Protecting our customers from fraud is a top priority for everyone at Santander and we have the utmost sympathy with victims, for whom we know the impact can be emotionally as well as financially devastating. We invest heavily in our own prevention and detection systems and have over 700 staff working in our anti-fraud teams. We were one of the original participants in the Contingent Reimbursement Model Code and we continue to fully support its purpose. We were the first bank to introduce tailored warnings for customers about potential scams when making payments and we are continuously developing them to help customers make informed decisions.
While our actions to protect our customers are making a significant difference, it is clear that to tackle fraud effectively for the long term, a holistic approach is needed – involving collaboration between financial services organisations and social media companies, tech platforms and telecoms operators to stop fraudsters using their services to target consumers. We are therefore a founder member of the Stop Scams UK group which aims to bring together organisations across a range of sectors to stop scams at source. Only by intervening to stop scams from happening in the first place can we prevent victims suffering the emotional impact of being scammed and – importantly - stop the flow of funds into criminals’ pockets.
In this context, we are concerned that publishing reimbursement rates in isolation could present a misleading picture to consumers by failing to take into consideration relative levels of fraud prevention, which should be the overriding priority. We believe that reimbursement rates should only be published alongside three additional measures to provide consumers with a balanced view:
- Prevention data – the amount of fraud prevented by banks, which is vital context for consumers in understanding the effectiveness of banks’ fraud controls;
- Scam originator data – to provide consumers with an understanding of the proportion of fraud cases which originated from third party enablers such as social media platforms, telcos, search engines; and
- Recipient account data - the level of scam payments received into banks’ accounts, and the value of funds frozen and subsequently repatriated – demonstrating banks’ effectiveness at stopping funds flowing to criminals.
Agreeing a common reporting methodology across the banking sector to deliver this data will be a complex project that will take time to get right, but we believe it is worthwhile in order to provide consumers with a more balanced and insightful view. We stand ready to work with UK Finance and its members to be in a position to publish this data as soon as possible.