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Banks accused of dragging their feet over fraud refunds

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Banks have been accused by a senior MP of “dragging their feet” when it comes to refunding victims of fraud.

Harriett Baldwin’s comments come as newly published figures name, for the first time, individual banks to show how much money they refund.

Mrs Baldwin, the Conservative chair of Parliament’s influential Treasury Committee, says banks are getting better but need to go further, faster.

Trade body UK Finance says the majority of money stolen is now refunded.

The report from the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) covers data from 2022 on authorised push payment, or APP fraud, which is when victims themselves are tricked into transferring money to criminals pretending to be from a trusted body such as banks, the police or HMRC.

In total £485.2m was stolen this way last year. Banks refunded £285.6m – around 59%.

But some performed better than others in terms of their reimbursement rate.

Of the 14 major banks or building societies covered in the report, half of them refunded less than half the money that was stolen from victims.

Way out in front at the opposite end of the table is TSB, which refunded 91% of the total value of APP fraud losses in 2022. The bank has its own Fraud Refund Guarantee, something the report specifically highlights as an innovative scheme within the industry enabling a much higher refund rate.

Likewise Nationwide, second in the chart at 78%, has its own scam checker service.

But Mrs Baldwin told Radio 4’s Money Box she wants the poorly performing banks to go further and faster in terms of increasing their refund rates.

“Clearly [the banks] have got to get better and they’re on the road to getting better, but it’s really important that this data is out there. That’s information that we didn’t have before.

“I think it’s also really important that everyone is aware that there are crooks out there trying to scam you.

“If someone who looks like they might be a member of your family or maybe someone you are romantically attached to on social media – don’t fall for the tricks and send them money. Be really careful with your own money.”

The trade body UK Finance, which represents the banks, said: “The financial services sector invests more in countering fraud than anyone else, and is the only sector that reimburses victims – even though the vast majority of authorised fraud originates on other platforms and networks.

“What [the] data from the PSR does not show is where fraud starts – 94% of authorised fraud starts online or over the phone, through social media, fake messages and more. But the technology and telecommunications sectors bear no responsibility for reimbursing victims.

“We need these sectors to do more with us to protect consumers by preventing these awful crimes from happening in the first place.”

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