Scammers are stealing hundreds of £millions from innocent victims every year, bombarding us with fraudulent texts, emails and calls. And not all banks are reimbursing innocent victims of scams – we’re demanding the government make it compulsory.
Demand banks protect us from scams by signing the petition.
Protect us from scams
Whether people are conned out of a few hundred pounds, or many thousands, the impact of scams can be devastating. And scammers are always looking for new ways to exploit you.
That’s why we’ve set up a new free system to protect you from scammers.
Sign-up for free Which? Scam Alerts and we’ll send you regular updates on new scams doing the rounds – so you can stay one step ahead of the scammers.
But it shouldn’t just be down to you to stop the scammers. Banks should be taking greater steps to protect you.
Scam refunds lottery
Scammers are increasingly using bank transfer scams to con victims out of their money.
£854m was stolen by scammers in the two years from July 2019 to June 2021 in bank transfer scams.
That equates to £4.7m a week or £700k a day. The problem is huge and growing.
And consumers face a lottery when it comes to their chances of being reimbursed for losses to these scams.
Only around 42% of bank transfer losses were returned to victims in the two year period.
Banks must do more
Although many banks have signed-up to a voluntary code whereby they promise to offer refunds to innocent victims of transfer scams, they are not legally obliged to do so.
The low levels of reimbursement show banks often aren’t always following the voluntary code.
This isn’t good enough.
We want reimbursement for innocent victims of transfer scams to be mandatory – because, despite the voluntary code, banks have all too often continued to blame their customers when they’ve been scammed.
We also want all banks to have to publish data showing how they treat their customers when they fall victim to transfer scams.
The government must introduce promised legislation that will make it mandatory for banks to reimburse innocent victims of bank transfer scams.
Agree? Sign the petition.
See our progress
Our campaign has come a long way since 2015 – here’s how we’re doing.
11th May 2022
The Financial Services and Markets Bill includes measures to better protect scam victims
The bill includes measures to better protect scam victims, by making sure they are reimbursed if they are tricked into transferring money to a fraudster. Which? has been campaigning for the government to stamp out scams since 2015; and in January this year, we reiterated our call for stronger protections for fraud victims after finding more than £700,000 is lost to bank transfer scams every day.
Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said:
“Which? started the campaign for victims of bank transfer scams with a super-complaint more than five years ago, and welcomes a Bill to enable mandatory reimbursement of APP victims when they are not at fault.
“Scam victims currently face a reimbursement lottery depending on who they bank with, so the regulator must now be ready to ensure firms treat their customers consistently and fairly, with tough enforcement for those that break the rules.”
Pressure grows on government to make refunds to scam victims mandatory
The Government should urgently legislate to make it mandatory for banks to reimburse victims of bank transfer scams, the Treasury Select Committee has said.
The call to make refunds compulsory comes in the committee’s Economic Crime inquiry report.
The report says:
“We recommend that the Government urgently legislates to give the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) powers to make reimbursement mandatory, and that the PSR then take rapid action to protect consumers.
“We recommend that the PSR and Treasury accelerate their consultation processes to enable quicker implementation of measures to protect consumers from fraud.”
The report adds clout to our repeated calls on the government to legislate to make reimbursements to victims of bank transfer scams mandatory for banks.
Currently, banks have no legal obligation to provide refunds to innocent victims of bank transfer scams.
18th November 2021
Government commits to mandatory scam victim refunds
The Government has committed to making reimbursement mandatory for scam victims.
The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) announced today that the Treasury will make the necessary legislative changes to provide for mandatory reimbursement for scam victims.
Furthermore, following our campaigning on the issue, banks will in the future have to publish figures on how much money their customers are losing to APP scams – which will make it easier for banks to be held to account.
In the first six months of the year, individuals and businesses lost a staggering £355m to APP scams – where they are tricked into sending money to an account controlled by a fraudster – topping card fraud for the first time.
Which? demands regulator do more to protect scam victims
The Treasury Select Committee today heard evidence from Which? as to why the banking regulator must do more to protect victims of bank transfer scams.
Rich Piggin, Head of External Affairs at Which? told the Committee that £700,000 is lost to bank transfer scams every single day and banks are routinely dodging their responsibilities under the current industry code that should guarantee refunds to victims of this crime.
The regulator is even considering scrapping the existing code and letting the banks write their own rules. We’re arguing that this is completely unacceptable.
We submitted a in-depth report to the Lending Standards Board, sharing the experiences of consumers who have lost £ millions to authorised push payment (APP) scams.
We’re demanding more is done to prevent consumers falling victim to these APP scams – requesting a review of the voluntary code that is supposed to protect consumers, but that is failing many in reality.
Watch out: banks are denying refunds to some scam victims
Banks are shifting responsibility onto customers to avoid paying out for bank transfer fraud, a Which? Money investigation has found.
Which? Money has found that the way banks treat victims continues to be a lottery, despite the introduction of new industry standards.
The voluntary Contingent Reimbursement Model code, in place since May 2019, marked a breakthrough in protection for victims of bank transfer or authorised push payment (APP) fraud. It compels banks to reimburse blameless victims, as they do for fraud that’s related to card payments and direct debits.
Yet early signs suggest that banks are shifting responsibility onto customers, by refusing to cover losses on the basis that they show fraud warnings at the point of payment.
People tricked into sending their life savings to fraudsters could see their money reimbursed from today, as a new voluntary code comes into effect. Most major banks have signed up to the code, but a few are yet to do so.
In the last year alone, victims have lost a total of £354m – that’s approximately £674 every minute – to scammers in bank transfer scams, with most of it stolen from personal accounts.
But, thanks to our campaigning, a new code promising refunds for victims of these scams comes into effect today.
Earlier this year, the banking industry introduced a new voluntary code that would offer increased protection from scammers, including reimbursement to blameless victims. The move came two years after Which? launched a super-complaint to push banks and regulators to better protect people who lose money to bank transfer scams.
This new code comes into effect today, but not everyone will be protected as some banks have not signed up.
Gareth Shaw, head of Money at Which?, said:
‘Three years after Which? launched a super-complaint highlighting the devastating impact of bank transfer fraud, it’s good that consumers are finally getting greater protections and many should be spared from losing life-changing sums of money.
‘The code will be judged a success if it halts this worsening crime and results in all blameless victims being fairly and swiftly reimbursed – and we want to see all remaining banks signing up as a bare minimum to reassure their customers that they will be protected.
‘Banks must now ensure vital name check security measures are introduced on time and quickly agree long-term funding plans for all reimbursements – as there can never be a return to the dark days of banks turning away the victims of this ruinous crime.’
Win! Transfer scam victims will be refunded from May
Almost £400m has been lost to bank transfer fraud in the past two years – but today, 5 major banks have signed up to a new code that ensures refunds for victims. Thousands of victims of bank transfer scams, who’ve lost almost £400m over the past two years to fraudsters, will receive refunds under new plans announced today.
So far, five major banks have signed up to a new code that seeks to protect customers from scams: Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC, Metro Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland. These banks will begin a new reimbursement scheme for customers who have lost money through bank transfer scams on 28 May this year.
The new code requires banks, building societies and other payment services providers to put more measures in place to protect customers from bank transfer fraud – and, crucially, enables victims of this type of scam to get their losses refunded by their bank if they have done nothing wrong. But the code is only voluntary.
But there’s more work to be done on the banks who haven’t signed the code. We’ll be turning up the pressure on all banks in the coming months to sign up to code and protect their customers.
In a huge win for our campaign, banks have finally agreed to refund victims of bank transfer scams. Banks had previously refused to refund victims of ‘Authorised push payment’ (APP) scams, where you’re tricked into authorising a bank transfer to a criminal – who will often be posing as your bank, solicitor or even your builder.
And the scale of the problem is huge. £145m was stolen through APP fraud in the first half of 2018 alone, of which just £31m – less than 22% – was ever recovered from the criminals’ accounts.
But now thanks to the support of over 400,000 backers of our campaign, a coalition of banks has agreed to set up a fund that will ensure victims of this type of fraud receive the refunds they deserve.
Gareth Shaw, Head of Which? Money online said:
‘This long-awaited move to ensure victims of bank transfer scams are properly reimbursed when neither they nor the bank is at fault is a major victory for consumers.
‘The banks must now act to ensure this scheme is implemented as swiftly as possible so consumers can have confidence that losing life-changing sums of money to this type of fraud is a thing of the past.’
Fraud victims have lost more than £145m so far this year to the scam that leaves them with no legal way of getting their money back.
According to a report from UK Finance, just 20% of these losses have been recovered. There were around 34,000 cases of ‘authorised payment fraud’ in the first six months of the year, with losses averaging at around £4,260.
Details of a reimbursement scheme are due to be published this week, but under proposals, victims would be entitled to a refund from their bank in certain circumstances.
Gareth, Shaw, Head of Which? Money Online said:
“It’s now two years since our super-complaint highlighted the lack of protection for victims of bank transfer scams, but these shocking figures show just how widespread the problem still is. Banks’ efforts to date have been woefully insufficient and they have not done enough to protect their customers, who continue to lose life-changing sums of money to ever-more sophisticated crooks. The Payment Systems Regulator has rightly committed to introducing a reimbursement scheme for victims. It’s about time that banks step up and properly compensate customers who have lost money through no fault of their own.”
16th May 2017
Banks leave customers exposed to bank transfer scams
Our latest research has found that banks are still leaving their customers exposed to bank transfer scams.
It’s been eight months since we first raised the alarm to the threat of bank transfer scams and made our super-complaint to the financial regulator calling for urgent action from the industry.
The financial regulator investigated and agreed that banks could be doing more. Yet five months on there’s little evidence of significant progress from the industry as people are still losing life changing sums of money.
Our latest research has found that one in 10 people in the UK had made a bank transfer, or knew someone that had made a payment, that later turned out to be to a fraudster. And of those people who had lost money to bank transfer scams, more than half had been victims in the last six months.
Gareth Shaw, money expert at Which?, said:
‘Despite the fact that consumers are still losing life-changing sums of money to fraudsters it’s not clear what meaningful action the banks have taken to protect their customers.
‘People assume that banks will look after them and their money. So it’s vital that the industry, regulator and next government act quickly and decisively to tackle financial fraud. Failure to do so will continue to leave consumers paying the price.’
Tackling financial fraud and scams must be a top priority for the next government. We need the next government to set out an ambitious plan to ensure that financial institutions do more to protect their customers from bank transfer scams.
Today Which? launched a super-complaint to the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR). We are demanding that banks protect people from losing money when they have been tricked into making a bank transfer to a fraudster.
Which? can use unique legal powers to request the regulator look at any feature of a market which appears to damage people’s interests. The term for this is ‘making a super-complaint’. Regulators have 90 days to investigate and respond to Which?’s concerns.
This is important in the case of bank transfers because there is an unfair loophole. We are generally well-protected against fraud via direct debit, credit card and debit card. But banks don’t have to refund money lost to scammers via bank transfers.
We think the banks should make sure their systems for protecting people are updated in line with the way bank transfers have developed for faster and larger payments.This is a difficult and complex issue, which is why the PSR needs to take action.
We want the PSR, working with the Financial Conduct Authority, to:
Formally investigate the scale of bank transfer fraud and how much it is costing people;
Take action and propose new measures and greater liability for banks to ensure people are better protected when they have been tricked into making a bank transfer.
Alex Neill, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Which? said:
“We all now regularly use bank transfers to pay for things, but what most of us don’t realise is that if you’re conned into paying out money to a fraudster you stand to lose all of your money, unlike when you use your credit or debit card.
“With scams on the rise, consumers can only protect themselves so far and we believe that banks must do more to tackle bank transfer fraud and safeguard their customers from scams.”
Fraud is now officially the most common crime people are likely to fall victim to, according to new figures revealed today.
In the most authoritative official estimate of the scale of the offences, new Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures unearth an estimated 3.8 million cases of fraud and two million computer misuse offences. This suggests the overall crime rate could be almost double the level previously reported.
When we recently carried out our own research into email scams we asked over 1,000 members of the public if they could spot the difference between real and spoof emails, we found that many people were fooled by more sophisticated scams.
Today’s ONS findings reveal that people are 20 times more likely to become a victim of fraud than they are of robbery.
The ONS found that bank and credit account fraud were found to be the most common crimes committed, with 2.5 million incidents, followed by ’non-investment‘ fraud, such as scams related to online shopping.
Fraud costs the British public £9bn annually and is hugely under-reported. While there are sensible steps we can take to protect ourselves, we feel that an unfair burden has been placed on the public.
Our Director of Policy and Campaigns, Alex Neill said:
‘For the first time, the shocking scale of people hit by cybercrime and fraud has been revealed.
‘With cybercrime becoming increasingly sophisticated, even the savviest people can be scammed, so it’s vital that businesses up their game in the fight against fraud.’
‘The new Home Secretary must ensure that the government’s Joint Fraud Taskforce investigates whether businesses are taking enough responsibility when their customers are defrauded.’