UK Banks Drive £77 Million Reduction in European Fraud Losses

UK banks led the way in Europe last year with fraud protection efforts, driving an overall drop in associated losses of £77 million (€90 million) year-on-year, according to new data from FICO.

The predictive analytics firm claimed that British financial institutions cut fraud losses by an impressive £46 million (€69 million) in 2020, the equivalent of a 7% reduction on 2019 figures.

They were joined by their counterparts in Denmark, who managed to drive down fraud by €20 million (£17 million).

However, this is largely where the good news ends for Europe, as only three more out of the 18 countries studied managed to achieve a reduction and none on the same scale as the UK and Denmark. FICO claimed that without the “focus, robustness, resilience and adaptability” of UK banks, European fraud losses would have increased over the period by around £8 million (€10 million).

In France (€6 million), Poland (€5 million) and Germany (€3 million), fraudsters all increased their takings.

Norway saw the biggest year-on-year rise (172%) from €8 million to €22 million, driven by prolific phishing and smishing campaigns designed to trick users into divulging their log-ins.

According to banking industry association UK Finance, financial institutions prevented £1.6 billion in unauthorized fraud by implementing real-time transaction analysis and other technologies.

Other steps included improved collaboration and intelligence sharing between law enforcement, government and industry, and the roll-out of the Banking Protocol, which allows bank branch staff to alert the police when they think a customer is being scammed.

UK Finance also pointed to collaborative industry efforts to block scam text messages and number spoofing, as well as an account name-checking service known as "Confirmation of Payee" designed to prevent authorized push payment scams.

The new figures are at odds with many predictions that cited COVID-19 as providing fraudsters with new opportunities to scam consumers and their banks.

However, a respected think tank earlier this year branded escalating fraud a national security risk, requiring a "major systemic shift” in government strategy. A separate paper from the same organization warned of “silent stealing” tactics in which fraudsters target large numbers of consumers for very small amounts they may not notice.

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