NatWest has become the most complained about bank for fraud as the overall level of fraud continues to rise with 84,000 people losing money in 2018.
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) named the bank as the most complained of following a 62% rise in the number of complaints about how it handled cases.
Consumer group Which? reported fears that NatWest and its sister bank RBS were being targeted by criminals after more than half the calls received by its helpline were from customers of both banks
The BBC Watchdog Live programme also reported receiving nearly twice as many complaints about the way cases are being handled than any other bank.
Lawyer Arun Chaunhan, a member of the Fraud Advisory Panel, has told the BBC: “There’s a growing body of evidence that they’re falling behind other banks and how they’re dealing with fraud.
“On the front end side is their ability to pick up these transactions that are fraudulent and stop them in the first place, but second is how they’re dealing with customers. Are they being fair to customers?”
Ex-policeman Kevin Patrick was one of ‘many viewers’ who got in touch with the BBC after being defrauded of £11,000 in June 2018. His computer was hacked in a sophisticated scam which gave the fraudsters access to both his HSBC and NatWest online accounts.
First an attempt was made to take money from the HSBC account which was stopped by the bank and flagged as fraudulent. But after that failure the fraudsters moved on to his NatWest account and managed to steal £11,000.
When the theft was discovered NatWest initially refused to compensate Mr Patrick for his loss, but later admitted it did not get is right and ‘wholeheartedly apologised for the distress caused’.
Mr Patrick commented: “The way the bank dealt with it is appalling – they’ve blamed me as a customer. Basically they’re saying that because I turned the computer on it’s my fault.”
“As a former police officer, I find that really offensive because that’s like blaming you as a victim.”
Mr Chaunhan said: “NatWest somehow have not picked this up as an unusual transaction, £11,000 out of the blue. It is an odd transaction. HSBC clearly have something that works and NatWest on this occasion have something that doesn’t.”
A FOS spokesperson said: “Increasingly sophisticated scams could account for the significant increase in fraud and scams complaints we’ve seen.
“Customers who are unhappy with how their bank has dealt with their complaint should get in touch to see if we can help.”
A spokesman for NatWest said: “Since February, we’ve carried out additional checks on more than 11,000 payments and stopped £8.7m of potential scam payments after alerting our customers.
“When customers do become victim to fraud or scams, we treat each case individually and constantly update our processes and procedures to ensure they are fair and above or in-line with the industry and guidance from the ombudsman and regulators. Consequentially complaints to FOS have decreased by 48%.”