Vulnerable Victims Notifications – bringing together banks and law enforcement

Criminals are increasingly targeting the more vulnerable people. Consequently, it is imperative that law enforcement and the financial services industry work together to help protect those who are vulnerable to fraud. This blog describes some initiatives that have been developed to strengthen this relationship.

In 2022, £485.2 million was lost due to Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud. Some common types of APP fraud are impersonation scams, where the fraudster pretends to be someone else (such as the police or bank staff), and investment scams, where the fraudster persuades the victim to pay for a fake investment.

Vulnerable Victims Notifications (VVN)

In 2021, the Vulnerable Victims Notifications (VVN) process was launched. This initiative was developed as part of a collaboration between UK Finance and Sussex and Surrey Police, enabling law enforcement to notify financial service providers of customer vulnerabilities which may make them susceptible to fraud. Eighteen regional police forces and fourteen banking brands have now signed up to the process, with more scheduled to start.

Since its launch, the VVN process has helped over 500 vulnerable customers, with 40 per cent of referrals flagging vulnerabilities that were unknown to the victims’ banks. This allowed the financial institutions to apply protective measures to their customers’ accounts to reduce the risk of fraud. These protective measures could include vulnerability markers, providing specific education and awareness materials, and in some cases, allowing the customer to be fully reimbursed.

In one case, a police officer visited a victim of fraud’s home and saw NHS letters referring her for dementia tests. The officer sent a VVN to the victim’s bank, which was completely unaware of the customer’s potential medical condition and was able to reimburse her in full.

This initiative has demonstrated that the seemingly disparate partnership of law enforcement and financial institutions can actually complement each other. As a result, vulnerable people in society are being protected as this collaboration is enhanced.

The VVN process is just one of many initiatives bringing financial institutions and law enforcement together to help protect people from fraud. 

The impact of the Banking Protocol

In 2016, we launched the Banking Protocol. This initiative, involving 45 police forces, allows bank colleagues to request an immediate police response to a branch if it is suspected that a customer is involved in a scam. In 2022 the Banking Protocol prevented £55.5 million from being lost to fraud. Since its launch, it has led to over 1,200 arrests.

The Banking Protocol has strengthened the relationship between financial institutions and law enforcement. It has encouraged further initiatives such as the Banking Protocol Cross Channel and the Vulnerable Victims Notifications process. Similarly, law enforcement agencies are advocates of the Take Five and Don’t Be Fooled education campaigns.

These initiatives have been very successful in protecting vulnerable people and preventing financial loss, thanks to financial institutions and law enforcement working together to fight against fraud.

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