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Call for banks and charities to do more to protect scam victims

22 Jun 2016

Banks and charities should take greater responsibility for those who may be vulnerable to scams, including delaying payments while family members are alerted, according to the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI).

The CTSI commissioned a report from Bournemouth University's National Centre for Post-Qualifying Social Work into scam victims, and its recommendations to financial institutions and charities include:

  • recognising their duty of care to dementia sufferers who could make an ‘unwise decision’ as a result of their cognitive state
  • allowing vulnerable people to put a 24 hour delay on new or large transactions from leaving their bank accounts and sending an email or text alerting a carer or loved one at the start of that period
  • adopting a default that personal data is not shared without a clear opt in and that it is not held for longer than 12 months before permission is sought again.

This last measure is an attempt to prevent the creation of lists of vulnerable people, which are sold between criminals. According to Trading Standards officers, there are nearly 200,000 potential victims on such lists, who may be targeted by mail or doorstep scams. Victims of scam mail have an average age of 74, and have typically lost more than £1,000.

Leon Livermore, CTSI chief executive, stated: ‘Vulnerability is not a term that is defined in law, which means it is difficult for professionals to introduce measures to protect vulnerable people.

‘We believe that banks and charitable organisations can do more without the need for legislation and that these relatively straightforward asks would lead to a dramatic reduction in detriment.   

‘Adult social care faces a massive funding shortfall and people who are scammed are much more likely to need support. These measures will protect our ageing population and reduce the burden on the state.’

Payments UK, which oversees the way transactions are made, said the idea of a payment delay had not previously arisen in consultations about scams. A spokesperson said: ‘All the banks offer different services and products to help vulnerable people manage their finances, and we would urge a customer to speak to their bank if they want to find out more’.

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