Meta Fraud Frustrations Grow With Latest Bank Intervention

June 15, 2023
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TSB has become the second bank in a month to criticise Meta over fraud, calling on the Facebook and Instagram owner to implement better procedures to prevent scams on its platforms.

TSB has become the second bank in a month to criticise Meta over fraud, calling on the Facebook and Instagram owner to implement better procedures to prevent scams on its platforms.

TSB chief executive Robin Bulloch has written to Meta requesting that it introduces new controls that he claims are necessary to protect UK households from fraud that originates on the bigtech’s platforms.

TSB has warned Meta that scams originating from its platforms account for 80 percent of the fraud it refunds within its three biggest fraud categories: purchase; investment; and impersonation.

Meanwhile, projections from industry data and current fraud levels show that, without the tech interventions required to protect consumers from fraud, scams originating on Meta platforms could account for up to £250m of authorised push payment losses to UK households in 2023.

Regarding its methodology, TSB told VIXIO that the findings derive from UK Finance’s Annual Fraud Report.

This was calculated on the basis that overall trends from 2021-22 flow into 2022-23 and that Meta market share remains the same, while also assuming that this share is consistent across volume and value.

This has then been compared with TSB’s own volume of Meta’s related fraud cases, against the overall industry losses — with purchase fraud at 80 percent, investment at 87 percent and impersonation at 86 percent.

In addition, TSB estimates that more than 70,000 purchase fraud cases — almost 200 a day — took place on Facebook Marketplace in 2022.

“Meta needs to face up to its responsibility" said Paul Davies, TSB’s fraud prevention director. “It has a duty of care to the millions of customers who use its platforms, which is all the more important when we see innocent people lose life-changing sums every day.

“Today, we have written to Meta demanding it puts in place the tech interventions urgently required to stem the tide of fraud and protect the many consumers who put faith in its services.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Meta told VIXIO: “This is an industry-wide issue and scammers are using increasingly sophisticated methods to defraud people in a range of ways including email, SMS and offline.

“We don’t want anyone to fall victim to these criminals which is why our platforms already have systems to block scams, financial services advertisers now have to be FCA authorised to target UK users and we run consumer awareness campaigns on how to spot fraudulent behaviour,” the spokesperson said. “People can also report this content in a few simple clicks and we work with the police to support their investigations.”

What does TSB want?

TSB has highlighted the five tech interventions Meta should take that it says would “drastically” reduce fraud.

This includes introducing a secure payment mechanism so people using Facebook Marketplace can pay for goods safely.

Currently, Facebook Marketplace transactions do not go through a recognised payments system and payments can take place directly from a victim to a fraudster.

“Providing such a platform could significantly reduce Marketplace fraud,” TSB says.

TSB has also urged Meta to stop unregulated firms in the UK from using its Facebook and Instagram platforms to advertise investments and financial products, including cryptocurrencies.

Further, the retail banking giant has advised that Meta should “issue a clear public commitment to investigating and, where confirmed, removing all content flagged as potentially fraudulent within 24 hours”, and filtering out and blocking obviously fraudulent adverts and social media posts such as those using terms such as "cash flip" or "crypto offer".

And further, TSB has said that Meta should flag to WhatsApp users when they are contacted from new numbers and warn them to check that the numbers are genuine.

TSB is not the first bank to vent its annoyance with Meta in public.

Lloyds Banking Group said last month that two-thirds of all online shopping scams now start on Facebook and Instagram, with the bank’s fraud prevention chief saying that social media has become a “wild west of online shopping”.

In the UK’s Fraud Strategy, which the Home Office published in April, the government committed to ensuring that “every part of the system is incentivised to take fraud seriously”.

For example, it is expected that the tech sector will need to put in place extra protections for their customers and introduce tough penalties for those who do not via the Online Safety Bill.

The government has also said that large tech companies will need to make it as simple as possible for users to report fraud on their platforms.

Tech companies will also be incentivised by naming and shaming work by the government, which has said that they will “shine a light” on which platforms are the safest.

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