Scams are on the rise: policy and legislation need to do more

Adnan Chowdhury

With millions of us having spent more time at home and online over the last few years, fraudsters and criminals have found more opportunities to exploit people, and their money.

Research by Ofcom found that 82% of British adults had received a suspicious message during the summer last year. UK Finance, the largest trade body for Britain’s financial sector, said £754m had been stolen from bank customers during the first half of 2021.

The problem is everywhere: complex fraud scams are constantly evolving, and financial institutions and fintechs can’t tackle the problem alone.

What is Wise doing to help?

We’re working with the Payment Systems Regulator as it formulates formal structures to help victims of Authorised Push Payment (APP) scams - when a person or business is tricked into sending money to a fraudster posing as a genuine payee. We’re also a member of UK Finance’s Enhanced Payment Data Sharing Group, working with other financial institutions to better share information about fraud typologies and changing trends. Wise has also just launched a self-service system for fraud victims to report fraudulent payments directly to our specialist fraud teams, without having to go through customer support.

But the government and regulators need to do more to tackle the issue at source.

That is why, after serious efforts from industry, we were pleased to see that the Online Safety Bill in the UK will require big tech companies and search engines to remove fraudulent paid-for advertising on their platforms, and need to ensure that this returns to Parliament under the new Government as soon as possible. It will mean scammers who spend money on websites like Facebook and Google to push their fake websites to the top of search results will no longer be able to do so. Big tech will be legally required to remove such ads that direct you to a fake ‘customer support’ page, or that offer unrealistic investment returns.

It’s a massive step towards tackling the issue at source and needs to be implemented as soon as possible. But the government still needs to go further.

Our ask for the industry

The Government needs to take bold action together with industry to tackle this issue. Currently, firms cannot automatically refer cases to the police, and instead needs to be done by victims. We believe the Government should enable some key policies:

First, businesses should be legally empowered to automatically refer fraud cases to the police; not only does this take pressure off victims, but it gives the police access to a broad dataset from financial service firms to better catch these criminals.

Second, the Government should boost funding for the National Crime Agency’s fraud division to help catch more of these criminals.

Third, the secondary part of the Economic Crime Bill expected later this year, should consider enabling the recall of funds between financial institutions for clearly fraudulent transactions. This would significantly increase efficiency between banks, and raise the likelihood of returning funds to the victim.

These are just some ways to strengthen the tools we have to get ahead of criminals in the financial world. Only together can we push forward, and break through the pandemic of financial crime.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Money for here, there and everywhere

Find out more

Wise Privacy Policy Update

We are here to protect your privacy and are always striving to ensure we remain transparent on how we handle your personal data. We have simplified the layout...

22.02.23 1 minute read

Tips, news and updates for your location