20 April 2022

TSB marks three years of its Fraud Refund Guarantee with urgent warning to households over prolific Impersonation Fraud

Click here to read TSB’s report on the vital next steps needed to tackle fraud

Customer case studies and quote in notes to editors

  • Impersonation Fraud accounts for a third of TSB cases since the start of the year and over half (52%) of the vital Fraud Refund Guarantee support TSB provided its customers in 2021
  • As new figures reveal over £2 billion worth of fraud has been reported to Action Fraud in under a year – TSB highlights the biggest Impersonation Fraud categories to help the public fight back
  • With the average cost of Impersonation Fraud at almost £4,000 per case across the banking sector, TSB is warning consumers to remain extra vigilant of the most impersonated companies, at a time when household finances are already squeezed
  • TSB today launches its ‘Tackling Fraud Together’ report highlighting the next steps needed to fight the fraud epidemic
  • TSB reveals its fraud losses are almost a fifth (19%) below the industry average – as the Bank’s relentless focus on fraud has helped to drive down losses and offers greater customer protection through its Fraud Refund Guarantee.

With Impersonation Fraud accounting for a third (33%)1 of TSB fraud cases since the start of the year, TSB reveals the most impersonated companies behind the attacks, to help households avoid prolific scams as the cost-of-living bites.

TSB categorises impersonation fraud as an attack in which a criminal impersonates a company, business, organisation or an individual as the key component of the scam. The category accounted for over half (52%)2 of TSB customer transactions to fraudsters by value in 2021.

New industry figures highlight the ever-present threat of fraud – with over £2 billion3 worth of cases reported to Action Fraud in under a year.

Impersonation Fraud is a key driver of these losses, as cases have spiked by over 300 percent4 since 2019, reaffirming TSB’s decision to step in and protect its customers from increasingly complex scams, by introducing its Fraud Refund Guarantee in April 2019.

The average case across the industry sees a near £4,000 loss5 - and consumers are bombarded with scam calls, text and emails every day.

TSB’s analysis of customer data reveals the main Impersonation Fraud categories driving customer impact, as well as the company names most used to trick victims.

The top five Impersonation Fraud categories6 by percentage of total loss, are:

Impersonation Fraud category by % of total loss Most impersonated company by % loss within each category
Bank Impersonation Fraud – over half (55% of total losses)
 
These are typically cases where fraudsters pose as being from the victim’s own bank and claim their account is under attack – and that they must transfer funds to a ‘safe account.’
All banks see their own brand being impersonated with the same attacks on their own customers.
Authority Fraud – over one in eight (13%)
 
Criminals claim to represent official organisations, such as the NHS, DVLA, DWP etc.
Police (40%), HMRC (38%) and The National Crime Agency (13%)
Phone & Internet Provider and Tech Support Fraud – nine percent (9%)
 
Fraudsters pose as call centre employees offering to speed up broadband or help with home software
BT (47%), Virgin (21%) and Sky (19%)
Delivery Fraud – eight percent (8%)
 
Impersonation of courier and postal companies
Royal Mail (70%), Hermes (18%) and DPD (9%)
Amazon Fraud – over one in 20 (7%)
 
A standalone category due to the scale and variety of the impersonation scams that use Amazon’s name
Amazon 100% - with scams including Prime subscription, refunds, and account support
Source: TSB analysed customer data on impersonation fraud from 1st March 2021 – 28 February 2022 – and created categories relating to the varied approaches of fraudsters

 

Bank Impersonation Fraud is rife across the industry - making up 24 percent of all fraud losses in UK Finance’s latest fraud data7 as all banks face impersonation. At TSB, it makes up 21 percent of all losses TSB is among 12 banks to join the 159 service to provide a route for customers to hang up and check the legitimacy of a call via this phone number.

TSB is also warning over Friends and Family fraud, which recorded the second highest number of cases, overall. It leads to over £1,200 lost per case, many of which are cost-of-living related, as fraudsters send emotive texts, or email requests for financial help, all while posing as a relative, or friend.

Three years of vital refund support as fraud rapidly increased

TSB launched its Fraud Refund Guarantee in response to rising levels of fraud across the banking sector – as consumers faced increasingly sophisticated and complex scams.

Further figures released today show that £6.7 billion8 worth of cases have been reported to Action Fraud since April 2019 – leaving other bank customers exposed to life-changing losses, while TSB refunded 97 percent of cases during some of the most difficult years in generations.

Under the Fraud Refund Guarantee, TSB’s fraud losses are almost a fifth (19%)9 below the industry average – as the Bank’s relentless focus on fraud has helped to drive down losses.

In Parliament today, TSB will set out the vital next steps needed to tackle fraud with its ‘Tackling Fraud Together’ report with contributions from debt charity, StepChange, MPs and customers.

Paul Davis, Director of Fraud Prevention, TSB, said:

“Households are bombarded with scam calls, texts and emails every day – we're urging them to remain suspicious of any unsolicited contact, to avoid falling victim to fraud at a time when the impact would be hardest felt.

“We continue to be the only bank to protect customers from fraud losses, through our Fraud Refund Guarantee, which is as important now as it’s ever been to the lives of our customers."

Phil Andrew, Chief Executive Officer, StepChange, said:

“In tough times fraud and financial difficulty go hand in hand. The pandemic has left many households with little or no ability to cope with financial shocks and, as cost-of-living increases start to bite, it’s vital consumers are protected from those seeking to exploit financial and other vulnerabilities.

“People who have lost money to fraudsters need quick and effective help and support, so it’s particularly welcome to see refund support offered to victims of fraud.”

Fraud advice from Paul Davis, Director of Fraud Prevention, TSB:

  • With the vast number of spoof calls made every day, it pays to be suspicious of any out of the blue contact you receive – so keep your guard up and don’t let yourself be easily convinced.
  • Despite the complex tricks of fraudsters, you have a guaranteed defence that will always win: Hang up or delete the message.
  • You can always contact the company directly by searching official routes online – to confirm if the call was genuine.
  • Take your time. Fraudsters thrive on causing rush and panic.
  • Your bank’s fraud department will never ask you to make a transfer – so just hang up. Dial 159 to confirm it’s really your bank calling you.

 

The information contained in this press release is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions. ‚Äč

Media Contacts

Matthew Hepburn, Media Relations Manager | matthew.hepburn@tsb.co.uk

Follow us on twitter: @TSB_News

Notes to editors

1 TSB customer data from January 2022 – March 2022

2 TSB customer data from January 2021 – December 2021

3 New data supplied by Action Fraud – April 2021 – February 2022

4 UK Finance: Fraud the Facts: 2019 H1 8,117 cases and for 2021 H1 33,115 cases. An increase of 307.97%.

5 UK Finance: Adding impersonation categories with Bank/Police fraud has a £3,900 average per case.

6 TSB analysed customer data on impersonation fraud from 1st March 2021 – 28 February 2022 – and created categories relating to the varied approach of fraudsters, to identify how each category contributed to the total amount.

7 UK Finance: Fraud the Facts, H1 2021

8 New Action Fraud data over three years, from the launch of TSB’s Fraud Refund Guarantee in April 2019 – February 2022

9 Calculated by comparing TSB’s APP fraud losses with total industry APP losses between Jan 2019 – Nov 2021. TSB then calculated the percentage difference between market share and loss figure to reach a 19% difference.

More on the Stop Scams ‘Call 159’ initiative, here.

Hear from TSB customers refunded under the Fraud Refund Guarantee

As well as providing refunds, TSB provides detailed support to victims – some of whom have become anti-fraud campaigners, willing to share their stories to help others. Read more below:

Wayne Chapman, over £1,000 refunded and £1,000 prevented by TSB

Wayne, a 45-year old from Rushden, Northants who owns a car repair business was refunded over £1,000 after falling victim to Royal Mail delivery fraud.

Wayne had been expecting a package and the scam text appeared highly convincing – asking him to input his card details. A few days later he was contacted by a follow-up call in which a targeted scammer tricked him into transferring over £1,000.

Wayne said:

“The scam text looked so believable, and I had been expecting deliveries at the time. I clicked the link, inputted my card details, and then didn’t hear anything else of it – until a few days' time, where a pushy voice on the phone, who knew a lot about me, tricked me into transferring my money away. I want to tell everyone to be careful – take your time and don’t be rushed; hanging up is all you need to do to break their spell.”

David Bale - £6,000 refunded

David Bale, a 77-year old actor from Peterborough was refunded £6,000 from TSB after receiving a ‘Safe Account’ phone call from a fraudster claiming to be from TSB. Since then, David has appeared in print and on national radio, campaigning for others and for all banks to provide the refund support he received.

David said:

“They catch you in a trap and it all happens so quickly. It’s when you end the call that your heart sinks. We’re such a trusting nation that when we hear it's our Bank, the Police or HMRC we want to do what they say and help them out – only most of the time it’s going to be a scammer! Since being targeted I’ve put lots of energy into campaigning for others. Fortunately, I received a refund – innocent victims at other banks aren’t so lucky which would prove devastating in these challenging times. This must change.”

Key calls to action from TSB’s ‘Tackling Fraud Together’ report:

Make those able to prevent fraud responsible when it occurs

  • Require all Payment Service Providers (PSPs) to refund innocent fraud victims – recognising the role and responsibility PSPs have in protecting their customers.

  • After mandating reimbursement from PSPs, government and regulators must create a financial redress mechanism for PSPs to seek costs (partial or total) from sectors which have enabled fraud.

  • Drive forward a cultural shift in institutions, public and private, as well as society more generally that treats fraud victims as victims and does not blame them.

  • Encourage victim reporting and significantly improve the consistency of support for fraud victims.

  • In reducing fraud, consider the benefits of introducing more friction into the payment system to enable banks and customers more time to identify and respond to fraud. This may involve amendments to the Payment Services Regulations and other regulation.

Drive better and more consistent accountability across businesses and government

  • Create a requirement on all large businesses (telecoms firms, social media firms, technology companies etc) to measure the volume and value of fraud that occurs on their platforms and report it annually, display it prominently and share real time information with PSPs and regulators.

  • Require sectors such as crypto exchanges, where security and know your customer (KYC) has typically been poor, to tighten up their standards and to accept responsibility for reimbursing users suffering fraud on their accounts.

  • Require co-ordinated action between the cryptocurrency industry, social media firms and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to crack down on fake “crypto” investments.

  • Establish a cabinet level and cross-departmental minister for fraud with oversight and power over the entire fraud landscape.

  • Ensure that the Online Safety Bill does not create inconsistent regulatory and legal approaches to fraudulent adverts due to the platform they appear on. Currently adverts which appear through search engines will be treated differently to those on social media.

  • Pursue a robust approach to online advertising through the Online Advertising Programme – which places significant and meaningful requirements on firms to limit fraudulent adverts and which imposes severe consequences on those who fail to comply.

Inform consumer choice through greater transparency of fraud and refund rates

  • Require all PSPs to report their fraud refund rate based on agreed industry criteria and display them prominently (physically and digitally).

  • Require reimbursement rates to be published on PSP apps and not just on PSP websites – recognising that many people rarely use internet banking and instead use mobile apps.

  • Require non-banking sectors to publish data on fraud and to display it to their users/customers.