Why is bank fraud still growing? Perhaps because we have no answer to the genius of the master criminals involved. Perhaps because some banks don’t take their customers’ security as seriously as they claim.
David Elliott recently discovered this for himself. A number of ‘phone contracts were taken out in his name, without his knowledge. The fraudster made no payments, and the ‘phone companies demanded the money from Mr Elliott. He had to deal with around 120 letters of this unpleasant nature.
How could this happen? How did the ‘phone companies know his address? Because Santander Bank had provided the fraudster with an account in the name of Dominic Elliott, using David Elliott’s address.
Mr Elliott is not happy about this. He blames Santander for his difficulties. He believes that the bank should have taken care to verify the address. it’s no surprise that he should think so. Banks have a duty under money laundering regulations to do just that.
Of course, Santander claims that it goes to the utmost lengths to keep it’s customers’ money safe. It may well do so, but it wasn’t very effective in this case, was it? it allowed an account to be opened using a false address.
We shouldn’t single out Santander for criticism. It’s not the only bank to take such a relaxed attitude to security. On the other hand, it’s not typical, either. Some banks go to much greater lengths to protect their customers’ funds. They will ask for proof of identity, even for an existing customer who is simply changing address. There’s a wide range of attitudes to security amongst these organisations.
Fraudsters know all about this discrepancy, and target those banks which cause them the least difficulty. Some combinations of banks are particularly lucrative. Unfortunately. this doesn’t only affect customers of those banks. David Elliott does not bank with Santander.
Even though we can’t escape the incompetence of an organisation which we don’t deal with, we might try to give ourselves the best chance by banking with a company which has a sense of responsibility towards its customers’ funds. How can we tell which banks do best in keeping our accounts secure?
It would be useful to have a standardised approach to preventing bank fraud. The standard should be set at best practice, of course, and not mediocrity. Then we would know that all banks were doing whatever was necessary to reduce the millions of pounds lost to this type of crime.
You’d think that this was already happening, wouldn’t you?
- Fraudsters have made my life hell (leamingtoncourier.co.uk)
- Saturday Money: Scam victim who lost pounds 80,000 set to take legal action against Santander: Fraud Bank accused of failing in its duty of care as thousands are duped into moving their cash. Miles Brignall reports (hispanicbusiness.com)
- Santander suspicious of Bernard Madoff in 2006 (telegraph.co.uk)