but deceitfully to attribute the blame for the crash on Labour, went on to allow banks to press on virtually as before. The ‘remedy’ they employed was to create an ‘internal wall’ between banking and the ‘casino’ activities they had become addicted to. The wall was imaginary, and treated and seen as such by all but the coalition. Until real separation, actual divorce between the two sides to banking is forced upon them, the needs and rights of personal bank account holders will never be take seriously by those taking obscene remuneration from out of control ‘too big to be allowed to fail’ banks.

Eddie – I am not aware that any personal account holders have actually lost any money because the retail and commercial arms of the banks have been joined at the hip [pardon the impossible allusion].

Organisations that traditionally provided personal banking and not much else — like the original trustee savings banks, some credit unions and friendly societies, and small-town building societies — didn’t seem to prosper or provide the range of services people required.

I think you might be conflating a number of problems. It was the over-energetic home loans market that caused a lot of trouble in the UK on different fronts — excessive loans to value, the trading of loan books, and miss-sold payment protection plans. These might well have been sparked by the aggressive trading habits dripping down from the dealing floors above but it was the imprudent management and lax supervision of an over-comfortable traditional management cadre that allowed it to happen. Many other influences were at work in the lead up to the crash such as the de-mutualisation of building societies, the highly-excited mergers and acquisitions activity where there was always “a deal to be done”, the ‘big bang’ digitisation of trading, the over-valuation of companies and rewarding of their executives, and the treatment of pension funds as spendable capital. Nobody saw all these things coming and joined up the dots. With hindsight it is easy to blame X or Y but they were all victims of circumstances . . . and where are they now?

The point is that nobody wants unprofitable banks, so to protect against loss they have to aim for high profits.

Only two banks were bailed out. The others paid the price financially. This happened due, partly, to events elsewhere but under a government that had introduced light touch regulation and was keen to see the housing market boom, watching as income rules for mortgages were relaxed including self assessment of income.

”England’s win in the Euro semi-finals on Wednesday has understandably kick-started a huge scramble for the chance to be at Wembley for the national team’s biggest match in decades – and we’re seeing tickets on unofficial websites selling for an eye-watering £17,000.
Will we be expecting our banks to refund the money to these fans, under the CRM, when they are denied access to the beautiful game?

I know there is nothing quite like being at a cup final, but the televisual experience these days is far superior to that we could enjoy even a few years ago.

I was looking at my quarter sheet of ‘England Winners 1966’ postage stamps the other day and wondering whether we are in for a repeat issue. They were actually the commemorative issue stamps for the World Cup competition that had been on sale for weeks before the final but were hastily over-printed with ‘England Winners’ for issue on the Monday following the match at regular prices. They have no significant value today.

Where will N Sturgeon’s loyalties lie this evening? Perhaps there will be some alternative entertainment on the Scottish channels, and will Scottish pubs be allowed to open late?

”Over £2m has reportedly been lost to pension scammers since the start of 2021, with average losses more than doubling from last year, new research from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) reveals. The data – provided by Action Fraud – shows the average loss was £50,949 to May 2021,

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/07/pension-scam-average-losses-more-than-double-in-a-year-how-to-protect-your-savings/ – Which?

I calculate that 40 people have been taken in. It does not seem like a very successful or widespread scam.

I agree with that arithmetic, but it is still a shame to hear that those victims have been conned out of their retirement savings.

I think there has been a general hyper-inflation of the damage caused by the APP and some other scams, although I would not underestimate the acute distress caused by the losses for those involved.

The losses in each case might be considerable [and rising] but the number of actual cases is not so great as appears to be portrayed. The potential losses are high but it seems to be clear that while the number of scam attempts is huge the hit rate is low because, by and large, people are alive to the scams and closing them down rapidly.

A recent contributor reported three attempts to get access to his computer, for three different alleged problems, within the space of a few hours. The scammers are knocking each other out now and, while there is no room for complacency, this particular fraud might have reached its natural peak.

I would guess that a very high percentage of the reports submitted to ActionFraud and other sites are scam attempts where no actual loss has occurred. If that is the case then the efforts of the enforcement authorities should be adjusted more towards the disruption and apprehension of offenders.

Frederick Goodwin, alias Fred the Shred, RBS ex CEO, charmed his way into becoming one of the most successful bank fraudsters in UK banking history. Psychological analysis of his character, a ruthless charmer, revealed he had all the hallmarks of a hedonistic psychopath.

I think you mean Fred Goodwin? He was cleared of fraud and was probably simply incompetent – gambles that did not pay off.
Goldman Sachs committed fraud.

Yes. Apologies for the error, I have edited it 🙂

Nevertheless, he was stripped of his exalted position and his knighthood and left the taxpayer to pick up the pieces of his gross incompetence and reward him with a lucrative pension to boot!

I doubt he was ‘simply incompetent’. The positions he held preceding the crash, as well as the qualifications he’d obtained suggested a highly competent individual, if one lacking in judgement.

But it might have been the rather large size of the pension he refused to reduce that exercised so many.

It does call into question the way in which we treat the hugely wealthy. We tend to revere wealth – probably a hangover from our class-ridden, pre-war society, but at least he did go when it was suggested he went. Many directors do not, and it’s all too often when the humble workers at the coal face are hung out to dry, while those supposedly running the companies continue to evade personal responsibility and enjoy their substantial pickings.

In his position, lacking in judgement suggests incompetence – no competent to carry out the role he was in.

Great wealth is held up as a sign of success and we tend to celebrate success. People are entitled to the fruits of their endeavours but it should not come at the expense or the destitution of others. Many [but far from all] of the Victorian captains of industry were philanthropic and enlightened in the treatment of their workers and the provision of model conditions, but it was usually a by-product of the pursuit of profits, as will ever be the case.

In the world of banking, one argument for the high rewards is that the downsides of errors and misjudgments are so severe, the relationship of risk to reward being the kernel of money-lending and speculation.

And yet he was still able to attain his position by his cunning manipulation of others and self indulgent consumerism. A man without a conscience who almost bankrupted the country and relieved hundreds of his loyal staff of their jobs. A good example of a man without a conscience. It is estimated one in every hundred people possess the characteristics of Fred the Shred. They are to be avoided at all costs. I should know, I was once married to one!

Bank regulations need to be decided in our parliament, in full view of public scrutiny.
Deciding Banking rules in back rooms or gentlemen’s club should stay where it belongs in the early 19th Century and is not fit for purpose.

Kevin — There is an argument that there is too much regulation of banking — aside from the essential conditions which are enshrined in statute.

Looking just at this particular question of compensation when customers have suffered a loss though no fault of their bank when dealing with fraudsters, there might be no reason why each bank should not make its own policy and declare it so customers can choose which quality of service they would like to have and pay for.

It could be mandated that each bank must be open about their criteria and publish their record of positive and negative determinations. The problem is that dealing with these crimes relies heavily on inter-bank cooperation so there is a need for a coordinated response and a common approach. This is secured through the work of the Payment Systems Regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, the Financial Ombudsman Service, and the Bank of England.

I lack confidence that the detailed legislative involvement of members of Parliament would improve matters. As statutory instruments, Orders and Regulations are subject to presentation to Parliament for approval and there are mechanisms for reviewing them before implementation.

If you read the introduction to this Conversation you will see that the Treasury Select Committee of the House of Commons is actually examining this question currently and that Which? is making representations to it. The Select Committee can make recommendations to the government.

I see from your voting on regulating the banks that 2% of your voters are bankers! Iain