Working together to tackle the causes, not just the consequences, of fraud
Robin Bulloch, Chief Executive Officer
In the three minutes it will take you to read this article, another £1,500 will have been stolen by fraudsters.
Over 53% of the cases we see at TSB are for less than £500. Our research shows that around a third of people would struggle even to put food on the table for their families if they lost that amount. Yet the organisations playing host to most scammers – social media and telecoms – continue to let fraud fester and flourish.
The UK banks as a whole reimburse just 42 per cent of the cash stolen from consumers, with most offering no clarity to customers on whether they will be reimbursed if they are scammed. People are rightly angry – and many are scared they could be next. As Which? research has shown, victims are losing more every hour to scams than the average person earns in a year.
I’m proud that TSB customers aren’t part of this lottery: in the three years since its inception, our industry leading and unique Fraud Refund Guarantee has paid out in over 90 per cent of cases. But we don’t do this because we think we should pick up the bill for criminal activity – we do it because we know our customers shouldn’t.
And so I welcome the Payment Systems Regulator recommendation that other banks are made to refund more victims and publish the rates of reimbursement. But I’m clear that refunds are a safety net, not a solution. We need to do more to strengthen consumer protection by tackling fraud at root – and thereby cut off the cashflow to serious and organised crime, which in turn hurts many more innocent people.
With more than 70% of all fraud cases now involving an online element, that means turning our focus to social media and telecoms. Parliament has a vital part to play here. Government’s changes to the Online Safety Bill to prevent social media firms profiting from fraud advertised on their platforms are an important step forward. But we can do more. Fraudsters are constantly finding new ways to cheat people.
So, as well as making sure these parts of the Online Safety Bill become law, Parliament should press for greater transparency from social media and telecoms companies. As it stands, consumers simply can’t make an informed choice on how well they are being protected – and too often underestimate how susceptible they are to becoming the victim of fraud. It really can happen to any of us.
New legislation will soon address barriers to regulators compelling banks to publish their fraud refund rates. But this is a cross-sector issue, so the same principle should be applied across the board.
Rooting out fraud requires us to work together and in unison, focused on ramping up consumer protection – across sectors, regulators, and government departments – perhaps even with a new cross-departmental ministerial role to enable it.
The scale of organisation and the speed required to slow this crime wave is enormous – but the way fraud is indiscriminately wrecking honest people’s lives is writ large in the flood of correspondence banks and parliamentarians sadly see every day.
We owe it to the victims of this despicable crime to do everything we can to put a stop to fraud, together.
 CP21/10 Authorised push payment (APP) scams consultation paper | Payment Systems Regulator (psr.org.uk)
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