Over £200 million of fraud stopped by rapid scam response scheme

Branch staff at banks, building societies and Post Offices have worked with the police to stop £202.8 million of fraud through the Banking Protocol rapid scam response scheme since it launched in 2016, according to the latest figures from UK Finance. Last year £60.7 million was stopped through the scheme, 34 per cent more than in 2020.

The Banking Protocol is a UK-wide scheme, developed by UK Finance, National Trading Standards and local police forces. Branch staff are trained to spot the warning signs that suggest a customer may be falling victim to a scam, before alerting their local police force to intervene and investigate. 

The latest figures, detailed in the table below, show that branch staff made 10,072 Banking Protocol calls to the police during 2021. The scheme led to the arrest of 162 suspected criminals last year, bringing the total number of arrests to 1,005 since the protocol began. 

 

2021

Total since 2016 launch

Amount of Fraud prevented

£60.7 million

£202.8 million

Number of arrests

162

1,005

Number of calls made by branch staff to police

10,072

33,845

Customers assisted by the scheme are offered ongoing support to help prevent them from falling victim to scams in the future, including referrals to social services, expert fraud prevention advice and additional checks on future transactions. The Banking Protocol is often used to prevent impersonation scams, in which criminals imitate police or bank staff and convince people to visit their bank and withdraw or transfer large sums of money. It is also used to prevent romance fraud, in which fraudsters use fake online dating profiles to trick victims into transferring money, and to catch rogue traders who demand cash for unnecessary work on properties.  

Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime, UK Finance, commented:

The Banking Protocol has helped to prevent tens of thousands of people from becoming victims of fraud. Its success shows the importance of joint work between the police and banking industry, not only to protect customers but also to tackle the criminals behind these scams.

?Bank staff are trained to spot scams and as part of the scheme will assist customers by asking various questions when they are withdrawing or transferring money to help keep them safe.

?Criminals are always changing their tactics so it's important to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, and remember that a bank or the police will never ask you to transfer funds to another account or to withdraw cash to hand over to them for safe-keeping.

Temporary Commander Clinton Blackburn, from the City of London Police, said

The Banking Protocol continues to be one of the most vital ways of protecting vulnerable victims and preventing criminals from taking advantage of them, as banks are often the first point of contact when someone is about to fall victim to fraud.

?Partnership working across the finance sector is crucial in protecting people against fraud. It is great to see that the Banking Protocol is working so well and has prevented such significant loses to fraud since its inception in 2016.

To build on the success of the scheme, banks and building societies are continuing to work with local police forces on expanding the process to cover attempted bank transfers made by customers through telephone and online banking. So far, 42 out of 45 police forces across the UK are signed up to the enhanced scheme. Staff working in call centres and in online banking teams notify the police when attempted bank transfers are being made which they believe may be the result of a scam. Customers using telephone or online banking are first asked by the bank or building society to visit their local branch to enable branch staff to carry out additional checks and use the Banking Protocol if necessary. However, if the customer is unable to visit their branch, for example if they are vulnerable or have a disability, staff would be able to directly alert the local police who will make a visit to the customer's home and assess whether they have fallen victim to a scam. 

Contact Information

UK Finance Press Office
020 7416 6750
press@ukfinance.org.uk

Notes to editor

UK Finance is the collective voice for the banking and finance industry. Representing around 300 firms across the industry, we act to enhance competitiveness, support customers and facilitate innovation. 

  1. Figures are based on data provided to UK Finance by all 45 police forces across the UK participating in the Banking Protocol scheme.  
  2. The Banking Protocol was developed in partnership between UK Finance, National Trading Standards and law enforcement. It was first trialled by the London Metropolitan Police in October 2016 and has been operational across all police forces of the UK since March 2018. Upon spotting the warning signs that suggest someone may have fallen for a scam, branch staff will make an emergency call to the police. Police will then visit the branch to investigate the suspected fraud and arrest any suspects still on the scene. 
  3. The expansion of the scheme to telephone and online banking enables staff working in call centres and in online banking teams to notify police when attempted bank transfers are being made which they believe may be the result of a scam. Customers using telephone or online banking are first asked by the bank or building society to visit their local branch to enable branch staff to carry out additional checks and use the Banking Protocol if necessary. However, if the customer is unable to visit their branch, for example if they are vulnerable or have a disability, staff would be able to directly alert the local police who will make a visit to the customer?s home and assess whether they have fallen victim to a scam. 
  4. It forms part of a range of measures introduced by the banking and finance industry to protect customers from fraud and scams, including: 
    • Investing in advanced security systems to protect customers, including real-time transaction analysis, behavioural biometrics on devices and technology to identify the different sound tones that every phone has and the environment that they are in. 
    • Working with the regulator Ofcom to crack down on number spoofing, including through the development of a ?do not originate? list. Ofcom has said this work has led to significant successes in preventing criminals from spoofing the phone numbers of trusted organisations. 
    • Sharing intelligence on emerging threats with law enforcement, government departments and regulators through the?National Economic Crime Centre. This drives down serious organised economic crime, protecting the public and safeguarding the prosperity and reputation of the UK as a financial centre. 
    • Sponsoring a specialist police unit, the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), which tackles the organised criminal groups responsible for financial fraud and scams,
  5. The Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign urges consumers to remember that criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. If you believe you?ve fallen for a scam, contact your bank immediately on a number you know to be correct, such as the one listed on your statement, their website or on the back of your debit or credit card. Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via actionfraud.police.uk. If you are in Scotland, please report to Police Scotland directly by calling 101 or Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000. 
    • Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe. 
    • Challenge: Could it be fake? It?s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
    • Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you?ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud. 
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