New emergency hotline 159 will help bank customers beat fraudsters

New emergency hotline 159 will help bank customers beat fraudsters who conned victims out of £1.26bn last year

  • Bank customers who think they are being targeted by scammers pretending to be their bank will be able to call 159 to receive help
  • The national emergency hotline will be set up to put customers through to bank
  • An operator will give advice about whether they are being targeted by fraudster

UK banks are set to launch a new emergency hotline to help protect bank customers from fraudsters who conned victims out of £1.26 billion last year.   

Customers who think they are being targeted by scammers pretending to be their bank or other official bodies such as HM Revenue and Customs will be able to call 159 to receive help.

The national emergency hotline, which will run for a 12-month trial period, will be set up to put customers through to their bank.

Once a customer is connected, an operator will give advice about whether they are being targeted by fraudsters. 

UK banks are set to launch a new emergency hotline to help protect bank customers from fraudsters who conned victims out of £1.26 billion last year (file image)

It is understood the hotline will go live on Thursday.

According to The Times, the hotline is organised and funded by Stop Scams UK, a new industry body supported by the Financial Conduct Authority and Ofcom, the communications regulator.

Other banks and Global Cyber Alliance, an internet security firm, are also reported to be involved.

Banks hope the move will stop hundreds of millions of pounds being stolen by scammers each year, which costs banks tens of millions of pounds a year in refunds.

Scammers stole over £1.26bn through fraud and scams in 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic has presented new opportunities for scammers to exploit, according to data compiled by Stop Scams UK.  

Customers who think they are being targeted by scammers pretending to be their bank or other official bodies such as HM Revenue and Customs will be able to call 159 to receive help (file image)

Personal finance experts welcomed the move to create a new hotline but warned that scammers would try to intercept the calls. 

Martyn James, head of media at personal finance site Resolver, told the newspaper: ‘It’s vital that banks still invest heavily in technology and other anti-fraud measures that enable them to spot suspicious transactions on the front line and introduce second level checks before allowing potentially scammed money to leave an account.’

Ruth Evans, chairwoman of Stop Scams UK, said: ‘Fraud is cruel, it wrecks lives, and we’re determined to help people fight it.’

The idea was originally discussed by the Joint Fraud Taskforce, a body involving ministers, police and banks, four years ago.

Around £4million a day is now being lost to scams in the UK.

Fraudsters stole £753.9million in the first six months of this year, up 30 per cent from the same period last year, the banking industry said last week.

It is the first time that bank transfer scam losses – where customers are tricked into sending money to criminals – have outnumbered credit and debit card fraud.

Banking trade body UK Finance, which compiled the latest figures, warned that fraud now poses a national security threat, and said stolen money was being used to fund terrorism.

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