The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has warned banks it is “not fair” to blame customers automatically for scams they have fallen for.
In 2017, customers transferred nearly £240m to fraudsters, only a quarter of which was refunded by financial firms.
However, the growing sophistication of fraud techniques mean it is no longer reasonable for banks to refuse to refund customers on the basis of carelessness.
“Unlike most other complaints we see, complaints about fraud and scams involve – whether it’s accepted or suspected – the actions of a criminal third party,” FOS chief ombudsman Caroline Wayman said in a blog.
While people may be wiser to emails from strangers offering unexpected windfalls, the ombudsman said, fraudsters are now frequently creating fake websites which look identical to banks’ online systems or text messages which look like they’re from someone’s bank. In many cases, people are more susceptible to these techniques, it said.
Wayman added that in many cases, both the bank and their customer say “in strong terms” that they are not responsible for the losses.
“We also often hear from banks that their customers have acted with ‘gross negligence’ – and this means they’re not liable for the money their customer has lost,” she said. “However, gross negligence is more than just being careless or negligent. And as our case studies show, the evolution of criminals’ methods – in particular, their sophisticated use of technology and manipulative social engineering – means it’s an increasingly difficult case to make.”