Bank scam victims have left thousands of pounds out of their pockets as companies pull out of paying refunds
Impeccable victims of sophisticated banking scams are getting thousands of pounds out of their pocket because of a payback ‘lottery’.
Rules introduced last May require banks to reimburse fraud victims who have taken reasonable steps to protect themselves.
Still, companies continue to struggle to pay refunds and treat customers ‘unfairly or inconsistently’, according to which?
Sam and Dave Pentin, pictured, were cheated on the sum of £ 14,200 by a fraudster posing as their lawyer. They called their bank, Lloyds, after realizing they had been scammed but not receiving a refund five months later
The consumer champion warned that banks regularly blamed customers for missing warnings and not doing enough to realize they were being scammed.
The reimbursement scheme was introduced after a major campaign by this newspaper.
It’s voluntary, but major banks including Barclays, Co-operative Bank, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Metro Bank, Nationwide, NatWest, Santander, and Starling Bank have all signed up.
Still, less than half of fraud victims – 41 percent – get their money back, according to the Payment Systems Regulator.
Victims of highly sophisticated scams, where fraudsters are able to quote financial and personal information and use manipulative tactics, will not receive a refund
In one case, a Lloyds Bank client still has £ 33,000 out of pocket after falling victim to a so-called spoofing scam, where fraudsters call or text from what appears to be a legitimate number.
Which? said the bank had told her she could not get a refund because she had not taken ‘sufficient steps’ to verify that the text message or the person she was talking to on the phone was genuine.
In another case, Nationwide initially only offered a partial refund to a customer who was scammed for £ 4,000 after its builder’s email account was hacked.
This is despite the fact that the bank admitted that it had not warned the customer sufficiently before the payment was made.
He eventually received a full refund, which one? added.
Which? said banks had unreasonable expectations of the steps customers should have taken to verify that a payment was legitimate.
‘We lost 14k in an email conference’
Sam and Dave Pentin were conned by a fraudster posing as their attorney to steal £ 14,200 deposited as surety on a property in Penryn, Cornwall.
The Pentins, both 53, received an email from an address that looked like their attorney’s address, requesting that the deposit be deposited into an HSBC account.
Mrs. Pentin said, “We saw no reason to wonder who we were communicating with.”
Realizing they had been scammed, they called their bank, Lloyds.
But five months later they had received no refunds.
After Money Mail intervened, Lloyds refunded the £ 8,024 it recovered from the HSBC account, and HSBC refunded the rest.
This means that victims of highly sophisticated scams, where fraudsters can quote financial and personal information and use manipulative tactics, will be denied a refund.
Which? added that banks were also not doing enough to protect the vulnerable.
Under the code, they are required to compensate vulnerable customers regardless of their actions.
The consumer group heard of a customer being scammed for £ 20,000 while undergoing extensive medical treatment.
Santander initially refused a refund, but the customer later received a refund.
Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, Said: “ The scam code is a milestone in the fight against fraud, but our analysis has found clear problems with how banks achieve their core objective of compensating innocent people who have lost money due to bank transfer scams.
Even as this type of crime continues to increase, the lack of fairness, consistency or transparency in the industry means that the chances of people getting their money back is often a total lottery.
‘A voluntary approach to bank transfer fraud has failed. Banks, regulators and government must work together to make the code mandatory and ensure that high standards for fees are put in place. ‘
Katy Worobec of UK Finance, who represents the banking industry, said: “We agree that a voluntary agreement alone is not enough and that new legislation is needed to address liability and reimbursement issues.
“As criminal gangs continue to target customers, the government and regulators should consider as a priority how data breaches and vulnerabilities in other industries, such as telecom and social media, facilitate these crimes, as part of an overall strategy to protect consumers from harm.”
1,000 jobs at risk as TSB adjusts cashiers amid branch closures
By Francesca Washtell City Correspondent
TSB is scrapping the traditional role of cashier in another blow to the local banking industry.
The bank’s 929 cashiers have been told they should either be retrained for a more complex role, be fired voluntarily, or lose their jobs altogether when the position is phased out in early 2021.
Cashiers perform basic banking transactions such as cashing checks and helping customers with inquiries.
TSB is scrapping the traditional role of cashier in another blow to the local banking industry
These will still be available in its 500 locations, but TSB wants employees to be able to fulfill more complex roles, such as helping customers open accounts or use digital services.
The lender has hit another nail in the cash box as he expects fewer customers to use branches for basic transactions – and he cited the Covid-19 pandemic to speed this up.
Mark Brown, the general secretary of the bank’s personnel union TBU, said: “TSB already had major cost issues and it seems they are jumping on the cart and using the pandemic as an excuse to get rid of these roles.
They don’t know if people will return to the branches once this pandemic is over. ‘
TSB’s Spanish parent company, Sabadell, said it was looking for ways to accelerate cost savings at the lender, dubbed ‘Totally Shambolic Bank’ in 2018, following a massive IT outage that left 2 million customers unable to access their online accounts.
Last November, TSB named 82 branches that would close before the end of 2020. TSB then has 454 branches and there are fears that more closures are on the way.
In the past five years, the UK has lost a third of its bank branches. And access to banking services has been made even more difficult by the pandemic, with branches shortening opening hours.
Millions of people – especially the elderly and the frail – rely on bank branches for essential services such as withdrawing cash and paying their bills.
But an additional 247 stores are expected to disappear this year, leaving customers 35 percent fewer than in 2015.
Critics claim the coronavirus has accelerated the ‘death of cash’, with many stores only accepting contactless payments.
A TSB spokesperson said: ‘Covid-19 has accelerated the use of digital services. When customers visit our facilities, their needs are often more complex and we need fully multi-skilled personnel to meet them. ‘