Bank staff save fraud victims £38m

Written by Oliver Wade

A new rapid response scheme developed by banks in collaboration with police forces prevented fraud victims from being scammed out of £38m in 2018, according to new figures published by UK Finance.

The Banking Protocol trains bank staff to identify when someone is about to fall victim to a scam, and attempts to prevent them from withdrawing cash to give to a fraudster, after which they can request an immediate police response to the branch.

In 2018, a total of 231 arrests and 4,240 emergency calls were made through the industry-wide initiative, with an average of £8,960 being saved per call.
Since the introduction of the initiative in October 2016, it has prevented £48m of fraud and led to 408 arrests, the figures revealed.

In November 2018 alone, £4.5m was saved through the scheme, the highest monthly total to date, highlighting that adoption of the initiative is growing. Furthermore, the data illustrated that fraudsters are targeting more elderly victims with these types of scams, as they average age of a customer saved by the Banking Protocol last year was 71.

Over 50 payment service providers, including all of the main high street banks and the Post Office, are now fully signed up to the Banking Protocol and have trained their front-line branch staff in the steps that need to be taken when a customer is at risk. Since March last year, the scheme has been implemented by all 45 polices forces across the UK.

Commenting on the figures, UK Finance managing director of economic crime Katy Worobec said: “Bank branch staff are on the front line in the fight against fraud, as increasingly sophisticated gangs target consumers directly and trick them into withdrawing large sums of cash.

“This rapid response scheme is giving bank staff the tools they need to protect vulnerable customers from scams, while helping local police catch fraudsters and bring them to justice.

“The banking industry will keep taking action on all fronts to combat fraud, working closely with our partners in law enforcement to crack down on the criminal gangs responsible.”

City of London Police economic crime directorate head Commander Karen Baxter added: “The scale and borderless nature of fraud means we need to find new and innovative ways to protect the public and deter criminals.

“The Banking Protocol is a key example of this and shows how partnerships between policing and the private sector are being used to protect the public from falling victim to fraud.”

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