Banks could be required to publish their bank transfer scam data

Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent

Banks could be required to publish their bank transfer scam data, including reimbursement levels, under options being considered by the regulator.

The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) wants to hear views about authorised push payment (APP) scams, where people are tricked into sending money to a fraudster.

In the first half of 2020, losses due to APP scams totalled £208 million.

Many banks have signed up to a voluntary reimbursement code, but there have been concerns that the code is being interpreted narrowly in some cases, leaving customers out of pocket.

Potential options put forward by the PSR include making sure everyone can see how banks and building societies handle APP scams, by requiring them to publish their scam data, including reimbursement levels.

Banks and building societies could also be required to adopt a standardised approach to sharing data to help identify scams to stop them from happening in the first place.

Chris Hemsley, managing director of the PSR, said: “We want to make it harder to commit these devastating crimes and also see victims properly protected.”

The PSR is inviting responses by April 8 2021.

Gareth Shaw, Which? head of money, said: “The PSR has had more than four years since Which?’s scams super-complaint to study the evidence.

“Every day the regulator drags its heels, fraud victims are losing hundreds of thousands of pounds to bank transfer scams and the impact on those who lose life-changing sums can be devastating.

“Banks, payment providers and consumer groups are united in agreement that reimbursement should be made mandatory.

“We believe stronger enforcement must also be put in place to ensure victims are treated fairly, while banks and payment providers must be made to regularly publish information about reimbursement rates to improve transparency and address the shocking approach taken by some firms.

“Now is the time to take decisive action.

“If the payment regulator is not prepared to do what is necessary then the Treasury must step in and take control of ensuring consumers have the protection they need from scams and that victims know they will be reimbursed if they are targeted by criminals using sophisticated tactics to steal their money.”

A spokesman for TSB, which has its own fraud refund guarantee, said: “Today’s consultation is a welcome step in the right direction towards giving better protection for more customers by banks and other payment providers.”

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “Fraud has a devastating emotional impact on victims and the money stolen goes on to fund serious organised crime, so the banking industry’s primary focus is on stopping these scams happening in the first place.

“We will be carefully considering the Payment Systems Regulator’s proposals and responding in due course. We agree that new legislation and regulation is needed to help prevent people falling victim to authorised push payment fraud and ensure consumer protections apply consistently across the banking industry.

“As the PSR recognises, other industries also have a role to play in tackling fraud, for example by addressing the use of online platforms for advertising fake investments and preventing the theft of customer data. We therefore look forward to working with the government and regulators on a comprehensive approach to tackling fraud that ensures all sectors take action to protect consumers and stop money getting into the hands of criminals.”

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