Banks Discuss ‘555’ Emergency Hotline To Combat Fraud

Victims of bank fraud may soon find themselves with a new point of call, after minutes from September’s Joint Fraud Taskforce were published.

For banks, as well as their customers, it’s one of the most important topics of our time: How to protect the public and counter ever-growing online identity theft and bank fraud crime.

Now, some of the biggest banks in the country believe they’ve got an idea how to offer immediate help to victims.

The JFT meeting, which was also attended by Home Secretary Amber Rudd, saw senior executives of Britain’s biggest banks discuss the possibility of an emergency hotline for bank fraud victims. Similar to the ‘999′ emergency number, this new single-number telephone line – 555 was just one idea – would be designed to enable the public to easily report bank frauds and scams quickly.

According to the minutes, published by the Home Office, Brian Dilley from Lloyds Banking Group:

‘Outlined an early stage idea for a central reporting telephone number e.g. 555 that victims of fraud/scams could contact. At its simplest the number could be a triaging facility directing victims to the appropriate agency and at its most ambitious it could sit in front of enhanced data sharing/analytics which would take in all reporting and provide standardised reporting and a collective intelligence picture across fraud and money laundering.’

Banks Discuss ‘555’ Emergency Hotline To Combat Fraud

Currently, those who suspect they, or someone they know, are victims of fraud are advised to call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. That’s not a number that rolls off the tongue; the 555 concept, which is an ‘early stage idea’ would simplify that issue.

However, James Freedman, the City of London Police fraud ambassador, sounded a note of caution. He said:

‘The problem is that people may liken the number to 999 and expect an emergency response. In reality fraud can take time to investigate. However, it is vital to encourage more people to report scams, even in instances where they have got their money back or not fallen for them at all, as this is the only way the body of information available to the police will grow.’

Banks Discuss ‘555’ Emergency Hotline To Combat Fraud

Bank fraud, particularly those related to identity theft, have seen a massive spike over the past few years. Back in August, Cifas – a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to eliminating fraud prevention – revealed statistics that showed ‘epidemic levels’ of identity theft, with 89,000 cases reported in the first six months of the year alone.

That’s bad news for banks and their customers. But while many have condemned financial institutions for not acting quickly enough to combat the threat – a threat which has seen thousands suffer at the hands of unscrupulous criminals – it’s not entirely fair to say experts aren’t looking at the issue in-depth or are failing to navigate the murky world of bank fraud.

Initiatives such as the introduction of the easily memorable 555 emergency hotline, then, will be welcomed as another arrow in the quiver in the fight against scammers and protection for the public.

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