June 22, 2018
  • The Banking Protocol – a ground-breaking rapid response scheme – has led to 197 arrests and prevented almost £25 million of attempted fraud
  • The scheme means branch staff can immediately alert police and Trading Standards to suspected frauds taking place
  • 3,682 emergency calls have now been placed and responded to, with the average prevention per call equating to £6,720
  • The scheme has now been rolled out across the entire UK, with all 45 police forces using the process since March 2018

Figures published by UK Finance have revealed that £24.7 million of fraud has been prevented and 197 arrests made thanks to the introduction of the Banking Protocol, a ground-breaking scheme aimed at identifying and protecting potential fraud victims when they visit a bank or building society branch. The publication of the latest figures marks one year since a national roll-out of the scheme began in May 2017.

The Banking Protocol enables bank branch staff to contact police if they suspect a customer is in the process of being scammed, with an immediate priority response to the branch. UK Finance has led the development and implementation of the scheme, which is a partnership between the finance industry and police supported by National Trading Standards and the Joint Fraud Taskforce. Branch staff, call handlers, police and trading standards officers in each area have all been trained in the Banking Protocol and the steps that need to be taken when a customer is at risk.

The scheme was first introduced as a pilot in London during October 2016, before a national roll-out began in May 2017. Since March 2018 it has been implemented by all 45 police forces across the country. In that time it has led to 197 arrests across the country, while 3,682 emergency calls have now been placed and responded to through the scheme, with the average prevention per call equating to £6,720. In May 2018, the Banking Protocol prevented over £3m in fraud – a monthly record – while 17 arrests were made.

As well as stopping frauds taking place, the scheme ensures a consistent response to potential victims and gives them extra support to prevent them becoming a victim in the future. UK Finance has led the development and implementation of the Banking Protocol, with support from the National Trading Standards Scam team and the Joint Fraud Taskforce.

Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said:

“Fraud can have a devastating impact on victims and is often targeted at the most vulnerable people in society, which is why we must work together to prevent it.

“The Banking Protocol shows how close cooperation between the industry and law enforcement can help to protect victims and crack down on fraudsters.

“This kind of joined-up approach is crucial to stay one step ahead and ensure that unscrupulous scammers preying on customers are brought to justice.”

Head of the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Directorate, Detective Chief Superintendent Glenn Maleary, said:

“The scale and borderless nature of fraud means we are having to find new and innovative ways to protect the public and deter the criminals.  Banks are often the first point of contact for someone who is about to fall victim to fraud, so the Banking Protocol is a vital way of protecting vulnerable victims and preventing fraudsters from taking advantage of them.

“Since it was initiated, the Protocol has built its strength and though it is now preventing people losing millions of pounds to fraudsters, we have to remain vigilant to changing criminal trends and adapt accordingly.

“The City of London Police, as the national policing lead for fraud and collator of the Protocol’s performance data, is proud to show that it has had such a significant impact on the fight against fraud and that it will continue to do so.”

Louise Baxter from the National Trading Standards Scams Team said:

“Scams and fraud do huge damage to our society, particularly people in vulnerable situations who are deliberately targeted by criminals. Scams defraud people and – in addition to the financial damage – many victims are left feeling socially isolated, often too uncomfortable to tell their friends and family what has happened. It is time that we took a stand against scams. The banking protocol provides a consistent approach to dealing with victims and also provides local collaborative working which should only be encouraged.  The scourge of scams is a community issue and we all have our role to play.  I’d encourage anyone interested in stopping scams to visit the Friends Against Scams website www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk and sign up to take a stand against scams.”

Notes to Editor

  • Separate UK Finance figures revealed show that banks and card companies prevented £2 in every £3 of attempted unauthorised fraud in 2017. Combined total losses fell by 5 per cent to £731.8 million.
  • The finance industry is also responding to the ongoing threat of all types of fraud and scams by:
    • Helping to prevent customers being duped by criminals by raising awareness of how to stay safe through the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, in conjunction with the Home Office.
    • Sponsoring the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit, a specialist police unit which tackles the organised criminal groups responsible for financial fraud and scams. This has led to a combined value in savings and disruptions in criminal activity of close to £30 million in 2017, and an estimated £516 million in savings since it was set up in 2002.