Money

From NatWest to Halifax, how well big banks are protecting customers from scams


BANKS are being accused of failing to protect customers from scams – then not reimbursing them.

Each year, tens of thousands of us are duped into transferring huge sums to crooks posing as cops, bank staff or BT call workers.

 Some banks have refused to reimburse customers who've fallen victim to scams, Which? warns

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Some banks have refused to reimburse customers who’ve fallen victim to scams, Which? warnsCredit: Alamy

Most big banks signed up to a new code where “blameless” customers targeted by so-called “authorised push-payment” (APP) scams are reimbursed.

But some have refused to pay, claiming victims ignored warnings, says consumer group Which?

Research by Sun Money found these warnings – displayed in online banking – can be easily missed so are no excuse for not paying.

We test how well the banks are protecting us, or not, and rate them out of five.

NatWest

 NatWest says it never uses warnings as a justification to not refund a customer
NatWest says it never uses warnings as a justification to not refund a customer

CLICKING on the “Payments and transfers” tab to make a new payment, there is no warning on the first page you land on.

You then click on “Pay someone new” and there is a scam warning with two graphics designed to make you pause. It would be better at the top of the page, as you have to scroll down to read it. You have to click a box to say you understand the advice. That’s good to get people thinking. But the warning is generic.

NatWest insisted it has never used its warnings as reason not to refund.

Rating: 3/5

HSBC

 HSBC's fraud warning is small and the same colour as other text on the page - so easy to miss
HSBC’s fraud warning is small and the same colour as other text on the page – so easy to miss

A THREE-line fraud warning is displayed on top of your account information when you go to transfer money.

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But the print is small and the same colour as other text on the page – so easy to miss.

Also, it is a generic warning and does not ask you what you are transferring the cash for.

You can hide a warning if you do not want to see it, which might make customers feel it is unimportant. But as HSBC points out, you also see a fraud alert when you generate a secure code on your mobile phone as you add a new payee.

Rating: 2/5

Halifax

 Halifax had no scam warning when we did the test
Halifax had no scam warning when we did the test

NO scam warning when we did the test, other than where the bank said it would not check the name on the account we were paying into.

Halifax told us scam warnings are shown only if the bank thinks a transaction may be risky.

It may include security questions asking what customers are transferring money for and reminding them the bank will never contact them to ask them to transfer money to a “safe” account.

Lloyds and Halifax are sister banks and have the same system.

Rating: 0/5

Nationwide

 Nationwide has a 'stop and think' prompt as you go to pay someone new

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Nationwide has a ‘stop and think’ prompt as you go to pay someone new

A GOOD idea here – as you go to pay someone new, you get a “Stop and think” prompt where you have to say what the payment is for, such as a friend, an account of yours, paying a bill or an investment.

Whatever you choose, you are given warning signs for scams associated with this kind of payment. There is also a “Stop Now” button for those worried about scams. But the print could be bigger.

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There are further warnings as you go through the process – but the interface is dated, with small print and no graphics.

Rating: 4/5

Santander

 Santander have a good process to prevent their customers being scammed

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Santander have a good process to prevent their customers being scammed

THIS seems robust. There is a graphic of a fraud victim on the log-in page, which gets you thinking about scams.

When starting the money-transfer process, you are asked to specify the purpose of your payment.

Based on your answer, you get advice on what might be a scam.

There is also a box which warns you again about fraud and asks you to tick a further box saying that you have been made aware of the scam advice.

A good process.

Rating: 5/5

Barclays

 Barclays makes you tick a box to continue the payment

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Barclays makes you tick a box to continue the payment

ON the page to add a new payee, the bank asks: ”Could this be a scam? If someone else has asked or pressured you to make this payment online, such as through a social media or dating site, then you should take time to think about it before sending the payment.”

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You need to tick a box below the warning to continue, so you need to at least scroll by it.

To confirm a new payee, your card security code and expiry date are needed too. These don’t directly stop people paying a crook but they slow the process and allow potential victims more time to think.

Rating: 3.5/5

What banks could be doing to warn customers

  • Ask you to identify the type of payment you are making so that they can give tailored fraud warnings.
  • Use noticeable warnings in big text positioned prominently on the bank’s transfer pages
  • Include graphics and pictures with warnings because they are easier for people to process than words.
  • Have a box that you must actively click to show you have understood the scam advice given.
  • Do not allow people to hide warnings.





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