Santander calls for immediate action to protect UK consumers from APP fraud

•    Santander’s new report (940 KB) puts forward key recommendations that the banking industry, Government and other industries should take to tackle Authorised Push Payment fraud
•    Recommendations include that all banks and payment service providers should follow consistent rules to prevent fraud, including data sharing and mandatory Confirmation of Payee 
•    The banking industry should explore how more friction on high-value or high-risk payments could give potential victims the chance to ‘break the spell’ of scammers
•    The Government should take urgent steps to prevent scammers from reaching victims in the first place, using the much-delayed Online Safety Bill to tackle a £583m crime1

Santander has today released its Tackling Authorised Push Payment Fraud Report (940 KB) outlining its recommendations for putting the brakes on Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud and urging those from the banking and payment sectors to the private sector, Government and law enforcement to come together to tackle the rise in this criminal activity.

Santander is calling for a radical plan of action. The recommendations put forward for the banking and payments industry are:  
•    Update payments systems to introduce new data sharing standards – Pay UK should develop new data standards to define overlay services as part of the New Payment Architecture (NPA), which is the infrastructure that will further support digital payments; 
•    Ensure all payment providers follow a specific set of fraud rules – Confirmation of Payee (CoP) should be mandatory across all Payment Service Providers (PSPs) for all new payments; and 
•    Provide a more tailored approach to payments – consideration should be given to whether higher-value Faster Payments require additional checks.

Recommendations for Government and other industries to implement are:
•    Prevent fraudsters from reaching people in the first place – the Online Safety Bill should be brought forward, and consideration should be given to linking where the scam originally started e.g. social media platform, to who is responsible for reimbursing the victim; 
•    Greater collaboration between Law Enforcement and Industry – law enforcement must have sufficient skills and resource to adequately respond to the crime; and
•    Provide clear and accountable leadership – there needs to be effective and streamlined Government leadership dedicated to tackling APP fraud. 

Enrique Alvarez, Head of Everyday Banking at Santander UK: “The sheer scale and value of APP fraud can detract from the real impact of these crimes on individual consumers, who can lose more than just money – their confidence and mental health can also be significantly harmed. Unfortunately, we see this far too often, and it is time for us all to act together. The criminals who perpetrate these scams shouldn’t be getting away with it.

“As our report shows, there are changes the banking industry can implement - but there are other changes that are clearly outside the banking industry’s control - like how fraudsters often reach their victims in the first place. We must all come together and address the issue, because currently the only real winners are the fraudsters.” 

Santander is urging Government to be more focussed in how it deals with fraud and for a cross-Whitehall response which ensures consistency across the Home Office, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and HM Treasury. It also believes it is crucial that the Government brings forward the measures proposed in the Online Safety Bill to tackle user-generated and paid for advertising used by fraudsters. 

Currently, there is no consistent regulation or legislation that is applicable to all financial institutions in this space, and there is no single body centrally managing this at a ‘payment system’ level in the UK. Creating a set of specific fraud rules that PSPs must adhere to covering technical designs, policy and how to process payments to reduce fraud, should be a focus for the industry. Pay.UK should also develop new data standards to increase the safety of confirming payees and requesting payments as part of the NPA, capturing extra data in any real-time payment transaction to stop fraudulent transactions from occurring.

The report also makes it clear that big tech has a role to play in preventing fraudsters reaching consumers in the first place. Santander data shows that over 70% of purchase scams originate on social media (Facebook 54%; Instagram 15%; Snapchat 4%). Alongside this, law enforcement agencies need to allocate significantly more resources to tackling these type of scams, create consistency in how fraud is reported, as well as effectively manage how the reports are followed up. At the moment competing pressures on law enforcement means that there is insufficient resource and consideration given to this type of crime. 

In the early 2000s, card fraud was rife across the world. The ‘Chip and Pin Moment’ that followed was a revolutionary solution to provide the extra layer of security needed to protect people’s cash and provide customers with peace of mind. The change in the UK payments landscape fuelled by technological innovations means that a similar moment is now needed to stop APP fraud. 

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The information contained in our press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions.  

Notes to Editors:
1 – UK Finance Annual Fraud Report 2021
2 – OnePoll survey, March 2022
The report can be viewed here: (940 KB)

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 30 June 2022, the bank had around 18,000 employees and serves around 14 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the FCA and the PRA in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the FSCS in the UK.  

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in the Europe, North America and South America regions, and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Santander aims to be the best open financial services platform providing services to individuals, SMEs, corporates, financial institutions and governments. The bank’s purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising over €120 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2025, as well as financially empowering more than 10 million people over the same period. At the end of the first half of 2022, Banco Santander had €1.2 trillion in total funds, 157 million customers, of which 26 million are loyal and 50 million are digital, 9,200 branches and 200,000 employees.