BBC Watchdog programme has found that an RBS customer had £4,318 stolen from her account by a fraudster who answered one of her security questions incorrectly. Incredibly this whole saga went on for over a year as the bank refused to refund Charlotte Higman, saying she had been aware of the transaction.

Charlotte went to the Financial Ombudsman Service who investigated and found in favour of the bank. However RBS has now apologised and given Charlotte a full refund, following the BBC’s investigation. The programme managed to obtain a recording of the fraudster posing as Charlotte to the bank and can be heard incorrectly answering a security question. Despite this the bank approved a transaction of £4,318 and it was only after the caller requested a second transaction, and was unable to answer the additional security question that a warning was issued on Charlotte’s account.

The bank’s own records show that the phone call, in January 2017, was marked as a “potential account takeover” and the caller failed the bank’s voice recognition checks. Despite this, the initial transaction was not reversed. After reporting the call to the police, Charlotte discovered her phone line was diverted on the day of the call, explaining why the bank believed they were speaking to her at her home address.

“I just feel really angry that someone’s been able to do it that easily,” Charlotte told Watchdog. The bank said that the person was in the home, they did the transactions from the home and they passed all the security questions correctly – and that’s why they believed that I’d done it.”

Bank accounts remain the most targeted by fraudsters with more than 100,000 reported cases in the UK last year alone. Because of this the Financial Ombudsman Service has warned banks to stop automatically blaming their customers for money lost to fraud. FOS said that the growing Refinement or fraudsters means it is wrong to assume losses are because of customers being careless with their personal information.

A FOS spokesperson said: “We have made it clear to the banks that it’s not fair to automatically blame a customer when they’ve lost money due to a scam, especially given the sophisticated way criminals exploit banks’ security systems. When we look at complaints, we have to carefully weigh up the evidence provided by both parties to decide what we think is fair and reasonable in all the circumstances. We’re pleased that Charlotte’s complaint has now been resolved, and she’s got her money back. If you’ve been the victim of a scam, and you feel your bank should have done more to help, please get in touch with us.”

After being contacted by Watchdog Live, an RBS spokesperson said: “We would like to apologise to Mrs Higman that the service provided fell short of the high standards we expect. On review of Mrs Higman’s case, and in light of new information provided to us, we have refunded Mrs Higman in full for her loss.”

Stay safe from financial crime:

Have you received an unexpected call, email or text asking you to provide personal information? Just because someone knows some of your personal details it does not mean they are genuine. They may know your full name, address, maiden name etc, but they could be a fraudster looking to extract more information from you in order to gain access to your bank account and your money.

    1. 1. A bank or trusted organisation will never contact you asking for your PIN of full password, or to transfer money to a ‘Safe Account’.

2. Never give out your personal or financial details unless you are 100% sure who you are talking to.

3. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text. This could give a fraudster access to your personal details.

4. Always question people who contact you through cold-calling. Under new legislation brought in this year, it is now illegal to cold-call and individual unless you have given your specific agreement for them to do so.

5. If you are in any doubt about who a caller is, end the call. You can always call the company back when you have obtained the company’s number from a legitimate and trusted source.