Banks warn of big increase in online scams
- By Tom Gerken
- Technology reporter
5 May 2023
Banks have warned of a large increase in fraud in 2022, with much of this originating online.
Barclays told the BBC that 77% of scams are now happening on social media, online marketplaces and dating apps.
TSB said a large increase in cases of impersonation, investment and purchase fraud were the main drivers of this.
It found impersonation scams on WhatsApp had tripled in a year, while fake listings on Facebook Marketplace had doubled.
And it said there have been "huge fraud spikes" on platforms owned by Meta, such as WhatsApp and Facebook.
A spokesperson for Meta told the BBC it believes fraud is "an industry-wide issue".
"Scammers are using increasingly sophisticated methods to defraud people in a range of ways, including email, SMS and offline," they said.
"We don't want anyone to fall victim to these criminals, which is why our platforms have systems to block scams, financial services advertisers now have to be FCA (Financial Conduct Authority)-authorised and we run consumer awareness campaigns on how to spot fraudulent behaviour."
[Latest] Banks warn of big increase in online scams
'Epidemic of scams'
Liz Ziegler, Lloyds Banking Group's fraud prevention director, told the BBC banks are facing an "epidemic of scams".
"With more than 70% of fraud starting with contact through the main tech platforms, these companies must be held responsible for stopping scams at source and putting things right for innocent victims," she said.
Previously, NatWest chief executive Alison Rose told a Treasury Select Committee that three million people in the UK were victims of fraud in 2022.
"We have seen an 87% increase in fraud," she said, adding that NatWest estimated 60% of frauds originated on social media and technology platforms.
Meanwhile, TSB said 60% of purchase fraud cases of which it is aware - where a scammer sells an item they never intend to send to the buyer - happen on Facebook Marketplace, and two-thirds of impersonation fraud cases it sees are happening on WhatsApp,
The bank says it issued 2,650 refunds covering these cases last year.
Paul Davis, TSB's director of fraud prevention, said he believed social media companies "must urgently clean up their platforms" to protect consumers.
"It's high time that social media and telephone companies took financial liability for the rising levels of fraud taking place on their platforms," he said.
According to the most recent figures from UK Finance, which represents the banking and finance sector, 56% of the total amount lost to scams was returned to customers in the first half of 2022.
Many banks, including NatWest, Lloyds and Barclays, are signed up to the Contingent Reimbursement Model Code, which aims to reimburse people if they fall victim to an Authorised Push Payment (APP) scam "and have acted appropriately".
An APP scam is where a person is tricked into transferring money into an account operated by a fraudster.
But TSB says it reimburses people in 97% of all fraud cases it sees, and is campaigning for others to follow suit.
Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at consumer group Which?, said the statistics "expose the worrying scale" of fraud on social media.
"The Online Safety Bill has been going through Parliament for more than a year and progress has been much too slow, with people still being scammed every day," she said.
"The government must take a vital step in the fight against fraud by ensuring the bill includes the strongest possible protections for consumers and is passed into law without further delays."