Consumer group Which? makes super-complaint on bank transfer fraud
Consumer group Which? has made the first super-complaint to financial regulators, calling on them to ensure banks better protect customers who are tricked into transferring money to a fraudster.
UK consumers make over 70 million bank transfers a month compared to just over 100 million in a whole year a decade ago. While credit and debit cards have lots of security checks and systems in place to detect and prevent fraud, Which? says protections on bank transfers have not kept up and banks should shoulder more responsibility for money lost to scams made by bank transfer.
Victims conned into transferring money by bank transfer to a scammer currently have no legal right to get their money back from their bank, unlike with many other payment methods. However, six in ten people are unaware of this lack of consumer protection.
Financial Fraud Action reported more than 1 million incidents of fraud in the first six months of 2016, while Which? research found one in ten people had, or knew someone that had, made a bank transfer payment to a fraudster’s account.
As scams become ever-more sophisticated, Which? says consumers can only protect themselves so far. People cannot be expected to detect complex scams pressuring them to transfer money immediately, or look-alike bills from their solicitor or builder.
A super-complaint allows designated consumer bodies to complain to regulatory bodies, including sector regulators, about market features that are significantly harming consumers’ interests. Which? has submitted this super-complaint to the Payment Systems Regulator and alerted regulator the Financial Conduct Authority. They now have 90 days to investigate and respond.
“Consumers can only protect themselves so far”
Alex Neill, director of policy and campaigns at Which? says: “We all now regularly use bank transfers to pay for things, but what most of us don’t realise is that if you’re conned into paying out money to a fraudster you stand to lose all of your money, unlike when you use your credit or debit card.
“With scams on the rise, consumers can only protect themselves so far and we believe that banks must do more to tackle bank transfer fraud and safeguard their customers from scams.”
Issued by a bank as part of a current account and, in a nutshell, serves as electronic cash. Unlike a credit or charge card, where you get an interest-free period before you have to settle the bill, the funds spent on a debit card are withdrawn immediately from your current account. Unless you’ve arranged an overdraft, if you don’t have the cash in the account, you can’t spend it.