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Nearly 80% of APP scam cases start online, says UK Finance

About two-fifths of total scam losses where people were tricked into transferring money to a fraudster last year were not reimbursed, according to figures from trade association UK Finance.

The body said £285.6 million was returned to victims, representing about three-fifths (59%) of the £485.2 million lost to authorised push payment (APP) fraud in 2022.

More than half (57%) of reported cases related to purchase fraud, with other scams including impersonation scams, investment fraud, romance scams and people paying up-front fees for goods or services that never materialised.

The figures were released as UK Finance chief executive David Postings called for the burden of fraud repayments to be spread beyond the banking sector, saying there had been a “missed opportunity” to include tech companies in reimbursement.

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UK Finance’s annual fraud report said 2022 marked the first time that APP fraud reimbursement rates had exceeded 50%.

Currently, some UK banks have signed up to a voluntary reimbursement code and some, such as TSB, operate their own fraud reimbursement guarantees.

New financial regulations being considered by the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) will require banks and building societies to fully reimburse victims of authorised push payment (APP) scams, where the loss is more than £100.

UK Finance’s report indicated that APP scam reimbursement rates among banks which have signed up to the voluntary reimbursement code are about 66%. TSB recently said that its fraud guarantee refunds 97% of all fraud cases.

The total £485.2 million loss to APP fraud last year was down by 17% compared with the previous year, although the volume of cases, at 207,372, increased by 6%.

Within this total, 200,643 cases involved personal accounts and 6,729 cases involved non-personal or business accounts.

UK Finance said its figures indicate that 78% of APP fraud starts online, with telecoms accounting for 18% of these scams.

Its report said: “APP fraud losses continue to be driven by the abuse of online platforms used by criminals to scam their victims.

“These include investment scams advertised on search engines and social media, romance scams committed via online dating platforms and purchase scams promoted through auction websites.”

The Government recently released a new fraud strategy, which will include allowing banks to delay payments from being processed for longer, to allow for suspect payments to be investigated.

The strategy will also include banning cold calls on all financial products, such as those relating to bogus insurance or sham cryptocurrency schemes, to help stop scams at source.

Measures in the Online Safety Bill will also help to protect people from scam online adverts.

Mr Postings welcomed the plans to allow banks to delay suspect payments, but he said of the fraud strategy: “I think it could have included more on the tech companies than it did.”

He added: “They missed the opportunity to include them in reimbursement and I think that would have been helpful.”

Mr Postings said: “The banking sector is the only sector reimbursing at the moment. Our belief is that the burden should be spread.”

On the plans to make APP fraud reimbursement mandatory, Mr Postings said: “My view is that we run the risk with total reimbursement that people won’t take enough care and I do think there is a balance to be struck.”

He added: “I in no way want to victim blame, however, if there is literally no reason to take any care about making a payment, why would anybody do that.

“My other concern is that, in reimbursing everything, the definition of a fraud could, or a scam could, widen to include trade disputes.

“And my concern is that banks’ customers that aren’t affected by this are at some point paying the price for the reimbursement.”

He said the focus should be on stopping the fraudsters, adding: “A lot of this money is going to really bad actors that are destroying the fabric of our society, and that’s where I think the focus should be.”

Paul Davis, director of fraud prevention at TSB, said: “With two-fifths of the funds stolen by fraudsters not returned to customers of other banks, it’s clear that plans for mandated refunds can’t come soon enough.

“Action from social media firms and phone companies to reduce fraud is also crucial – as these sectors must take more responsibility for their users’ safety.”

Overall, the report said that more than £1.2 billion was stolen through fraud in 2022 – equating to more than £2,300 every minute.

This was a reduction of 8% compared with 2021. As well as APP scam losses, £726.9 million worth of unauthorised fraud made up the total.

Additional protections when people make payments, such as the “confirmation of payee” service which checks that someone’s name matches their account number, are having an impact, UK Finance said.

The report also said that card ID theft losses jumped to record levels last year.

Losses from card ID theft surged by 97% in 2022 compared with 2021, totalling £51.7 million. The number of cases more than doubled over the same period to 82,064 – and both totals are the highest ever recorded by UK Finance for this category.

Card ID theft happens when a criminal uses a card or card details, along with stolen personal information, to open or take over a card account held in someone else’s name.

Thefts require the compromise of customers’ personal information, which is then used to impersonate victims.

It is believed that the increase behind this type of fraud is a result of fraudsters’ efforts to target victims’ personal information using phishing emails, scam texts and the theft of mail from external mailboxes and multi-occupancy buildings, UK Finance said.

This information is then used to target customers’ existing accounts or apply for credit cards in their name.

Victims of unauthorised fraud cases such as these are legally protected against losses.

The banking and finance industry also prevented £1.2 billion of unauthorised fraud from getting into the hands of criminals last year, UK Finance said.

UK Finance’s Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign urges people to:

– Stop. Taking a moment to stop and think could keep you safe.

– Challenge. It is OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests.

– Protect. Contact your bank immediately if you think you have fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.