JEFF PRESTRIGE: Unmasking the banks that shun victims of fraud

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JEFF PRESTRIGE: Exposing banks that avoid fraud victims – that would make them think twice before systematically rejecting a cry for help

Transparency makes the world of personal finance fairer. Unfortunately, many nearsighted financial companies resist it, even though it tends to work in their long-term business best interest.

A few years ago, I remember some financial protection insurance companies screaming wolf about their intention to get them to disclose the details of their claims data. Yet the information, now made available by most insurers (unfortunately, not all), has helped dispel some of the myths surrounding industry claims handling that more is rejected than accepted.

By releasing data showing that complaint acceptance rates are often above 85 percent, the industry has succeeded in restoring consumer confidence in its products. Yes, critical illness coverage does pay out if a person has a stroke. Likewise, income protection insurance will pay out regular income if an insured suffers from a serious long-term illness.

Liability: While we know that more than half of the money lost by customers to “wire transfer” scams is not refunded, data on refund rates is not universally available.

Now is the time for transparency to apply to banks’ treatment of customers who have been the victims of “wire transfer” scams by fraudsters. While we know that more than half of the money lost by customers to such scams is not refunded, data on refund rates is not universally available. Only Barclays and TSB play ball, mainly because their payback rates are well above the industry average. Others, shamefully, hide under a convenient cloak of anonymity.

Given this inconsistent approach to victims of fraud, it is high time that banks were required by the Payment Systems Regulator to publish repayment rates on a regular basis. Customers could then get an idea of ​​whether their bank is playing hard or fair. The fact that the industry flag, UK Finance, vehemently opposes such a move is one more reason why transparency should be imposed on banks. As our mailbag indicates, too many victims of scams are treated unfairly.

Of course, transparency wouldn’t end that, but some banks would think twice before systematically rejecting a call for help from a fraud victim.

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It is blindingly obvious that shared bank branches could help stop the decline of Main Street. As Toby Walne reports, such a branch (a banking hub) is transforming the fortune of Cambuslang just outside Glasgow by giving residents and local businesses access to banking services. And if it works in Cambuslang, there is no reason why such hubs cannot revitalize other communities that have found themselves without a bank.

The time for the banking hub has come. Banks, regulators and those in government know this. They should therefore move heaven and earth so that hubs become a common feature of the main street from top to bottom of the country.

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Tomorrow marks the start of Carers Week, an annual campaign highlighting the challenges many unpaid caregivers across the country face in caring for family and friends.

Supported by many charities, including Age UK and the Motor Neurone Disease Association, the goal of Carers Week is also to recognize the tremendous work done by unpaid caregivers. Work mainly motivated by love.

So, to all caregivers, keep doing a brilliant job. And to those who know someone who takes care of a family member or friend, give them a ring – or visit them – and tell them how noble they are. More details on carersweek.org.





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