Companies should not get 'off hook' when customers scammed

Companies should face more pressure to take responsibility for scams rather than leaving the onus on their customers to protect themselves, a watchdog has urged.

Which? has called on the Government's Joint Fraud Taskforce to review how businesses take responsibility when their customers are scammed, and report by the end of the year.

The watchdog, launching its 'Safeguard us from Scams' campaign, said even the savviest consumers could fall victim to fraudsters, and research had found fears around such crime was starting to affect consumer behaviour.

A Populus poll for the group this month found almost half of people (48%) say they do not use certain online products, services or apps for fear of being targeted by scammers.

Around six in ten (62%) of those polled said they had been targeted by online fraudsters in the last year, with the most common types of scams being phishing emails purporting to be from a bank or payment service (49%), messages seeking money for services or help (26%) and bogus computer support (25%).

It also found 85% of people think businesses should have equal or greater responsibility than consumers for protecting them from online fraud and scams.

The Office for National Statistics estimated that there were around 5.1 million incidents of fraud in the UK last year, meaning approximately one in every 10 adults was affected.

Which? said the Government "should be doing more" to pressure businesses to protect their customers from fraudsters' "ever-more sophisticated tactics".

The watchdog said it welcomed the establishment of the Joint Fraud Taskforce, set up by Home Secretary Theresa May in February this year, but said the focus should be widened to examine how businesses could protect consumers from fraud and scams.

It is calling on the taskforce to look at whether companies are taking enough responsibility when their customers are defrauded, investigate potential improvements to systems used to prevent fraud and make recommendations by the end of the year.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "When we know that even the savviest people can be scammed by fraudsters, it's vital that everything possible is done by businesses to better protect consumers.

"And where firms haven't done enough to protect their customers, it's entirely right that the responsibility to put things right should be with them.

"The Government's taskforce must not let businesses off the hook. More must be done to prevent fraud and protect consumers."

:: Populus surveyed 2,066 UK residents online between April 22-24.

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