Riskiest payments should be slowed to stop fraud, says Nationwide

  • In Business
  • 2021-09-26 23:06:34Z
  • By BBC
Older man checking computer
Older man checking computer  

The clearance of payments considered to be risky should be slowed down to tackle the "epidemic" of fraud, says Nationwide's economic crime director.

Stuart Skinner said there should be more "friction" in the payments system to prevent money getting into fraudsters' hands.

The move would require an overhaul of the UK's payments system which is designed for customer convenience.

His comments come as Nationwide launches a new fraud checking hotline.

The building society said it had seen fraud rise broadly in line with the average across the sector. The latest figures, published last week, revealed that total fraud losses were up 30% in the first half of the year, compared with the same period in 2020.

Fraudsters are stealing more than £4m every day on average in the UK.

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Fraud committed when individuals are tricked into handing over money and personal details surged by 71% compared with the first six months of last year. Less than half of the money lost in these cases was refunded by banks.

This is known as authorised push payment fraud and it often occurs when people transfer money to the account of a fraudster posing as someone from a trusted organisation, a bank, or the police.

Mr Skinner said that instead of allowing all payments to be processed and enter the payee's account often within minutes, the relatively few more risky looking transfers should be checked at a slower speed.

Checking service

On Monday, Nationwide is launching a new scam checker service for its customers.

The building society has set up a new, 24-hour hotline for customers who want advice about whether they are at risk of being defrauded.

The aim is to ensure people stop and check with an expert before making a payment. If customers are given the all-clear but the transfer is subsequently found to be a scam, the Nationwide said it would guarantee a refund.

If someone ignores the advice, and is subsequently defrauded, any chance of reimbursement would be judged - as it normally is - on industry-agreed standards. That means they are not guaranteed to get their money back although there is some leeway for vulnerable people.


Joe Garner, Nationwide chief executive, said: "Success is not just ensuring victims are reimbursed - but also preventing these crimes happening in the first place."

Jenny Ross, editor of Which? Money, said: "Fraud can have a devastating financial and emotional impact on victims, so it's positive to see Nationwide trying to take steps to prevent their customers from falling victim to bank transfer scams.

"However, the onus is still on consumers to spot a possible scam and we know criminals use very sophisticated tactics to trick victims and ensure they don't contact or even trust their bank. It's not clear how much additional protection this new service offers and how effective it will be."

The banking sector and police's efforts in stopping the rising tide of fraud will soon come under the microscope, with ministers promising an overhaul in the fight against fraud.


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