News Wrap - APP Scams Guidance
The Treasury Select Committee has called on financial services providers to reimburse individuals who have lost money as a result of authorised push payment (APP) fraud, with MPs telling banks that they must implement adequate fraud measures by March 2020 or face sanctions from the regulators.
For example, UK Finance, a trade association for the banking and financial services industry, reports that during the first half of 2019 close to £616 million was stolen from banking customers during financial transactions on payment cards, remote banking and cheque transactions in the UK, with £207.5 million of this defrauded through APP scams.*
What is APP fraud?
An APP scam is when a fraudster dupes a victim into making a large bank transfer into their account.
APP scammers typically pretend to be the victim's bank, building society, pension provider or other trusted organisation. They usually exert pressure, claiming that there is an urgent need for the transfer of money to occur quickly.
The scam victim then authorises the payment/transfer and the money is directed into the scammer's account.
What did the Treasury Select Committee say?
Rushanara Ali MP, led the Committee and commented, "With scams getting ever-more sophisticated, it's clear that economic crime is a serious and growing problem in the UK.
"To ensure that consumers are protected, it should now be compulsory for financial firms to reimburse money lost to victims of Authorised Push Payment fraud, and they should consider doing so retrospectively.
"There should also be a mandatory 24-hour delay on all first-time payments, allowing consumers time to consider the risk that they are being defrauded.
"The Government and regulators should take on board all of the Committee's recommendations to enhance consumer protection in the face of this harmful tide of criminal activity." **
Avoiding APP fraud
Your bank, building society or other financial institution will almost certainly be able to provide specific information about how you can avoid fraudsters. However, as a general rule of thumb you should never transfer money from your bank or building society account, expat pension fund or other cash source without first ensuring that you have verified the transaction's necessity.
Furthermore, never rely on emails, texts or unsolicited phone calls; genuine providers will never facilitate or demand a transaction via these methods and they will never ask you for your pin or identification details if they have contacted you.
Lastly, if you are an expat, you may face additional levels of uncertainty when faced with a possible APP scam. This is because, being outside of the UK, you may have additional concerns; scammers may sense this and look to exert additional pressure. You should never rush a payment; always double check the details of the request independently with your institution before making a transfer.
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*https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/system/files/Half%20year%20fraud%20update%202019%20FINAL.pdf Accessed 28-11-19
** https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/treasury-committee/news-parliament-2017/economic-crime-report-published-19-20/ Accessed 28-11-19