Mrs Higman (pictured) says the bank did not act quickly enough after money was stolen from her account
A fraudster stole more than £4,300 from a Royal Bank of Scotland customer despite giving the wrong answer to a security question.
Charlotte Higman lost thousands when a caller contacted to bank and managed to get into her account.
Then for more than a year afterward, RBS claimed she knew about the transaction and refused to give her the money back.
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) even backed the bank following her initial complaint, BBC Watchdog Live found.
Mrs Higman from Totnes, Devon, says RBS failed repeatedly to pick up on warnings raised during its security steps.
Audio of the fraudulent phone call reveals a woman gave the wrong answer when asked what Ms Higman’s job is.
But she still manages to get £4,318 approved. A warning is only raised on the account when the caller is unable to answer another question during a request for a second transaction.
Records held by RBS show that the January 2017 call was marked as a ‘potential account takeover’.
How did the fraudster target RBS customer?
Fraudster posed as Charlotte to ask for her account to be reset for security reasons.
Staff follow protocol and call Charlotte’s landline, which has been diverted to a mobile phone.
Security reset processes despite incorrect answer to security question.
Bank then allows cash transfer of £4,300.
Second request in the same call is denied but the bank does not recall original transfer.
RBS maintains that because it called home phone number it was clearly Mrs Higman making the transfer.
They also show that the caller failed voice recognition tests but was still able to proceed with the first transaction.
When Mrs Higman reported the incident to police, they told her that her phone line had been diverted, leading RBS to think they were speaking to her from home.
‘I just feel really angry that someone’s been able to do it that easily,’ she said. ‘The bank said that the person was in the home, they did the transactions from the home and they passed all the security questions correctly – and that’s why they believed that I’d done it.’
The fraudster called the bank before a voluntary code of conduct was introduced to protect against such scams.
The new standard says that if banks or customers fail to heed warnings they are liable for losses.
If this fraudulent call had occurred after the code’s introduction, RBS would have had to fork out.
Facility takeover fraud – which is when a fraudster uses personal data to hijack an account – rose seven per cent last year to more than 24,000 cases, fraud prevention service Cifas says.
Bank accounts are the most frequently targeted product and more than 100,000 cases were reported in the UK last year.
The FOS warned banks in recent months that customers should not automatically be blamed for money lost to scams.
The bank maintained that Mrs Higman must have known about the transaction as the fraud had diverted calls from her home phone number
It warned that ever-more sophisticated scammers should show it is wrong to put losses down to carelessness.
More than 2million people contacted the FOS last year to report issues relating to financial services.
A FOS spokesperson said victims of scams who feel their bank has not done enough to help should contact the group.
An RBS spokesperson told Watchdog Live: ‘We would like to apologise to Mrs Higman that the service provided fell short of the high standards we expect.
‘On review of Mrs Higman’s case, and in light of new information provided to us, we have refunded Mrs Higman in full for her loss.’
What can YOU do if your account or cards are targeted by fraudsters?
If fraudsters steal money from your bank account or credit card, there are a few immediate steps you must take.
Step One – Call your provider or bank and report any cards or money that has been stolen
Step Two – Have your provider or bank block any cards that have been taken in order to stop any more money going missing
Step Three – Report the theft to your local police department
Step Four – You must also register the incident with Action Fraud by clicking here or by calling 0300 123 2040
Card providers and banks can reimburse customers of money taken once they have investigated a fraud that has been through all the above steps and it has been investigated.
If you’re not satisfied with the response from your bank or provider once the fraud has been investigated, you should contact the FOS on 0800 023 4 567 or by visiting its website here.