New emergency hotline 159 will help bank customers defeat fraudsters who have scammed victims out of £1.26bn
New emergency hotline 159 will help bank customers beat fraudsters who defrauded victims of £1.26bn last year
- Bank customers who believe they are being targeted by scammers posing as their bank can call 159 to get help
- There will be a national emergency line to connect customers to the bank
- An operator advises whether they are the target of fraudsters
British banks are planning to launch a new emergency telephone line to protect bank customers from fraudsters who defrauded victims of £1.26bn last year.
Customers who believe they are being targeted by scammers impersonating their bank or other official bodies such as HM Revenue and Customs can call 159 to get help.
The nationwide emergency line, which will run for a 12-month trial period, is being set up to connect customers to their bank.
Once a customer is connected, an operator advises whether they are being targeted by fraudsters.
UK banks to launch new emergency hotline to protect bank customers from fraudsters who defrauded victims of £1.26bn last year (file image)
Obviously, the hotline will go live on Thursday.
According to The Times, the hotline is being organized and funded by Stop Scams UK, a new industry association backed by the Financial Conduct Authority and Ofcom, the communications regulator.
Other banks and Global Cyber Alliance, an internet security firm, are also said to be involved.
Banks hope the move will prevent hundreds of millions of pounds from being stolen by scammers every year, costing banks tens of millions of pounds a year in repayments.
Scammers stole more than £1.26 billion in fraud and scams in 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic has opened up new opportunities for scammers to exploit, according to data collected by Stop Scams UK.
Customers who believe they are being targeted by scammers impersonating their bank or other official bodies such as HM Revenue and Customs can call 159 to get help (file image)
Personal finance experts welcomed the move to create a new hotline but warned scammers would try to intercept the calls.
Martyn James, head of media at the personal finance site Resolver, told the newspaper: “It is vital that banks continue to invest heavily in technology and other anti-fraud measures that allow them to identify suspicious transactions on the front lines and implement second-line checks before possibly scammed money to leave a bill.”
Ruth Evans, President of Stop Scams UK, said: ‘Fraud is cruel, it destroys lives and we are determined to help people fight it.’
The idea was originally discussed four years ago by the Joint Fraud Taskforce, a body of ministers, police and banks.
About £4 million a day is now lost to scams in the UK.
Fraudsters stole £753.9 million in the first six months of this year, 30 per cent more than in the same period last year, the banking sector said last week.
It is the first time that the losses from wire transfer scams – which trick customers into sending money to criminals – have outpaced credit and debit card fraud.
Banking trade association UK Finance, which compiled the latest figures, warned that fraud now poses a threat to national security and said stolen money was being used to finance terrorism.