Unfortunately there will be always be thousands of scams doing the rounds, so it is inevitable that many people will fall victim to a scam at some stage, and perhaps on more than one occasion.
Consumers lose more than £1bn per year to fraud, £300 million of which consumers send voluntarily after being tricked into transferring cash (known as an authorised push payment scam). However, when this happens, there is a remedy which many do not seem to be aware of, namely, a voluntary code which most of the major banks signed up to in May 2019. Here is what you need to know:
The code of practice deals with the situation where the customer authorises, and therefore makes the cash transfer, where they have fallen victim to a scam. Under the code, customers who fall victim will be reimbursed their money if:
i) their bank has volunteered to be part of the scheme; and
- have not ignored warnings about scams when setting up and amending payees, or before making a payment;
- took care to establish that the person they were sending money to was legitimate;
- were not ‘grossly negligent’ (there is no definition of this); and
- did not act dishonestly when the scam was reported.
There is now an additional security layer, called ‘Confirmation of payee’, which has been launched to combat this type of fraud. Banks are carrying out a check which matches the name of the recipient of the funds, to their account details, to ensure that the recipient of any payment is exactly who the customer intends them to be.
Whilst the scheme is voluntary, most of the banks participate, including:
- Bank of Scotland
- Co-op Bank
- First Direct
- Intelligent Finance
- Lloyds Banking Group
- M&S Bank
- Metro Bank
- Nationwide Building Society
- Royal Bank of Scotland
- Starling Bank
- Ulster Bank.
Jenny from East London transferred £3500 to a plumber for a new boiler. It was only when the plumber chased her for payment that she discovered that the money had been paid to a fraudster. It transpired that the plumber’s email had been hacked, and the fraudster had intercepted emails to Jenny, and changed the bank details. I advised Jenny to contact her bank, which she did, and she has now got her money back.
Paul from Leicester received a call from a fraudster claiming to be from his energy provider. The caller informed Paul that he was £475 in arrears, and that he would be cut off if he did not make a payment. Paul disputed this, but he was advised to make the payment and to then raise the dispute in writing. Paul transferred the money into the account from the details he was given over the phone, but only discovered he had scammed once he had put his complaint in writing. I advised him to contact his bank and he has now been reimbursed.
Getting a refund
Firstly, you need to act as soon as you discover the fraud, as the longer you leave it, the more likely the bank will find an excuse to refuse to refund you.
Upon discovering the fraud, send the bank a letter (see Template below) setting out:
- Why you sent the money (i.e. details of the scam);
- How much you sent, and when; and
- Details of the recipient.
How long will it take to be reimbursed?
Your bank has an obligation to inform you of its decision, as to whether to reimburse you, within 15 business days of you reporting the matter. Note: your bank can request up to 35 business days to investigate the fraud if the matter is complex.
Appealing a negative decision
If the bank rejects your claim, the next step will be to lodge a claim with the Financial Ombudsman Service. Click here to progress a financial ombudsman claim: https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/consumers/how-to-complain
I have set out below a template letter to send to your bank after a fraudster has conned you into making a money transfer.
You will see that there are square brackets in certain places in the template. This indicates that you need to add information specific to your case (such as a date).
You simply need to cut and paste the template text below into a Word document.
Account name: [ ] Account no: [ ] Sort code: [ ] (“the Account”) Fraudulent transfer – request for reimbursement
I have been the victim of a fraud, and write to request that the bank reimburses the sum of £[ ], which I was fraudulently enticed into sending to the fraudster.
Details of the fraud
On [date] I was contacted by an individual, who introduced himself/herself as [name], and who purported to [what did they say i.e. “be from HMRC”].
[explain what the fraudster told you, and that they asked you to send money].
I have not seen any warnings issued by the bank, which would have highlighted that this was potentially a fraud. I also believe that I acted responsibly, and there was nothing further that I could have done to establish that I was dealing with a professional fraudster.
Details of the transfer
The transfer was in the sum of £[ ], and was made on [date], to the following payee:
Please can you reimburse the above funds to me.
I look forward to hearing from you
You should not need any legal assistance with making your claim, but if you decide that you would like legal assistance, Consumer Law Claims can provide help for a low fixed fee: