Ruth Sunderland

Banks are doing too little, too late to combat online fraud

If the movie Bonnie and Clyde with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway is on TV again this Christmas, it might act as a reminder that the days when bank robbers used guns and getaway cars have been consigned to history.

Nowadays, thieves are armed with broadband, not bullets. They don’t need a getaway car because they don’t even need to be in the same country to clean out the coffers.

Online banking is convenient, and often the best interest rates are available on internet accounts only – but it’s also a bonanza for fraudsters. The banks are improving the situation for their customers, but it’s too little, too late.

They are desperate to get us all to migrate online, but for their benefit, not ours.

It’s much, much cheaper for them to have us banking on the internet, instead of doing annoying things like coming into a branch or writing cheques.

I’m no Luddite. Technology advances. Cash machines are a definite improvement on quill pens. The problem is that the consumer protection regime has not evolved to keep pace.

That has left customers vulnerable both to clever fraudsters and to their own minor errors that can have major consequences.

If my personal experience is anything to go by, the system is absolutely infested with cynical cyber-criminals, and you don’t have to be particularly gullible to be taken in.

I recently received an email, apparently from Amazon, saying there was a problem with a payment and asking me to click a link and re-enter my details.

As I had just made an order, and the email looked totally convincing, it almost had me fooled. Fortunately, I’m a bit of a detail freak so I checked the order number on the email against my Amazon account: it didn’t match.

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