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Consumer interest group calls on watchdogs to tackle bank transfer scams

Hayley Kirton
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Almost two-thirds of people don't realise they might not be able to get their money back if they fall victim to this scam (Source: Getty)

A consumer interest group has today turned up the pressure on financial watchdogs by launching a super complaint into bank transfer scams.

Research from Which? has found three out of five (60 per cent) of people don't realise there is no consumer protection from their bank if they are fraudulently tricked into making a bank transfer.

Meanwhile, almost one in 10 (nine per cent) had either made a bank transfer to a fraudster's account or knew of somebody who had.

Which? has lodged the super complaint, which allow designated consumer organisations to complain to regulators about matters that might be concerning consumers, with the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR). It has also flagged the filing with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

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The consumer interest group, which is arguing banks have failed to keep pace with consumer protection for bank transfers in the same way they have for credit card scams, is calling on the watchdogs to release figures on how many people have been affected by such scams and how much damage has been incurred as a result.

The regulators now have 90 days to look into and respond to Which?'s concerns.

"We all now regularly use bank transfers to pay for things, but what most of us don't realise is that if you're conned into paying ​out money to ​a fraudster you stand to​ los​e​ ​all of your money​, unlike when you use your credit or debit card​," said Alex Neill, director of policy and campaigns at Which?

"With scams on the rise, consumers can only protect themselves so far​ and we believe that​ banks ​must do​ more to tackle bank transfer fraud and safeguard their customers from scams."

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The PSR confirmed it had received the super complaint and would be taking a closer look at the research from Which? as well as gathering its own, before deciding on a course of action.

Christopher Woolard, director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said: "We know that fraudsters can use sophisticated tactics, including phishing and vishing, to dupe even the most financially aware consumers. We will work together with the PSR as they investigate this super-complaint."

Consumers have developed quite an appetite for bank transfers, with over 70m now being made each month compared with just over 100m a year a decade ago. Which? also found 84 per cent of people used bank transfers to make payments.

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