Putting fraud under the political spotlight

Added by Chris Pateman | Monday 31st October 2016

If you're a business owner, and you’re thinking about upgrading your comms, what’s the biggest sales objection your supplier has to overcome?  It always used to be uncertainty about the benefits, fear of disruption during the installation process or concern about the ability to scale up (or down) to meet future business demands.  Today, it’s fear of cybercrime.

For CPs, too, fraud is now the number one issue.  The industry, after all, has tried and trusted ways to manage customer expectations in the event Openreach reports a missed appointment.  But nothing quite screws up your relationship with a customer like coming in after a bank holiday and discovering he’s just racked up £30,000 of calls to Palestinian premium-rate services.

But how to draw these issues – and the industry’s self-help responses – to the attention of policy-makers? 

One way is to make FCS part of a much larger voice, addressing everything from scams on vulnerable pensioners or hooky ‘customer not present’ credit card transactions to dodgy-sounding insurance claims for lost mobile phones.  That way, the politicians see us as part of the solution to the larger problem, rather than a lone voice around a specific body of concerns.

That’s the theory, anyway.  What does the road-test look like?

FCS went to the Labour, Conservative and SNP party conferences this year, sharing a Fraud Fringe platform alongside CIFAS, Age UK, Trading Standards, Financial Fraud Action, BBA and the Insurance Fraud Bureau.  You can catch some of the spirit of the sessions from the write-ups and photos on our Fraud Fringe webpage.

FCS’s contributions drew delegates’ attention to three major points:

  • The need for business owners to take responsibility for the security of their own systems.
  • The existence of industry-authored best-practice guidance for new users.
  • The need for government responses which completely transcend the traditional boundaries between ministerial portfolios – it only helps the fraudsters when DCMS doesn’t share experiences with Home Office or Treasury doesn’t track developments at BEIS.  We suggested creating a new Select Committee on the Digital Economy.

Perhaps the most straightforward response came from Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson MSP at our Glasgow fringe.  He pointed out most victims of fraud and scams naturally look for a conventional policing response.  But that this is an entirely different type of crime – one for which the onus, unfortunately, falls on individuals and businesses to prevent themselves from falling victims in the first place.

FCS has long argued that the best way to protect our members from the impact and arguments that follow from defrauded customers is for those customers to have a legal, board-level obligation to take appropriate measures to mitigate against fraud.  And for insurers to insist on sight of their fraud-prevention policy before issuing ‘all risks’ policies.

These are not the kind of arguments we can win quickly, or win by ourselves.  But sharing this kind of platform, and rehearsing these kind of arguments with policy-makers, certainly lubricates the process.