New high in number of complaints about fraud and scams

Money transfer frauds are a scourge on the rise
Money transfer frauds are a scourge on the rise
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A surge in consumer complaints about fraud and scams has helped push the overall number of gripes seen by the financial ombudsman to its highest levels in five years.

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), which resolves cases when consumers and financial firms cannot come to an agreement, said the overall number of new complaints it saw in 2018-2019 increased by 14 per cent annually to 388,392 – despite a decrease in PPI complaints.

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PPI (payment protection insurance) is the biggest area of dispute that the FOS has ever seen, with a total of more than two million complaints recorded.

But for the first time in 10 years, PPI complaints made up less than half of new complaints received, accounting for 46 per cent of the total in 2018-19.

And while grievances about PPI appear to be dying down as the August 29 deadline approaches, complaints about some other products and services are on the increase.

Complaints about fraud and scams increased by 43 per cent in 2018-2019, with 12,195 new complaints received – a record annual total for the service, which started collecting such figures in 2015-16.

Authorised push payment (APP) fraud – where someone is tricked into transferring money directly to a fraudster – is one of the fastest-growing types of fraud, the ombudsman said.

A new voluntary code to help victims of APP fraud is being introduced in May as part of efforts to tackle the issue.

Caroline Wayman, chief ombudsman, said: “People manage their money in a variety of ways, and fraud and scams are becoming ever more sophisticated. We know from the complaints we see that banks aren’t always treating victims of fraud fairly. They must do better.

“Too often we see that the interests of consumers are not hard-wired into financial services. This marks a five-year high in the number of complaints that consumers have brought to us, and the behaviour we’ve seen from some businesses is simply not good enough. While we do see examples of businesses responding well to customer concerns, we also see many firms who don’t. Our message to businesses is that practices must improve.”