In 2017, almost five million people had money stolen from their bank or credit card account, according to The Independent. How does this happen, and what are the signs of bank fraud? If you’ve been involved in bank fraud, either as a perpetrator or victim, these are the standard stages of the bank fraud investigation process and what your next steps should be.
What is Bank Fraud?
Bank fraud is a term applied to any criminal incident where someone targets an individual or a bank by stealing money. When the victim is an individual, the perpetrator typically uses the victim’s credentials such as bank numbers from a stolen/lost card or another source or through identity theft. But it’s not just individuals who are targeted. Bank fraud also applies to instances where individuals sell their bank login details to fraudsters who use these accounts for money laundering. Another way fraudsters commit bank fraud is by using shop card machines to issue large refunds to their card. There are several ways bank fraud takes place, including attempted hacks of bank computer systems.
What is the Bank Fraud Investigation Process?
In the case of individuals being targeted, banks tend to follow a standard process as outlined below. Banks who have, themselves, been targeted are ramping up security measures to prevent breaches and are increasingly investigating large amounts of money deposited into accounts to ensure these sums aren’t linked to fraudulent activity.
Stage 1 – Detecting bank fraud
Tell-tale signs of bank fraud include unfamiliar payments showing up on a victim’s statement, or they might notice unexpected dips into their overdraft. These are things that might go noticed in regularly checked bank accounts and statements, but sometimes these things can go unnoticed for some time. If the fraud is happening via identity theft, the victim might receive correspondence such as bills or letters from debt collectors. However, banks might also notify victims of fraud if they think there is suspicious activity on the account, such as an unusually large payment. Victims should contact their bank in the first instance either by phoning their fraud helpline or by going into the branch.
Stage 2 – Investigating the Case
A common question is, ‘how long does it take for a bank to investigate fraud?’ Once notified of fraud, banks take immediate action to ensure your card is protected by pausing or cancelling the bank card in question and issuing a new one if necessary. This is also generally when victims would call Action Fraud to report the incident and get a crime reference number.
Stage 3 – Reimbursing stolen funds
Do banks reimburse stolen money? Generally speaking, banks should refund stolen money to victims in cases of bank fraud. This can take anywhere from a day to a few days, depending on the duration of the investigation. The only time the bank might refuse reimbursement is if they believe you were an accessory to fraudulent activity or were negligent with your bank security. Fraud victims might take the perpetrator to court if they were unable to retrieve the money from their bank.
If you are being taken to court for involvement in bank fraud, please contact our team of specialist fraud lawyers. St Pauls Barristers are experienced and highly skilled in fraud law and have a strong history of defending and prosecuting in fraud cases.