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Raw Deal: Bank transfer fraud victims face lottery to get their money back

© Dominic Lipinski/PA WireOfficers are investigating 19 cases that have taken place since last July conning people through emails, phone calls or text messages in scams known as phishing, vishing and smishing. (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

Bank transfer fraud victims are facing a lottery trying to get their money back, a new report reveals.

Last year, some of Britain’s biggest banks and building societies signed up to a voluntary code setting standards for handling cases of authorised push payment (APP) fraud.

But although this code has led to more innocent people getting their money back, a new study by Which? suggests banks are relying too heavily on fraud warnings, are placing unreasonable expectations on victims, and are failing to properly assess vulnerability.

The consumer group is now pressing for the voluntary code to be made mandatory, and says the number of people being reimbursed by their bank is “woefully low”.

Fraud in the payments industry has soared in recent years, with a big increase in APP scams. This is where email accounts are hacked in order to trick people into sending money to bank accounts operated by criminals.

Many people have had large sums of cash stolen. Which? says, however, that many victims have been treated unfairly or inconsistently by banks when trying to recover their cash, and that the voluntary approach has failed.

Its investigation found some banks were “regularly blaming customers for missing warnings or not doing enough to realise they were being scammed” and consequently denying people reimbursement.

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, said: “The lack of fairness, consistency or transparency across the industry means the chances of people getting their money back is often a total lottery.

“A voluntary approach to tackling bank transfer fraud has failed. Banks, regulators and government must work together to make the code mandatory and ensure that strong standards on reimbursement are introduced.”