Britons at Higher Risk of Fraud

Figures show UK HSBC customers are targeted much more frequently.

October 11, 2021
Britons at Higher Risk of Fraud
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New figures released by HSBC show that customers in the UK are much more likely to be targeted by fraud than other customers around the world.

The bank revealed that 80% of the losses customers had reported to the bank as being fraudulent took place in the UK, despite only 20% of the banks’ customers being based here.

HSBC are not the only bank making statements about the UK’s major fraud issues – the chief executive of retail banking for NatWest, David Lindberg, has called the country a “fraudster’s paradise”. He has previously said that having worked in the US and Australia, he’s never seen a market worse for scams than the UK’s.

Combined efforts to tackle the fraud crisis

The new data shows that, despite HSBC having a major presence in Asia, the Americas, the Middle East, North Africa and mainland Europe, it’s the UK that is currently suffering most from fraudsters.

Banks have collectively placed the blame for fraud at some of the larger internet companies, such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook, for not doing enough to prevent scam adverts from being hosted across the internet.

However, many scams are actually making use of popular British institutions and targeting customers by pretending to be Royal Mail, or just the bank themselves. Often customers aren’t targeted online but are contacted by SMS or phone.

Data collection methods vary for scammers but social media is a major issue – many fake competitions and data-gathering posts circulate regularly, encouraging people to share key details that could be used in security passwords for fun quizzes.

New figures from the Financial Conduct Authority show that UK banks and other regulated financial firms are now employing over 17,400 staff purely to deal with financial crime and fraud, costing the institutions around £1.1 billion in salaries and other costs just to deal with the crisis.

In just the first six months of 2021, scammers managed to make off with over £750 million of UK customers’ money, and around £2 billion in total since the start of the pandemic, which has made digital and telephone banking even more prominent and opened up less technical-savvy customers to more threats.

New helpline launched…but HSBC involvement delayed

To help combat the rise in fraud, a new Stop Scams service has launched in the UK with a helpline number – 159. Customers are encouraged to hang up the phone if they are contacted by their bank, and then dial this number to be put through to their bank to check whether it was a genuine call.

However, it is only currently available to customers of Barclays, Lloyds Bank, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Ulster Bank, Santander and Starling – around 70% of current UK current account holders.

HSBC are one of the banks expected to sign up to the service next year, along with Nationwide, Virgin Money, Monzo and other big names that are currently missing. In the meantime, HSBC customers should make a note of the bank’s customer service number, which will be happy to operate in the same way.

Ian Lewis
Ian Lewis
Ian is an experienced writer with 15 years’ experience working in journalism and marketing. He’s worked in-house in financial institutions as well as writing freelance pieces for a variety of banking and financial trading websites.

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