Consumer watchdogs are urging banks to be honest over how often they reimburse customers who have their money stolen through bank transfer scams.
In a new report published by The Financial Mail on Sunday, revealed that nearly 150,000 customers lost their savings in bank transfer scams last year and while some were reimbursed by their banks many people have received nothing and often the amounts stolen are significant and, in some cases, entire life savings have been stolen, the effect of this is devastating to victims especially if their bank is not willing to help or reimburse them.
Consumer champion group Which? Have asked that banks fully disclose their reimbursement rates by Friday this week to provide transparency about the rate at which customers who may have lost everything have been able to get their money back. Which say unless banks disclose this information customers will continue to be treated unfairly. Two years ago, this Friday marks a significant day in championing consumer fairness as banks agreed to sign up to a voluntary code of conduct that was designed to specifically stamp out this type of fraud which is known as ‘Push Payment Scams’. It was a landmark move by banks who committed to fully reimbursing victims of this type of fraud. However, two years on and only Barclays has disclosed their repayment figures. Barclays said it had refunded 74 percent of fraud victims in the first two months of the year. But figures released by UK Finance suggests that only 47% of victims were reimbursed last year, despite banks voluntarily committing to reimburse victims.
It is often the most vulnerable in society that are targeted by fraudsters, but bank transfer scams also known as push payment fraud is highly sophisticated and even the most savviest can be victimised. Bank transfer scams happen when a customer hands over their savings after being coerced or tricked into doing so by a fraudster who convinces the victim they are transferring their money to a trusted source like their own bank or police. Criminal gangs sometimes operate these sorts of scams which involve frightening a victim into believing their money is at risk if they do not move it to a safer place immediately. Often fraudsters use cloned telephone numbers to make it look like their bank or local police is calling them and they are highly convincing.
Push Payment Fraud is often untraceable with victims little to no way of getting their money back, so to combat these banks pledged to reimburse victims who in many cases have lost entire life savings. Gareth Shaw head of consumer group Which? Told the Mail on Sunday: “A total lack of transparency in how firms deal with victims of bank transfer scams has led to many people being treated unfairly and inconsistently. The chances of getting your money back is a lottery. We have asked banks to commit to publishing reimbursement rates. This should be a first step in an effort by the industry to give information on how banks protect their customers against fraud”.