New bank transfer fraud protection measure launches in the UK

Transferring money
(Image credit: Pixabay)

A new service for online banking customers has launched which checks the name of the person you’re transferring money to against the name on the account. 

Confirmation of Payee (CoP) will be used by banks in the UK as another part of an expanding range of checks aimed at preventing fraudulent transfer activity.

The scheme, which has suffered several delays, was originally meant to launch in July of 2019, but the date was subsequently moved to 31 March 2020 before being delayed further by the coronavirus pandemic.

Payment checks

CoP is designed to carry out a cross-check of a payee’s name to ensure that their details match up with the information held on UK banking systems. If the payment details get flagged up as being suspect then your bank is supposed to raise the issue with you and offer advice on what to do next. Just as long as it is participating in the scheme.

Before CoP only the sort code and account number were checked in order to ensure transfers were correct and above board. Payee names have been largely ignored, often resulting in fraudsters using the lax measures to carry out scams.

However, CoP will only be used to check Faster Payments, standing orders and CHAPS payments in the UK. The services won't currently be used to check BACS payments and direct debits. Crucially, both banks in the transfer chain will also need to be signed up for the service for it to work.

Financial industry commentators are suggesting that the new anti-fraud measures are too little, too late. Financial fraud expert Joe Bloemendaal, Head of Strategy at Mitek says that banks ought to focus on more thorough verification of every new customer when they first sign up.

“This new rule doesn’t go far enough,” he says. “It will go some way to preventing bank transfer fraud, but it’s not enough to put fraudsters off forever. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen fraudsters using more and more sophisticated methods to steal our money. In response, banks must start using more sophisticated technologies to fight them off. 

Bloemendaal suggests that using AI, ML, and digital identity verification to stop fraudsters before they get their hands on a bank account would be more effective. UK consumers lose £145 million to bank transfer fraud annually. 

“For a more watertight anti-fraud solution, banks should adopt more thorough identity verification of every new account owner at the onboarding stage,” adds Bloemendaal. “Gone are the days when this was only possible in-person. Now, digital identity verification technologies can do this in minutes on a mobile, as new customers take a selfie and a photo of their ID document."

"Anti-forgery AI checks the ID document is legitimate, and liveness detection checks the selfie is really being taken by the account opener. Then, machine learning algorithms verify the two against each other. If necessary, human experts can step in, adding an additional layer of verification.”

Via Which?

Rob Clymo

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.