VICTORIA BISCHOFF: Banks must keep paying up to help fraud victims

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Compensation row: Around £1.3bn is believed to have been pocketed by scammers just this year, and these losses are only set to balloon further


Today alone, fraud victims in Britain will lose another £4 million. That’s around £1.5 billion pocketed by scammers in a year.

And as career criminals continue to outsmart the police, banks and security experts, these losses are only set to balloon further.

So it’s little wonder our profit-hungry High Street banks are feeling a bit tetchy about picking up the tab.

Compensation row: Around £1.3bn is believed to have been pocketed by scammers just this year, and these losses are only set to balloon further

When banks first agreed to fund a fraud compensation scheme in May 2019, it was supposed to be a temporary solution.

But 19 months on, none of their longer-term proposals — such as adding a small surcharge to every transaction, or raising funds from fines for data breaches — have gained any traction.

As Money Mail reveals here, banks have now agreed to extend their refund promise for a further six months. But it is painfully obvious that a voluntary code of conduct is not working.

Some banks are doing their best to treat customers fairly, even hiring behavioural psychologists to improve the effectiveness of their fraud warnings.

But others routinely try to wriggle out of paying by blaming victims for being careless — despite knowing full well just how sophisticated scammers’ tactics have become.

Figures show one bank is refunding a pathetic 1 per cent of customers who lose money to fraud, and others are almost as bad. Yet we have no way of knowing which banks are recording such shameful refund rates because they refuse to say.

Banks should be forced to disclose this vital information in the same way they must publish customer service rankings online and in branches. 

After all, if they had nothing to hide they would all be like TSB, which won’t stop shouting about its almost flawless fraud refund record.

If crooks steal your credit or debit card, or set up a bogus direct debit, you are protected by robust refund guarantees enshrined in law.

There should be similar legislation in place to protect victims of bank transfer scams. Ministers and regulators must intervene urgently.

In the meantime, banks need to stop squabbling among themselves and work together to prevent scammers from exploiting the systems they built.

If they stopped more fraud in the first place, they wouldn’t be facing such a large refund bill.

Snappy shopping

Like so many people, I have done more of my Christmas shopping online than usual this year.

And boy am I glad I started early (for me), because emails warning of delays are arriving thick and fast. 

One said: ‘Due to nationwide demand, we are experiencing some delivery delays.’ Another blamed ‘logistical delays’ — whatever they are. In short, if you want to buy any presents online this year you need to get a wriggle on.

And if you are planning to send any gifts via the Post Office, brace yourself. The queues where I live in South London are out of control this year.

Charity cheer

Thank you for sharing all the wonderful ways you plan to support charities this Christmas. 

Money Mail reader Sue, from Skipton, North Yorkshire, will be splitting her winter fuel payment between Dogs Trust, Crisis, The Silver Line, Children With Cancer UK, a local charity and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Iris has donated her £10 Christmas bonus from the Government to two charities.

Edna, from Shropshire, adopted a tiger with WWF, a puppy called Sprout with Guide Dogs and a giraffe at Chester Zoo on behalf of her grandchildren, Orla, four, and Theo, five. 

‘The children will receive regular updates from the charities which will hopefully educate them about more important things in life,’ she says.

And David has raised more than £750 for Mind by ditching his comfy ‘working from home’ clothes for formal wear every day in December. 

He says: ‘Dressing up gives one a sense of personal pride which has proven to be good for mental wellbeing, and mental health charities need all the financial help they can get in these times.’

Keep your brilliant emails and letters coming.

v.bischoff@dailymail.co.uk

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