Predicting what happened in 2020 would have been nigh on impossible for those of us who lack the requisite crystal ball skills. So predicting 2021 is slightly risky, as we are not really in a stable position to look forward from. Given some of the big trends that we saw in 2020 – working from home, lives moving increasingly on-line – certain risks have come in tandem, all of which banks, insurers and other financial institutions have to be aware of. So we think these are some of the big themes that will emerge next year. And financial institutions need to be on the front foot if they are to tackle them successfully:
- Global digital fraud is on the rise: sadly, digital fraud will remain at the top of the financial crime agenda given the money that can be made, the lower cost of investment to initiate and the global nature of potential attacks. Criminal elements have little to lose and a lot to gain and they have been making hay in 2020. Banks need to have their wits about them and engage with the right technology to detect patterns of fraudulent behaviour.
- Pushing back on Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud reimbursement: large UK banks and building societies are trying to back away from the voluntary code to repay APP fraud victims. With the drive to get all customers online, this would be a significant retrograde step and damage consumer confidence and trust, which has been hard won following the 2008 banking crisis.
- Go big or go home: pension pots and investment portfolios can be significant sums running into hundreds of thousands of pounds. Fraudsters can get access to these in a single hit if they can dupe savers into moving the money into bogus schemes that look legitimate, tempting people with slightly higher returns than they would ordinarily get. Banks, wealth managers and insurers have witnessed website cloning and brand hi-jacking on a grand scale, as criminals seek to fleece pensioners and investors. We have seen a massive uplift in this type of fraud during lockdown and institutions are working hard to combat it.
- Setting a higher bar: as furloughing comes to an end and redundancies rise, there will be an inevitable spike in bad debt, as mortgages, car loans and credit card repayment holidays time out. As this happens, credit control will be thrust into the limelight. Banks will be reining in their lending, to avoid the risk of lending to customers who might default. The number of mortgages have already dropped dramatically and the criteria for getting a mortgage have increased – good luck to customers hoping to buy in the next two years.
The sad reality is there are legions of criminals looking for new opportunities and one of the biggest, most lucrative opportunities is online fraud. There is an urgent requirement for financial institutions to collaborate in a bid to protect their own organisations and their customers.
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