£1.8 million saved through the Banking Protocol initiative in Surrey
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Over £1.8 million has been prevented from being lost to fraudsters in Surrey as a result of the Banking Protocol. This is a UK-wide scheme, supported by UK Finance, involving police forces, banks, building societies and the Post Office.
The Protocol was introduced to crack down on scams where customers are tricked and pressured into visiting their bank in person to withdraw money and hand it over to a criminal. Through the initiative, bank staff are specially trained to spot the warning signs that someone may be about to become a victim of fraud and to prevent them from transferring funds or withdrawing cash to give to a fraudster. Staff members will ask tailored questions to find out if a customer is falling victim to a scam and if they believe they are, they will call 999 and request an immediate police response.
Typically it is the elderly who are targeted by these criminals, with the average age of victims in Surrey being 70. The consequences are not only financial but can be emotionally devastating too.
However, the Protocol is working. Since its introduction to Surrey in August 2018:
- Surrey Police has received 402 calls from banks
- 254 crimes have been recorded
- 16 arrests have been made
One recent call we received involved an 87 year old woman who was manipulated by fraudsters into paying large amounts of money for work they offered to do to her property. The police were alerted after the victim, accompanied by one of the tradespeople, visited her bank and asked to withdraw £6,000 cash from her account. The bank cashier became suspicious and called the police, but the perpetrator ran from the scene. It later became clear that the victim had already paid £33,200 to the tradespeople who were in violation of trading standards and had falsely misrepresented the amount the victim should be paying for the work. Two suspects have been arrested and the victim has been supported with follow up care and given advice and information about scams.
In another incident, an elderly female customer visited her bank and requested to transfer £9,800 from her account. The bank staff were not satisfied with the victim’s reason for wanting to transfer this amount of money so contacted the police. Thankfully, no money was lost on this occasion.
PC Bernadette Lawrie BEM, the Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer for Surrey Police said: “Sadly we know that the evil perpetrators of this type of crime deliberately target the elderly and most vulnerable members of our communities. The fraud can go unreported as victims are led to believe they are assisting the culprits and shouldn’t disclose the reason for wanting to transfer or withdraw large amounts of money. This is why partnerships like the Banking Protocol are crucial to protect the public and bring those responsible to justice.”
Since March 2018, the Banking Protocol has been implemented by all 45 police forces across the UK. 52 payment service providers, including all the main high street banks and the Post Office, are now fully signed up too and have trained their front-line branch staff in the steps that need to be taken when a customer is at risk.
The protocol also ensures that extra support is provided to customers to help prevent them from falling victim to scams in the future. This can include referrals to social services, expert fraud prevention advice and additional checks on future transactions.
Through early intervention and education, we hope to prevent scams like this from happening in the first place. We urge people to follow the advice below and be aware that criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police.
Key things to remember
- Never send or give money to anyone you don't know or trust.
- Check people are who they say they are.
- Don't share your personal information.
- Make decisions in your own time.
- If in doubt phone a relative or a friend.
- Don’t trust anyone who cold calls you about your bank account.
Under no circumstances will the bank or police:
- Request a card PIN or security details over the telephone, or
- Arrange to collect bank cards or cash from you