Victims of a notorious money transfer trick have been losing an average of almost £3,000 each, according to new figures.

Banking trade body UK Finance has been taking a closer look at so-called authorised push payment fraud. It has said that those duped lost £236m in total last year, and that banks were unable to return 74% of victims’ money.

Such fraud often occurs to people transferring money during a property transaction or when paying an invoice for work undertaken to their home. Victims believe they are transferring money to an official person such as a solicitor. However, they are instead being tricked by fraudsters who may have hacked emails or intercepted mails.

These scammers typically send a payment demand, posing as the legitimate business.

What else do we know about the epidemic?

This is the first time UK Finance has made calculations for these kinds of cases. It recorded 43,875 reported cases in total, with 88% of victims being customers, who lost £2,784 on average. The remaining victims were businesses losing an average of £24,355 per case.

A “super-complaint” was made in relation to this type of scam in September 2016. Consumer group Which? complained to regulators, urging banks to take on greater responsibility when victims are deceived in this manner. It said that the new figures indicated the “shocking scale” of such scams.

Which? made its complaint due to concerns that victims misled into transferring money via bank transfer to fraudsters were not legally entitled to their money back from their bank. It said that this differed from the situation with a lot of other payment methods.

The Payment Systems Regulator has since devised an action plan that should lead to improved protection for such consumers. Financial providers only returned 26% (£60.8m) of the losses from authorised push payment scams in 2017.

Tips for preventing ‘push’ fraud

You can protect yourself against ‘push’ scams in various ways, according to UK Finance. These include never assuming that an email, text or phone call is authentic, and never disclosing security details such as your PIN or full banking password. The body also urges potential targets not to be rushed, as genuine organisations will not mind waiting.

It’s also important to listen to your instincts and stay in control when something seems suspicious. Don’t panic yourself into making a regrettable decision.

Here at SmilePass, we are very familiar with the human fallibility that can lead to successful scams like these. It’s why we offer solutions developed by experts who know exactly how to prevent social engineering that could leave victims thousands of pounds out of pocket. Take a look at our Phishing Prevention brochure to find out more about how we can help protect your business.

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