Recent figures released by the RBS group show that a whole 70% of their customers who fall victim to scams don ‘t get any of their lost funds back.
The figures showed that in the first three quarters of this year, some 5,000 RBS customers were victims of scams of various kinds. Further, the average cost of these scams per customer had gone up since last year by 40%.
This all meant that this year so far, customers at RBS have lost an estimated £25 million. With current estimates this means that less than £5 million of this will actually be recovered.
Bank fraud and scams like this are a growing problem, with the frequency of incidents occurring going up at an alarming rate. Indeed, the third week of October this year saw more reported cases than the whole of September. This fits with a general trend of growing amounts of digital and online crime around the country, as Mark Garnier of the Commons Treasury Select Committee pointed out.
“It is interesting that overall crime is going down” he said, “but we still clearly don ‘t know what is happening with crime online.”
The most common scams begin with an unsolicited phone call or email that results in customers being tricked into transferring money away or simply handing over their account details.
There has also been a relatively high frequency of ëromance scams ‘ that involve scammers falsely befriending victims and convincing them to send them money. It is partly because of the prevalence of scams like this that so little of the money lost is actually reclaimed. Money lost to a romance scam has not, strictly speaking, been stolen, rather, it has been transferred willingly but under false pretences. It is hard for a bank to put a measure in place to stop money being lost like this.
“The problem” said the Financial Ombudsman Service, “with complaints where consumers have been conned in to making the transactions on the fraudster ‘s behalf is that the bank is not generally responsible for the fraud, unless their advice, delays or other errors have resulted in the money being stolen.”
RBS ‘s head of fraud, Terry Lawson, had this to say on the subject: “The means by which fraudsters trick individuals into parting with their money is becoming more sophisticated, but it always ultimately depends on the individual transferring money out of their account.
“We would never contact a customer asking them to transfer money. If a customer of any bank is contacted by someone asking them to do this they should simply end the conversation and report the matter to the police.”
Worry regarding theft of details online has increased following news of the cyber-attack on Talk Talk last week, which involves thousands of customers ‘ information being stolen.
Talk Talk have since come out saying that the extent of the attack on their database was not as bad as initial estimates made it out to be but nonetheless, it has spawned a certain concern among individuals in the UK.