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Fraud victims being left without satisfactory support from banks, says Which?

·4-min read

Some fraud victims are being left without satisfactory support from banks, potentially leaving them exposed to future scams, according to Which?

The consumer group found some customers struggled to contact their bank after a scam, including a customer who waited seven hours on hold, racking up a £50 phone bill.

Around eight in 10 (83%) victims of fraud or fraud attempts in the past 12 months said they were satisfied overall with how their bank had managed the incident, a survey by Which? found.

But it said this still leaves a significant number potentially “slipping through the cracks” – considering Office for National Statistics estimates that for the year ending March 2021 there were 4.6 million fraud offences.

Around one in seven (15%) people who reported fraud to their bank via phone or webchat said that they waited 30 minutes or more to speak to someone.

The consumer champion also found that a third (32%) of victims of fraud or attempted fraud said their bank did not offer advice or resources to help better protect themselves in the future.

It highlighted concerns over “recovery fraud”, when victims are scammed again by fraudsters pretending to help them recoup their losses, with victims losing £14,408 on average.

Which? contacted banks to ask what protocols they had in place for victims of fraud. All said they offer advice or guidance.

Many banks have signed up to a voluntary reimbursement code on bank transfer scams which instructs them to refund customers who are not at fault and give them adequate support.

But Which? wants the voluntary code to be replaced with a mandatory reimbursement scheme.

It is also calling for more transparency so customers can clearly see how their bank chooses to treat victims of crime.

TSB, which has its own fraud refund guarantee, has also called for a mandatory refund scheme in a consultation response to the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR).

Jenny Ross, Which? Money editor, said: “When banks fail to offer proper support, it can make a nightmare situation even worse, and an absence of information from firms about how people can protect themselves could even lead to ruthless scammers striking for a second time.”

Which? said that in one case, someone lost £3,900 after fraudsters posed as her bank.

She spent a total of seven hours on hold on the phone to her bank, racking up a £50 phone bill. The process took so long that her landline provider temporarily cut her off.

Which? said it took four days until her bank, HSBC, contacted her after she had been scammed to tell her that she would be refunded.

She told Which?: “I was terrified because I didn’t know what information the scammers had got.”

HSBC said: “We have recently made improvements to how fraud and scams can be reported, which means people can generally report a scam or fraud within minutes.”

In another case, a man received a phone call from a fraudster posing as a Lloyds fraud investigator.

Shortly afterwards, thieves had made large withdrawals, stealing more than £9,000 in total.

The bank initially said it would not refund him. Later, going through the transactions by phone, a Lloyds call handler noted that branch withdrawals had been made over the counter without the use of a Pin.

The man told Which?: “When I queried how I could be held liable, their attitude changed. Eventually, all the funds fraudulently withdrawn were refunded, aside from ATM withdrawals totalling £1,000. The investigation was wound up when it was found that the Lloyds branch at which the transactions occurred had no working CCTV on the day in question.”

Which? said following its involvement, Lloyds refunded the £1,000.

Lloyds said: “We’ve considered the particular circumstances of the case and have refunded the outstanding amount.”

Which? has tips if you have been scammed or are worried about being scammed:

– Call your bank directly, checking its website for the correct number to call.

– Change your passwords for any accounts that have been compromised due to fraud – and any that use the same password.

– Being scammed can take a huge toll on mental health. Mind and Victim Support have confidential helplines that provide support.

– Which? has a free scam alerts service that people can sign up to to find out about the latest frauds.

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