worobec katy

Banks and card companies in the UK prevented more than £1.4 billion in unauthorised financial fraud last year, newly-released figures have revealed.

Overall, £2 in every £3 of attempted unauthorised fraud is stopped, according to UK Finance, with combined losses down 5% to £731.8 million last year.

There were more than 1.9 million reported cases of unauthorised financial fraud, a rise of 3% compared to the year before.

Losses due to unauthorised transactions on payment cards fell 8% year-on-year to £566 million. The industry helped prevent £984.9 million in attempted unauthorised card fraud.

Losses due to unauthorised remote banking fraud totalled £156.1 million, a 14% rise on 2016. Banks prevented £261.4 million of unauthorised remote banking fraud, 27% more than last year.

Cheque fraud losses fell 28% in 2017 to £9.8 million, the lowest annual total on record. £212.3 million of attempted unauthorised cheque fraud was prevented.

For the first time, annual data on losses due to authorised push payment scams (also known as APP or authorised bank transfer scams) has also been collated.

Push payment scams are based around a criminal impersonating a person or business to divert funds from a genuine recipient to the criminal’s bank account.

There were 43,875 reported cases of authorised push payment scams with a total value of £236 million. Overall, 88% of the losses affecting retail consumers, who lost an average of £2,784. The remainder were businesses who lost on average £24,355 per case.  

Financial providers were able to return £60.8 million (26%) of the authorised push payment scam losses in 2017.

UK Finance has called for new information sharing powers to combat fraud.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “Fraud is an issue that affects the whole of society, and one which everyone must come together to tackle.

“The finance industry is committed to playing its part – investing in advanced security systems to protect customers, introducing new standards on how banks respond to scam victims, and working with the Joint Fraud Taskforce to deter and disrupt criminals and better trace, freeze and return stolen funds.

“We are also supporting the Payment Systems Regulator on its complex work on authorised push payment scams, providing the secretariat for its new steering group. It’s a challenging timetable, but it is important that we get it right to stop financial crime and for the benefit of customers.”

The finance industry is responding to the ongoing threat of all types of fraud and scams through a range of initiatives, including raising awareness of how to stay safe through the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, in conjunction with the Home Office.

Tony Blake, senior fraud prevention officer at the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit, said: “With criminals using social engineering to target people and businesses directly, it’s vital that everyone follows the advice of the Take Five campaign. Always stop and think if you are ever asked for your personal or financial details. Remember, no bank or genuine organisation will ever contact you out of the blue and ask you to transfer money to another account.”

UK Finance is a new trade association which was formed on July 1, 2017 to represent the finance and banking industry operating in the UK. It brings together most of the activities previously carried out by the Asset Based Finance Association, the British Bankers’ Association, the Council of Mortgage Lenders, Financial Fraud Action UK, Payments UK and the UK Cards Association.