I lost £4,000 to fraud… now I want banks to be open about tackling it

Helia Ebrahimi is economics correspondent for Channel 4 News

I recently became another bank fraud statistic after I found £4,000 had vanished from my account. Apparently, it was transferred to a Mr F Strobel for ‘building payments’.

Of course, I’m not alone. Latest figures show that between January and June last year, more than a million customers were hit by fraud, valued at over £1 billion.

What’s more troubling is that the data, published by trade association UK Finance, also shows that the number of people targeted by fraud has almost doubled in the last three years.

According to the Financial Ombudsman Service, between April 2018 and March 2019 there were more than 1,100 complaints about fraud and HSBC

In my case, after I saw £4,000 was gone from my account, I went into my local branch. Under the 2017 Payments Legislation, Section 76, banks need to reimburse a customer no later than one day after they have been notified of the fraud.

In my case it took 18 – and a further ten before I regained access to my account.

What’s worse is that HSBC has now admitted it allowed someone to transfer money from my account to Mr F Strobel with nothing but a faked signature. No driving licence, no passport. 

In a statement, HSBC said that in my case ‘errors were made which meant the fraud was not dealt with in a timely manner. Circumstances like this do not reflect the level of service our customers should expect from us.’

I was refunded my £4,000 and given £250 compensation.

According to the Financial Ombudsman Service, between April 2018 and March 2019 there were more than 1,100 complaints about fraud and HSBC. The Ombudsman upheld almost half of these in favour of the customer. The big problem is that consumers have no way of checking how their bank compares when it comes to fraud.

‘Banks have to publish a suite of service measures, for example IT glitches. But what’s missing is how many fraud cases banks resolve and how quickly,’ says Gareth Shaw.

‘You have to go on a merry dance to try to find out how your bank has performed. Some data goes to the regulator, some to the Ombudsman. But there isn’t one place where consumers can see performance on this issue. We would welcome more transparency from banks which would give customers more reassurance.’

If my experience is anything to go by, consumers would benefit a great deal if banks would be more open on how well they compare to rivals on the serious issue of fraud.