It’s high time our banks took responsibility for their role in the fraud epidemic sweeping Britain.
Almost weekly, Money Mail hears from someone who has lost their life savings to an online fraudster.
Every time, we are fed the same tired line by the banks involved.
Each firm claims it did ‘everything in its power’ to prevent the fraud, says protecting customers is its ‘top priority’ and insists it met ‘all regulatory requirements’.
Threat: Almost weekly, Money Mail hears from someone who has lost their life savings to an online fraudster
But in the end, the customer is always somehow found culpable for allowing the fraud — so the victim is left out of pocket.
It all seems far too convenient for the banks, but it’s been extremely difficult to hold these high street giants accountable.
Until now. As our report on page 36 shows, almost every bank has been guilty of a dereliction of duty by allowing crooks to open 82 accounts using fake IDs.
Thanks to the police documents seen by Money Mail reporter Amelia Murray, which are thought to be the tip of the iceberg, we can for the first time reveal this is happening on a frightening scale.
So much for banks’ rigorous controls which are supposed to prevent money-laundering.
Why is it you need a seemingly endless series of ID to open a basic savings account at a bank where you’ve been a customer for decades, yet someone can so easily open one in a fake name?
If banks were doing their jobs in the first place, the fraudsters would find it far harder to carry out the devious online scams they use to rob people of their savings.
Our sources say the documents that were used to open the 82 accounts in question were incredibly realistic. And, privately, banks say they find it almost impossible spot good fakes.
It’s their fault if a criminal is abusing their systems, not ours.
It does not entitle them to wash their hands of all responsibility when customers lose their cash.
Talking of deceptions, how about the weasel words banks are using to close local branches and force us all online?
As the Mail revealed on Saturday, they are downplaying the number of customers who use branches and then using that as an excuse to shut them.
To be classed as a ‘regular weekly user’ at Lloyds, you need to visit 48 weeks out of 52 every year. That means if you go on holiday in the summer and don’t pop in over Christmas and Easter you can be excluded from the calculations.
For RBS-NatWest, the figure is 23 weeks out of the past 26.
Both companies say they take into account dozens of factors when shutting branches. But the ‘too few customers’ excuse always seems to be plastered on the signs announcing a closure.
How many would still be open if banks used a more realistic way of judging the number of regular customers they have?
We need an industry-wide standard that banks must adhere to that sets out the criteria for a branch closure. It should include total customers registered with a branch, numbers who visit on average every day, a breakdown of transactions and opening hours.
Then we’ll have the truth on the great branch closure cover-up.
After Money Mail exposed the shameful tactics that some firms use to flog funeral plans, the Treasury has launched a crackdown.
As we revealed in April, it wants to put the Financial Conduct Authority in charge of regulating the market over fears that the elderly are being harassed into taking out plans that will leave their families out of pocket.
The only way to ensure that justice is done is to provide the Government with evidence of what’s going on. John Glen, the economic secretary to the Treasury, has asked Money Mail to compile as many stories from our readers as possible.
It can be hard to talk about the death of a family member but if you’ve found that the plan they bought has left you out of pocket, let us know. By coming forward you’ll be doing an important public service that could help end this scandal.