The head of the Metropolitan Police has called on banks to stop offering refunds to all online banking fraud victims, arguing that the current system essentially rewards people for their lax internet security.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said that if refunds were not guaranteed, it would force the general public to be more vigilant about their online security.

Internet banking fraud resulted in huge losses of £133.5 million last year, a year-on-year jump of a massive 64%.At present if you are the victim of online fraud you can expect to receive a full refund, unless the bank or card supplier can prove you have been “grossly negligent".

But Sir Bernard told The Times this system means people are “continually rewarded for bad behaviour”.

“The system is not incentivising you to protect yourself,” he told the newspaper. “If someone said to you ‘if you’ve not updated your software I will give you half back,’ you would do it.”

"Astonishingly misjudged"

However, Sir Bernard’s comments have not gone down well with consumer groups.

“With online fraud increasing, this is an astonishingly misjudged proposal from the Met Police Commissioner,” said Which? Executive director Richard Lloyd. “When we investigated last year, we found too often that banks were dragging their feet when dealing with fraud. The priority should be for banks to better protect their customers, rather than trying to shift blame on to the victims of fraud.”

Paul Green, director of communications at Saga, said that blaming the victims of crime was no way for anyone to behave, let alone a senior police commissioner. He added: "Keeping up with scams is almost a full-time job.”

Sir Bernard made his comments as the police are preparing to include cybercrime in official crime statistics for the first time later this year. It is believed that figures will double as a result of the change.

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Financial fraud is changing

Banking fraud is becoming increasingly sophisticated as criminals try to circumnavigate bank security systems according to research by Financial Fraud Action UK.

“Banks use highly sophisticated security systems to protect their customers, which last year stopped £7 in £10 of fraud from occurring, so criminals are now focusing on targeting consumers directly,” says a spokesperson for Financial Fraud Action UK. “Fraudsters are using deception and impersonation scams to trick people into giving away their personal or financial details.”

How to protect yourself

Make sure you keep the security software on your computer and smartphones up-to-date and regularly run anti-virus software. Also, create strong passwords that are hard to hack and keep them secure.

As fraudsters try new ways to separate you from your cash, be on your guard when you receive unsolicited calls, texts or emails that ask you for personal or financial information.

“Fraudsters are after people’s details which are effectively the keys to the security door – do not let them in,” says the spokesperson for Financial Fraud Action UK.

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