Santander: Radical Action Needed to Tackle APP Fraud

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One of world’s biggest banks has called on the UK government and industry to do more to fight authorized push payment (APP) fraud.

The financial group Santander issued its Tackling Authorised Push Payment Fraud Report this week, outlining its goals for enhanced collaboration between government, the private sector and law enforcement.

APP fraud occurs when a scammer posing as a trusted entity tricks the victim into transferring money to a bank account under their control. Common examples include crypto and romance scams.

As the victim technically initiates the payment, banks in many countries refuse to refund losses incurred this way.

However, it’s an increasingly popular way for scammers to get hold of victims’ money. One recent report claimed that 75% of all digital banking fraud losses in the first half of 2022 were down to APP fraud.

Santander’s “radical” plan of action includes calls for:

  • An update to payments systems to introduce new data sharing standards
  • A harmonized set of fraud rules for all banks to follow
  • A more tailored approach to payments, which may include additional checks for higher value Faster Payments

In the UK, Confirmation of Payee (CoP) checks are offered by many lenders, alerting customers setting up new payments if the payee bank details and name don’t match or aren’t recorded.

Yet Santander argued that the feature is still not mandatory across all Payment Service Providers (PSPs) for new payments.

As well as improved collaboration between industry and law enforcement to beef-up the latter’s anti-fraud skills, Santander called on the government to take a stronger lead.

Specifically, it wants the Online Safety Bill to be brought forward and consideration given as to whether the platforms that unwittingly host scam content, like social media companies, should be forced to reimburse victims. 

It also called for “effective and streamlined government leadership dedicated to tackling APP fraud.”

Enrique Alvarez, head of Everyday Banking at Santander UK, argued that APP fraud can damage the mental health of victims.

“Unfortunately, we see this far too often and it is time for us all to act together. The criminals who perpetrate these scams shouldn’t be getting away with it,” he added.

“As our report shows, there are changes the banking industry can implement, but there are other changes that are clearly outside the banking industry’s control, like how fraudsters often reach their victims in the first place.”

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