£1.3bn stolen through fraud and scams last year, warns UK Finance

More than £1.3 billion was stolen through fraud and scams in 2021, figures from UK Finance can reveal.

The trade association, which represents around 300 financial services firms in the UK, said that unauthorised fraud - where the account holder does not provide authorisation and the transaction is carried out by a criminal - accounted for £730 million of the total amount.

During the 12-month period, the banking and finance industry was able to prevent a further £1.4 billion of unauthorised fraud.

Overall, this kind of fraud declined by seven per cent compared to 2020.

However, authorised push payment (APP) fraud - which made up £583 million of losses last year - is on the rise.

40 per cent of these losses were down to impersonation scams, as criminals took advantage of people’s doubts and fears during the pandemic.

Around 47 per cent of losses, or £271 million, were returned to the victims of APP scams.

UK Finance said that, given much of the fraud takes place via online and on technology platforms, its members have long-been calling for “greater cross-sector action” and are continuing to work with the government on the upcoming Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill.

“Through the introduction of new measures such as strong customer authentication, coupled with continued investment in technology, the banking and finance industry prevents significant amounts of fraud from taking place,” said Katy Worobec, managing director of Economic Crime at UK Finance. “Authorised fraud losses rose again this year as criminals targeted people through a variety of sophisticated scams, with much of the criminal activity taking place outside the banking sector, often involving online and technology platforms.”

Kate Frankish, chief business development officer and anti-fraud lead at Pay.UK, said that the numbers provide “further worrying proof” of the scale and seriousness of fraud taking place in the UK.

“We need to fight together, with better collaboration and knowledge sharing between banks, the government, regulators, telecoms and social media companies, and law enforcement,” continued Frankish. “We need to increase public awareness of the risks of fraud. And we need to share data and technology that can spot the crime and enable banks and payment providers to intervene before it happens – something that Pay.UK is already leading.”

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