Fraud attacks on consumers are ‘national security threat’, say UK banks


UK banks have warned that the rise in the number of consumer fraud attacks during the coronavirus pandemic is becoming a “national security threat”.

Roughly GBP754mln has been stolen by criminals through bank frauds in the first six months of 2021, up 30% on the same period last year, according to a report by banking industry lobby group UK Finance.

Levels of fraud have risen during the pandemic as more consumers were forced to shop online and try digital banking and investing.

Banks are calling for the government to coordinate a plan to help prevent fraud, starting with tweaks to the planned Online Safety Bill, which currently has nothing to prevent dodgy online advertisements.

“The level of fraud in the UK is such that it is now a national security threat,” Katy Worobec, managing director for economic crime at UK Finance said. “The banking sector cannot solve this on its own.”

One of the fastest-growing bank fraud attacks are via authorised push payments (APPs), where tricksters lure people into making a payment. Rising 71% this year, APP attacks are now more common than card fraud, UK Finance said.

Other research, from the consumer group Which?, estimated that GBP2.3bn was lost by UK consumers last year through online scams, much of which coming through social media.

A coalition of finance groups recently called for the government to add scope to improve policing of paid-for online adverts in the Online Safety Bill.

Also on Wednesday, MPs in the Treasury Select Committee are grilling bosses from Facebook, Google, Amazon and eBay about whether companies are doing enough to prevent financial fraud.

“We know financial fraud is a huge growth area and we know it’s inadequately policed,” said committee member and Labour MP, Siobhain McDonagh.

“Social media companies earn a lot of money by offering fraudulent deals and seem to have no consequences for doing it. The lack of real muscle put into detecting financial fraud and scamming threatens our reputation as a country.”


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