Northamptonshire Police has signed up to the Banking Protocol, a national initiative designed to tackle fraud and help prevent people from becoming victims of financial crime.
A number of agencies and organisations, including the police, trading standards, banks, building societies and the Post Office, have signed up to the scheme, which aims to identify potential victims of fraud at the earliest opportunity to prevent any financial loss.
Detective Sergeant Simon Coles, from the force’s financial crime team, believes the protocol will help thwart fraudsters, particularly those who target the vulnerable and elderly with a variety of scams.
He said: “Fraudsters target people, often those who are elderly or vulnerable in some way, with a range of fraud offences including phone scams, investment scams and rogue trading, to name just a few.
“The victim is often convinced by the fraudster to attend a bank or post office in person to withdraw or transfer cash, and the offender will often accompany them while they do this.
“If bank staff are able to spot the signs that a person is being coerced or tricked into withdrawing or transferring money, then, with assistance from the police, that crime and loss of money can be prevented.”
According to UK Finance, which represents many of the UK’s finance, banking and payments-related services, by the end of August, the protocol had already resulted in nearly 900 emergency calls to police, helping to prevent more than £6m worth of fraud and contributed to 65 arrests.
DS Coles added: “Since its launch in Northamptonshire in September 2017, this protocol has saved victims over £35,000. Through the Banking Protocol, bank staff are encouraged to identify potential victims of fraud and report their concerns directly to the police, quoting a special password, meaning we can quickly get the relevant information and respond appropriately and immediately if necessary.
“Scammers often prey on the vulnerable and it’s important we get the message across that it’s okay to say no. Never feel pressured into agreeing for work to be done and always be suspicious if someone calls and asks you to share bank details or withdraw cash.
“Remember, banks, the police or fraud investigators will never ask you to transfer your money, buy high value goods or hand over bank cards or cash. Please never give out your personal banking details, these will never be asked for by the police or banks. If you are suspicious of anyone, hang up or shut the door and call the police.”
Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold said: “I welcome this move by the Force. Fraud is an increasing issue and one that can be difficult to prevent so this move to work in closer partnership with partners in the financial sector is welcome.
“This move will increase the ability to protect people from becoming victims of scams and frauds, particularly those that have a vulnerability, and make it more difficult for fraudsters to operate in Northamptonshire.”
More information about how to prevent fraud and reduce the risk of becoming a victim of financial crime can be found on the Action Fraud website at www.actionfraud.police.uk