BANKS have been failing to block payments made to scam accounts a whopping EIGHT weeks after fraud has been first reported.
HSBC and NatWest both allowed cash to be transferred from their accounts into those being run by conmen.
Getty – Contributor HSBC and NatWest allowed transfers to be made to fraudsters
This is despite customers reportedly warning the banks about these dodgy accounts two months earlier.
The news has come to light following an investigation by the Daily Mail, which made a number of £1 payments to bank accounts its readers had flagged as being operated by fraudsters.
While payments from Lloyds Bank and Santander were blocked, both HSBC and NatWest allowed transactions to go ahead.
Gareth Shaw, head of money at consumer group Which?, says it’s “alarming” that banks aren’t doing more to protect their users.
How to protect yourself from fraudstersACTION Fraud recommends taking the following advice to stay safe:
When making a purchase, be suspicious of any requests to pay by bank transfer or virtual currency instead of safer methods, such as credit card or payment services such as PayPal.
Listen to your instincts: If something feels wrong then it is usually right to question it. Don’t pay for goods or services unless you know and trust the individual or business.
Personal information obtained from data breaches is making it increasingly easier for fraudsters to create highly targeted phishing messages and calls – watch out for these.
You shouldn’t assume the caller is genuine just because they’re able to provide some basic details about you.
Always be suspicious of unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information.
He said: “It’s alarming that banks have neglected to do even the bare minimum by failing to stop payments to accounts used by scammers months after victims reported them as fraudulent.
“This worrying inaction could have left people vulnerable to falling victim and allowed fraudsters to easily re-offend.”
Bank transfer fraud has more than doubled in the past year but victims only get 20 per cent of what is stolen by fraudsters.
The Sun has reported how readers have been conned out of large amounts of cash and not seen a penny refunded, such as landscape gardener David Hunt who lost nearly £10,000 when scammers pretended to be from HMRC.
And grandmother Jo Wilson, who had her £40,000 life savings stolen by scammers posing as staff from NatWest.
Earlier this month, TSB became the first bank to promise innocent fraud victims refunds.
Other banks have been working on a voluntary code to better protect people from transfer fraud, which takes force on May 28.
But the problem with this code is its voluntary nature and the fact there’s still no agreement on how fraud victims will be reimbursed when neither themselves or their bank is to blame.
What to do if you think you’ve been scammedHERE’S what to do if you think you’ve been stung by a bank transfer scam:
Contact your bank or card provider immediately to notify them of the fraud – urgency is needed so your bank can try and trace the money and prevent any further attempts to steal your cash.
Notify crime reporting agency Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040. If Action Fraud is able to look into your case, it will provide updates on its investigation. But even simply reporting fraud may help police as part of a wider investigation.
Monitor your credit report for suspcious transactions or credit requests as fraudsters may try their luck again.
If you’re struggling to cope with being a victim of crime, contact charity Victim Support. You can do this online or by calling 0808 1689 111.
NatWest told The Sun that it couldn’t comment on the Daily Mail’s investigation as the accounts the cash was being transferred to were not held at the RBS Group.
The bank adds that it also can’t divulge any information on its fraud and scam prevention strategies.
A spokesperson simply said: “At NatWest, we take our responsibility to prevent scams very seriously. We have strict processes in place to assist our customers and when appropriate, we work with fellow banks and external bodies such as the Police and Action Fraud.”
Meanwhile HSBC said it couldn’t comment on the investigation without the permission of the customers involved.
A spokesperson said: “We adhere to best practice standards and where a report of a potentially fraudulent payment or scam is received we take appropriate and timely action.
“In some cases, the receiving banks advise that the funds had been withdrawn before we were notified by the customer, and so we could not reasonably have acted sooner.
“Protecting customers against fraud is a top priority for us, and we work with the authorities and alongside others in the industry to identify and address the ever-changing techniques used by fraudsters and to protect our customers.”
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The Daily Mail says the money was received into accounts held by APS Financial. The Sun has contacted the company but received no response at the time of writing.
APS Financial told the Daily Mail: “When alerted to fraudulent activities we’ll take appropriate action.
“Regarding the payments made by Daily Mail reporters, none of these were applied to the accounts in question, all of which are blocked.”
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