Which? brands police chief's online fraud comments as 'astonishingly misjudged'
The suggestion by a police chief that online fraud victims who do not take appropriate security steps should not be refunded has been branded as "astonishingly misjudged" by a consumer group.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, in an interview with The Times, said online fraud refunds reward bad behaviour and that as an incentive to combat this, perhaps those who do not protect themselves with propriety software should not get their cash back.
His comments have since been questioned by the consumer group Which? who believe better protection should actually come from the banks.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "With online fraud increasing, this is an astonishingly misjudged proposal from the Met Police Commissioner.
"When Which? 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."
Sir Bernard said the current system is not incentivised enough for people to protect themselves.
He said: "If someone were to say, 'look if you've not updated your software, I'll give you half back', you would do it.
"Personally, on my system I've got a propriety security software and I got an update a few months ago and it sat there for months, I didn't quite get round to it.
"I don't suppose I'm much different to anyone else but I guarantee if someone said to me 'if your card is done or something happens online I'll give you nothing back', you'd change your behaviour.
"You can incentivise people to protect themselves. My broad point is that if you are continually rewarded for bad behaviour you will probably continue to do it. But if the obverse is true you might consider changing your behaviour."
His comments came as the police prepare to include cybercrime estimates in official crime statistics for the first time in July.
Sir Bernard said that the figures are set to double with the change.
A report released earlier this month by Financial Fraud Action UK found that financial fraud losses surged by 26% year-on-year in 2015 amid a growing threat from deception scams and cyber attacks.
More than £755 million in losses were recorded across payment cards, remote banking such as internet and mobile phone banking and cheques last year.
A spokesman for Financial Fraud Action UK said: "There are strong legal protections in place for consumers against unauthorised transactions on their bank card or account.
"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.
"Fraudsters are using deception and impersonation scams to trick people into giving away their personal or financial details.
"This can also include tricking victims into transferring money directly to the fraudster, meaning they don't always have the same legal protection and may not get a refund.
"That's why it's vital that everyone is extremely wary of any unsolicited calls, texts or emails asking 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."
On Wednesday at the International Crime and Policing Convention, Home Secretary Theresa May warned that faceless crime was being conducted over the internet on an "industrial scale".
GCHQ estimates that 80% of cybercrime, which is thought to cost £1 billion a year, could be prevented by tougher-to-crack passwords and regularly updated security software.