9 July 2019 | Midlands
TSB Partner Jackie saved customer from losing £19,000 from her life savings.
Last year criminals successfully stole £1.2 billion through fraud and scams, leaving thousands of devastated victims in their wake.
TSB branch manager Jackie Cannon has been trained to spot instances of fraud and her quick thinking recently saved a pensioner from losing her life savings to criminals.
When a pensioner came in to the Stowmarket branch asking to withdraw £19,000, a fellow cashier who knew the lady, alerted Jackie. The money, which the pensioner had asked to withdraw in cash, was apparently needed to pay an “urgent” HMRC bill that could land her a jail sentence or a £50,000 fine if she didn’t pay up. Alarm bells rang for Jackie, and she called the police.
“Stowmarket is a market town with an elderly population,” she said. “They often don’t do online banking so we get to know them. Sometimes we’re the only person they have a conversation with that day. In the case of this lady, we were concerned as the transaction was out of character.”
Jackie found the customer had received calls and text messages from someone claiming to be from “HMRC” over several days.
Jackie asked the victim to sit and wait while she authorised the transaction, but instead she dialled 999. Under an initiative to help try and tackle fraud, if a bank worker quotes “banking protocol” into the emergency switchboard, police will come as soon as possible – they were there within 10 minutes.
“The poor lady was scared to death,” recalls Jackie. “The fraudster was still trying to contact her as we spoke to her. It took her some time to actually believe us that it wasn’t right. That’s what really concerns me with scams – the cleverness of the fraudster in playing mind games.”
The banking protocol scheme, launched two years ago, trains staff to spot when someone is about to fall victim to a scam and to request an immediate police response.
A total of 231 arrests and 4,240 emergency calls were made last year and average of £8,960 worth of fraud was prevented per call, according to industry body UK Finance.
Banks are also seeking to educate customers about the potential dangers. TSB, for example, runs in-branch fraud workshops.
“Whether it’s someone losing £100 or £10,000, fraud is fraud,” says Cannon. “We’d never ask for your PIN, password or any memorable information. If unsure, listen to your instincts and don’t be rushed.”