Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (BHH), The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, in a recent interview with The Times said, providing online fraud refunds to customers was a ‘Reward…for bad behaviour’. He says, that to encourage better online security, only victims of fraud with the appropriate security software should receive refunds. This ill-conceived idea from the highest ranking police officer in the country is not only embarrassing because of the glaring legal flaw but says more about his inability to manage online fraud than the victims’ security software.
There is an important word that BHH seems to have avoided, victims. Am I to blame if I am assaulted by a stranger because I did not learn karate? Surely, fraud is one hundred percent the fault of the perpetrator? Yet BHH wants the victims twice punished, once for the emotional impact and the second time by not receiving their refund. It could be the victim’s life savings. Perhaps, it has escaped BHH notice that The Consumer Credit Act1 protects against fraud and the law requires the banks to refund their customers.
I would suggest that the police ignore cybercrime, with fewer than 1 in 100 cases investigated this would make an unfortunate headline for the police. From July 2016, for the first time, cybercrime will be included in the crime figures. Ouch! According to Financial Fraud Action UK losses from remote banking fraud increased 72% in the United Kingdom in 2015. It is convenient for BHH to blame the victims when his team of experts cannot catch the Hackers and Phishers.
BHH refers to “adequate protection” but what does that mean? Most people do have software security on their systems. Antivirus software protection comes in many forms. These include open source programmes which are free and can be as good as a paid for antivirus package. Software capabilities vary depending on the computer’s operation system. There is not an antivirus product on sale which provides a ‘one size fits all’ solution and banks should not be allowed to dictate a customer’s brand of software, operating system or a combination of the two.
If we remove the responsibility from banks to protect against fraud, there will be no incentive for banks to invest in security. Banks are best placed to monitor account access and spending patterns. I have first-hand experience. Santander closed a bank account when they identified suspicious behaviour on my account. I was unlikely to identify the problem until my statement arrived. Fortunately, they acted quickly.
The solution to online fraud is not to blame those who have suffered loss nor to force people into buying new technology they may not be able to afford. Fraudsters are cracking security codes at an alarming rate. Customers will be left without legal protection if they lack the means to buy the latest software. Justice should not have two tiers, one for those who have what is deemed ‘acceptable‘ software packages. These victims would receive a refund. The second level being no justice for those who do not have “adequate protection” and suffer loss. They would not receive a refund. They are also more likely to be the people most in need of protection because they are not in a financial position to update their software. It is for the police to resolve the problem of fraud, which, I believe still is a crime.
In addition to any virus software being used I recommend Rapport.
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