Financial Ombudsman sees 30% increase in “authorised” scam complaints

Press release

Data shows too many scam victims are not being treated fairly by banks.

Complaints about “authorised” scams increased by 30% in the second quarter of this financial year, when compared to the same period in 2020/21.

The Financial Ombudsman Service received a total of 4,488 complaints about fraud and scams from July to September 2021 and upheld over 60% in the consumers’ favour. Of this figure, 2,243 complaints were about “authorised” scams compared to 1,725 in July - September 2020.

The increase in the number of people falling victim to scams reflects increased spending online and more fraudster activity during the pandemic. The Financial Ombudsman Service is continuing to uphold around three quarters of “authorised” scam complaints in the consumers’ favour.

The vast majority of “authorised” scam complaints are authorised push payments (APP) where the victim is tricked into making bank transfers to an account posing as a legitimate payee. However, the Financial Ombudsman also sees disputes about whether or not the consumer authorised a payment or withdrawal with their bank card.

Overall, almost three quarters of the “authorised” scam complaints that the Financial Ombudsman receives are about consumers not receiving the goods or services that they’ve ordered; where a scammer has tricked a consumer to move their money to a ‘safe account’ by telling them their bank account has been compromised; and investment scams.

Commenting on the new figures, Financial Ombudsman Service interim Chief Executive and Chief Ombudsman, Nausicaa Delfas, said:

It’s a real concern that we are continuing to see an increase in scam complaints, particularly when shopping online. With the festive period approaching, it’s vital that people are extra vigilant with their finances. If people feel they have not been treated fairly by their banks, we are here to help.

Notes to editors

About the Financial Ombudsman Service

The Financial Ombudsman Service was set up by Parliament to resolve individual complaints between financial businesses and their customers on a fair and reasonable basis, as an alternative to the courts. It can look into problems involving most types of money matters from payday loans to pensions, pet insurance to PPI. It is committed to sharing insight and experience to encourage fairness and confidence in financial services.

What is an “authorised” scam?

An “authorised” scam is when a person or business is tricked into sending money to a fraudster posing as a genuine account holder.

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