MSE News

Victims of bank transfer scams could be left unprotected from 1 Jan

Banks can't agree how to refund blameless bank transfer victims, it has emerged.

Pay.UK, the UK's payment scheme operator, has concluded there is "no industry consensus" on how a central kitty to reimburse innocent victims of authorised push payment (APP) fraud should be funded.

It had consulted on how the scheme to reimburse victims could be funded, but has today said despite there being overwhelming agreement that customers should be reimbursed in a "no-blame" scenario, there's no agreement on how this should be done in the future.

The current funding agreement ends on 31 December

Back in May, UK banks agreed to set up a voluntary code which states that victims of APP scams should be reimbursed unless they ignored their bank's warnings about the scam or were "grossly negligent" in transferring the money.

If a customer loses money to a scam and the bank is to blame, the bank refunds the customer from its own funds. If neither the bank nor victim are to blame, the victim is refunded from a no-blame fund, but the funding deal for this expires on Tuesday 31 December.

It's not yet clear what will happen after this. The Payment Systems Regulator says that banks will still be able to refund victims if they choose to do so, and that it expects the banking industry to put arrangements in place to provide protection to their customers.

For full information on the code, see our MSE News story Victim of a money transfer scam? You now have new rights with most banks from earlier this year.

What is an authorised push payment scam?

APP scams occur when someone transfers money from their own bank account to one belonging to a criminal. The lost money is then transferred to numerous other accounts, often abroad, and withdrawn by the crooks.

Figures released by trade association UK Finance last year show that in the first half of 2018, consumers lost £92.9 million because of this type of fraud.

How to avoid being a victim – what to watch out for

Earlier this year, UK Finance worked with the Government to produce helpsheets and a website to try to prevent people falling victim to this kind of scam. Here are a few of its tips:

  • Remember that just because someone knows some personal details – such as your name and address or your mother's maiden name – that doesn't mean they are genuine.

  • Banks or trusted organisations such as the police will NEVER contact you asking you to give your PIN or full password, or to transfer money to another account.

  • Always question uninvited approaches asking for information – they could be scams. Instead, contact the company directly using a trusted email or phone number to check the request is genuine.

  • Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

See our 30+ Ways to Stop Scams guide for more help.

What do banks say?

Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance (which represents UK banks), said: "There is strong agreement across the sector that we must all work together to create a central, long-term, sustainable funding system to compensate the victims of scams in 'no blame' situations under the voluntary industry code introduced in May.

"UK Finance and the industry have been working closely with consumer groups to find a solution to this issue and to ensure that the cost of payment frauds are met by all those responsible, both within and outside the payments industry.

"We are therefore disappointed a way forward has not yet been agreed."

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