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£500k of fraud prevented as new Banking Protocol introduced – expect questions from banks!

A ground-breaking rapid response scheme – the Banking Protocol – means local banking branch staff can alert police and Trading Standards to suspected frauds taking place to prevent fraud.

The new fraud prevention scheme aimed at identifying and protecting potential fraud victims when they visit a bank or building society branch has stopped more than £9 million being passed to criminals in its first year of operation, figures from UK Finance show.

The Banking Protocol, developed as a partnership between the finance industry, Police and Trading Standards, enables bank staff to contact police if they suspect a customer is in the process of being scammed, with a rapid response to the branch. Locally we have heard in practice this can take the form of extra questions on withdrawals or bank transfers, for example if you are buying a car they may check if you have seen the car and if it is real.

The Banking Protocol was first launched in October 2016 with a pilot in London, before a national rollout began in May. North Wales Police launched the scheme on the 18th of September 2017 along with the other three Welsh forces.

It is now in place in 43 police forces across the country, with all remaining forces in the UK committed to introducing it.

UK Finance is a new trade association which was formed earlier this year to represent the finance and banking industry operating in the UK. It represents around 300 firms in the UK providing credit, banking, markets and payment-related services. The new organisation brings together activities previously carried out by the Asset Based Finance Association, the British Bankers’ Association, the Council of Mortgage Lenders, Financial Fraud Action UK, Payments UK and the UK Cards Association.

Nationally, in the 12 months since the pilot was launched until the end of October 2017, the Banking Protocol has prevented £9.1 million of fraud, with individual customers protected from losing sums from £99 up to £212,000. So far, the scheme has led to 101 arrests being made across the country, with police responding to a total of 1262 Banking Protocol calls.

In North Wales, over half a million pounds has been prevented from being lost due to fraud, with one arrest made since the Protocol was launched. DCI Brian Kearney stated: “Through effective working with local banks and financial institutions, we have so far safeguarded people from being scammed into transferring or withdrawing money by fraudsters. The reality is these fraudsters are very convincing. They will use various techniques claiming to be from a company, the police, Inland Revenue and even the customers own bank in an attempt to get the victim to transfer funds to them”

Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said: “Fraud can have a devastating effect on some of the most susceptible people in society and it’s by working together with law enforcement, and others, that we can make a real difference when it matters most. The Banking Protocol is a great example of this collaboration in action protecting people from becoming victims. The finance industry is determined to crack down on fraud and is taking action on all fronts – the Protocol is an important weapon in our armoury.”

UK Finance has led the development and implementation of the Banking Protocol with support from the National Trading Standards Scam team and the Joint Fraud Taskforce.

As well as stopping frauds taking place, the scheme ensures a consistent response to potential victims and gives them extra support to prevent them becoming a victim in the future. The Post Office is also part of the Protocol.

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