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UK Finance warns of push payment scams danger

UK Finance, the association for the UK banking, payments and financial sectors, has warned that companies and consumers lost more than £100 million to transfer scams in first six months of 2017. The transfer scams, known as authorised push payments, involve the victim being tricked by the criminals into voluntarily transferring money into an account controlled by the criminals. There were a total of 19,370 reported cases in the first six months of 2017, with a total value of £101.2 million. The majority – 88 per cent – of the victims were consumers but businesses stand to lose far greater sums of money. The average loss for businesses was £21,477, while consumers lost an average of £3,027.

Alarmingly, only a quarter of the losses – £25.2 million – was returned to the victim. However, financial providers are calling for legislative changes to allow them to do more, says UK Finance. The current legislation means that if a customer authorises the payment – in other words, they give consent – they have no legal protection to cover them for losses, unlike other financial frauds where the criminal makes a payment without a customer’s consent.

UK Finance says that the push payment scams can be very convincing and criminals use a range of tactics to commit this crime, including impersonating someone from a bank or a police officer, claiming a fraud has been spotted on a customer’s account, sending fake invoices to businesses, offering fraudulent investment opportunities or posing as a house purchaser’s solicitor.

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