Simoney Kyriakou  

Fraud victim? Too bad

Simoney Kyriakou

Simoney Kyriakou

But it is also true that when you are on the phone to a scammer, who comes across as calm, reassuring, knowledgeable, knowing details about you that only your bank would know (or so you think), it is easy to fall for the line: "That's just a standard warning, we can override this by doing XYZ."

Fraud warnings

The Financial Conduct Authority earlier this year said that 27m Britons could be classed as vulnerable. Last year it urged banks to show forbearance to people as everyone was affected by Covid-19 in one way or another.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau at the City of London Police has revealed that more than £373m was lost by repeat victims of fraud in the financial year 2019-20, with the average repeat victim losing £21,121.

Amid all the fear and panic and economic turmoil and isolation, one would have expected banks to behave as they did before – that is, accepting that the onus was not on the consumer to prove they should have known better. 

But that has all turned on its head. Now they are only paying out in exceptional circumstances.

It is heartbreaking to hear the stories of the people I've come into contact with, being told they will get nothing, or only half of what they had worked so hard to build up.

Now the banks are businesses. They are not the Salvation Army and they cannot be expected to pay out at the drop of a hat. 

If they did, this would be negligent and to the eventual detriment of all their customers. And I have a lot of sympathy for the 'caveat emptor' philosophy: sometimes you learn by being burned. But it is a horrible way to teach someone a lesson.

After all, you'd stop your child from putting their hand in a burning flame, rather than let them learn for themselves that fire will damage them, wouldn't you?

I also accept that banks have been working hard to highlight fraud and to help customers take steps to protect themselves against it.

I've witnessed an increase in two-factor authentication and greater technological advances from banks to help keep their customers safe.

But I am alarmed at the way in which many banks appear to use this as an excuse to turn their backs on some long-standing customers at this difficult time.