UK’s Rapid Scam Response Scheme Prevents Over £200m In Attempted Fraud

April 4, 2022
UK Finance has said that its Banking Protocol rapid scam response scheme has prevented tens of thousands of people from becoming victims of fraud since 2016.

UK Finance has said that its Banking Protocol rapid scam response scheme has prevented tens of thousands of people from becoming victims of fraud since 2016.

UK Finance, a financial services body, has published new data on the success of its Banking Protocol rapid scam response scheme designed to protect consumers from fraud.

Since 2016, when the scheme was launched, branch staff at banks, building societies and Post Offices have prevented £202.8m in would-be fraud.

In 2021 alone, £60.7m in fraud was prevented through the scheme, which represented a 34 percent increase compared with 2020.

Although a significant amount, this is a small proportion of total fraud.

According to previous data released by UK Finance, in the first half of 2021, losses from authorised push payment (APP) fraud alone reached £355.3m, an increase of 71 percent on the same period the previous year.

With full year 2021 data on fraud due to be released by UK Finance soon, perhaps this good news story will help soften the blow for the inevitable negative headlines it will likely generate.

Banking Protocol in action

The Banking Protocol is a UK-wide scheme developed by UK Finance, National Trading Standards and local police forces.

Branch staff are trained to spot the warning signs that suggest a customer may be falling victim to a scam, and then to alert their local police force to intervene and investigate.

The latest figures show that branch staff made 10,072 Banking Protocol calls to the police during 2021, resulting in 162 arrests.

In total, 1,005 arrests have been made since the protocol began.

Customers assisted by the scheme are offered support to help prevent them from falling victim to scams in future, including referrals to social services, expert fraud prevention advice and additional checks on future transactions.

Banking Protocol targets

The Banking Protocol is often used to prevent impersonation scams whereby fraudsters imitate police or bank staff, and convince victims to visit their bank and withdraw or transfer large sums of money.

It is also used to prevent romance fraud, whereby fraudsters use fake online dating profiles to trick victims into transferring money, and it is used to catch rogue traders who demand cash for unnecessary work on properties.

To build on the success of the scheme, banks and building societies are continuing to work with local police forces on expanding the process to cover attempted bank transfers made by customers through telephone and online banking.

So far, 42 out of 45 police forces across the UK have signed up to the enhanced scheme.

Staff working in call centres and in online banking teams notify the police when attempted bank transfers are being made which they believe may be the result of a scam.

Customers using telephone or online banking are first asked by their bank or building society to visit their local branch to enable branch staff to carry out additional checks and use the Banking Protocol if necessary.

However, if the customer is unable to visit their branch — for example, if they are vulnerable or have a disability — staff can directly alert the local police.

The police will then go to the customer’s home and assess whether they have fallen victim to a scam.

"The Banking Protocol continues to be one of the most vital ways of protecting vulnerable victims and preventing criminals from taking advantage of them, as banks are often the first point of contact when someone is about to fall victim to fraud," said Clinton Blackburn, temporary commander from the City of London police.

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