Bank fraud has cost British consumers nearly 610 million pounds ($679 million) so far this year, posing a national security threat, lobby group UK Finance said on Thursday.
Although fraud levels fell 13% from an exceptional spike in the first half of 2021, as lockdowns to curb COVID-19 forced more consumers online, it said there was no downward trend.
The level of bank fraud “must be considered a national security threat,” Katy Worobec, UK Finance’s managing director of economic crime, said in a statement.
UK Finance renewed calls on the government for a cross-industry response as banks battle increasingly complex scams.
“When it comes to fraud, financial service providers need to adopt the mindset of ‘not if, but when’,” Colum Lyons, CEO of identity verification company ID-Pal, said.
More than 609.8 million pounds was stolen through bank fraud and scams in the first half of 2022, UK Finance said, while unauthorised fraud losses across payment cards and remote banking stood at almost 361 million pounds, down 9%.
Authorised push payment (APP) fraud losses, where victims are tricked into making payments by scam phone calls, text messages, emails, fake websites and social media posts, came to just under 250 million pounds, a drop of 17%, it added.
Scams in which people paid for goods that never materialised now account for 56% of all APP scams reported – and although APP fraud has fallen compared to the 2021 period, it is more than 30% above the same period in 2020.
There was also a sharp rise in romance scams, where fraudsters persuade victims to hand over cash by convincing them they are in a relationship, leapt by 31% to 16.6 million pounds.
As soaring food and energy prices hit family finances, research by TSB bank showed three fifths of households report they would struggle to afford food for more than a week after losing up to 500 pounds to fraud, compared to a third in 2021.