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UK government urged to set 'minimum standards' for banks to adopt to combat online fraud

Banks should have to adhere to new "minimum standards", which the UK government should set, for combatting online fraud, a parliamentary committee has said.06 Dec 2017

In a new report, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) criticised the way banks address the risk of online fraud currently, and urged greater action from industry and the government.

"Banks have an important role to play in protecting customers but the protection they provide is variable and some are keener to invest in educating customers and anti-fraud technology than others," PAC said. "Banks can refuse to reimburse customers who have been scammed and ‘voluntarily’ transferred money, and shifting more responsibility onto banks for scams is likely to make them better at protecting customers."

"The [Home Office] should set out minimum standards for banks to follow on preventing online fraud and on protecting bank customers and require banks to report to government on their performance," it said.

The PAC also urged the Home Office to push banks to "make relative online fraud vulnerability performance data publicly available". It said there is currently "no data available" to assess how successful banks are in preventing and reducing online fraud and that customers "have the right to know at least something" about the record of banks in this regard.

"We expect the [Home Office] to provide us with a plan for publication of this data by spring 2018," the PAC said. "We encourage banks to develop a voluntary scheme in the meantime to be more open with customers about the extent of fraud and how they are tackling it."

The spending watchdog also called on the Home Office to do more to ensure that banks are making the best use of technology and data to "reduce card fraud and return money to customers".

"This should include establishing minimum technical standards for strong customer authentication for electronic payments," the PAC said.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported earlier this year that there had been more than five million cases of fraud and computer misuse offences recorded in England and Wales in in the year to March 2017.

The National Audit Office (NAO) also said in the summer that the government-established Joint Fraud Taskforce has "too narrow a focus on banking" and that its membership should be expanded "to include other stakeholders, such as the retail and digital sectors" to help fight against online fraud.