Illustration of UK Scams Premier League Tables

A recent regulatory decision to publicize data on how financial organizations respond to APP scams has unofficially kicked off the UK Scams Premier League. It’s a competition no organization wants to lose. Read on to learn what 14 UK payment firms must do to come out on top.

Since 2016, the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) and the payments industry have worked together to both prevent fraud and develop better mechanisms for reimbursing victims of authorized push payment (APP) scams. This included introducing the voluntary Contingent Reimbursement Model (CRM) Code, which began operating in 2019. This is basically a reserve of cash that signatories to the Code agree to fund. The PSR now wants to go further and is introducing a package of financial and reputational incentive measures to tackle APP scams that includes the publication of scam data.

The question for financial institutions and PSPs to face now is this: Do you want your organization to win the Scam Premier League? Or can you afford to lose? Read on to learn what UK PSPs and financial institutions must do to come out on top.

What Are the UK Scams League Tables?

The PSR recently announced its decision requiring payment service providers (PSPs) to publicly report data on APP scams. The decision has kicked off the UK Scams Premier League. As such, banks are now competing in the UK Scams Premier League Tables.

The PSR says that the purpose of collecting and publishing this data is to bring greater transparency into how financial institutions and payment firms are addressing APP scams. The effort, according to PSR’s website, will hold payment firms accountable for the way they handle scams. It also aims to push firms to do more to prevent scams and protect customers from falling victim to APP scams.

The directive will apply to 14 of the largest PSPs in the UK which covers 95% of transactions. Firms will be required to report:

  • The share of APP scam victims who do not get reimbursed
  • The rate of APP scams occurring at sending payment firms
  • The rate of APP scams occurring at receiving payment firms

Some consumer groups have compared the Scam Premier League to a “name and shame” campaign designed to expose the worst-performing financial services organizations.  Think of PSR’s new policy as a mix between The Scarlet Letter, The Hunger Games, and the infamous walk of atonement from “Game of Thrones.” In other words, it’s now a competition among UK banks to avoid being bottom of the league. Imagine how the fans (consumers) will feel if their team (bank) ranks at or near the bottom for reimbursing their victims or preventing scams in the first place. 

5 Steps for UK Banks to Stop APP Scams and Win the Scams Premier League 

With APP scams information now poised to become public, UK banks are facing the latest push to accept even greater liability for financial losses. This means UK banks will need to step up their scam prevention efforts if they want to do well to compete.  

Here are five things UK banks can do to implement an effective scam prevention strategy and avoid having to publicize an unflattering league position. 

1. Ensure scam prevention solutions include responsive detection

Traditional security measures are designed to detect outside threats like malware and account takeover attacks. Scams, on the other hand, are very hard to detect. That’s because they are, after all, authorized transactions. But that doesn’t mean catching scams is impossible. Banks need to have responsive detection capabilities to identify suspicious behaviors such as acting under duress or manipulation, multiple transactions with a new recipient, or making bank transfers at an unusual time of day.

2. Educate customers on scam threats

Customers have one of the most critical roles to play in protecting themselves against scams. Banks must take time to educate customers on common types of fraud and APP scams, such as investor scams, romance scams, phishing, vishing attacks, and more. An effective educational awareness campaign should remind customers that banks will never request their bank account information and to pause before approving high-value transfers.

3. Train staff to identify scam activities

Bank customers aren’t the only ones who need guidance. It’s also important to train bank personnel to understand how scams work and identify new patterns as they emerge. Banks should train staff to spot suspicious activity that could indicate a scam is underway. This includes customers who suddenly want to make large-value withdrawals or add new payment recipients. If bank personnel is trained to spot these signs they can intervene to alert customers that they may be getting scammed.

4. Make efficient usage of data

The most important tool banks have at their disposal to stop scams and earn a higher league position is their data. This means knowing who bank customers are at a granular level by studying how they normally interact with the bank. Banks can collect this data and use it to build a unique digital fingerprint of the user’s behaviors. Having this baseline understanding makes it easier to detect if a customer is under a scammer’s influence. For example, a customer who normally uses their bank’s mobile app suddenly transacts through a website. Or a customer who always writes checks suddenly making a series of person-to-person transfers. 

5. Implement behavioral biometrics 

Understanding customers’ normal patterns isn’t enough. Banks also need to understand how customers engage with their devices and networks to trust their interactions. This means building digital trust from both behavioral biometrics and behavioral analytics. On behavioral biometrics, for example, banks must know how a customer normally touches their smartphone screen, how quickly they type on a keyboard, or how they move their mouse. Sudden changes in these behaviors, such as a customer rapidly moving their phone to their ear instead of keeping the phone on speaker could be a sign that the customer is in a frantic state. This could be the first sign that they are being scammed and an opportunity for banks to prevent them from facing financial losses.

The UK Scams Premier League is now officially underway! Don’t let your bank go into this competition unprepared. Prevention is the best strategy. Feedzai provides the technology, tactics, and skills for intercepting scams at multiple points in the game.