“I was scammed, and the bank won’t help”

That is sadly one of the most common starts to a call at Reassura. Why do we get this call so often? Well, according to Which? Phone and text message fraud was up 83% over the past 12 months. According to FinanceUK the Police investigate 15% cases and 1 in 700 cases is successfully prosecuted. So over 99% of cases will not be rectified by the Police.

The calls we get tend to be where victims have been scammed into to transferring money online to a fraudsters account. Sometimes that can start with a scam text, such as a Hermes parcel one, fraudsters then use those details to contact the victim impersonating their bank and get them to transfer funds. Others have thought they were paying a builder, or for a villa rental etc, but the net result is the same. Now, some readers may remember back in 2019 when most, but not all major UK banks signed up to a voluntary code to help victims of fraud. Unfortunately, your bank can refuse the refund if you:

  • Ignored warnings that the payment might be part of a scam
  • Did not reasonably believe you were paying someone genuine
  • Were grossly negligent

Many of us wanted more than a code which had so much wiggle room for the banks to avoid refunding victims, and to that end there are still a lot of victims not being refunded by their bank, in fact according to Finextra only 40% of defrauded clients receive a refund from their bank. So, if it happens, what do you do.

  • Tell your bank – as soon as you realise something is amiss, there may still be a chance to recover your money. While reporting the fraud to the bank ask to speak to the fraud team, ask for the payment to be stopped and how to obtain a refund. While doing this try to record how long it was after the transfer that you called, how long the bank took to answer the call and how fast they reacted. Those details may help you later.
  • The bank says they can’t recover the funds and it was my fault, what do I do now? – The next step is to write to your bank with a letter of complaint. Which? have an excellent template for the letter on their website which victim’s should use.
  • They still said no! What now? – In your letter you will have threatened to go to the Financial Ombudsman and that is what you need to do. You can lodge your complaint online, click here. Many callers have asked if there is any point to this step, and it is definitely worthwhile, with according to Finextra 50% of the Banks’ negative decision being reversed by the Ombudsman.
  • That didn’t work, any last resorts? – Personal finance journalists have had quite a lot of success shaming banks into refunds, so pick a few and email them your case details.

Hopefully the majority of our readers will not need this guide, but we hope this helps those that do need to navigate this maze. Please read our alerts and guides, watch our videos, and hopefully avoid being a victim, but if it does happen, we are here to help.