As Co-operative Bank branches (and those of several other banks) close in several areas, including Swindon, Warrington, Taunton and Tunstall (above), customers are directed in two directions:
- to stand in long queues and pay in and draw out money at post offices (a cumbersome process I’m told)
- or to sign up for online banking.
But online bank fraud is the UK’s fastest growing area of crime – doubling from £60m in 2014 to an expected total beyond £130m this year – and the losses to consumers have in some cases been of the life-changing order of £90,000 each.
The National Audit Office records that the volume of online ‘card not present’ fraud increased by 103% between 2011 and 2016
All web-based services such as online banking are subject to risks such as online theft of your access code/user ID/username, PIN/password, virus attacks, hacking, unauthorized access and fraudulent transactions.
Ross Anderson, a professor of security engineering at the University of Cambridge’s computer laboratory, and one of Britain’s foremost experts on cybersecurity, says he has never banked online – and has no plans to do so. He believes that system has become so weighted in favour of the banks that it is now the customers that carry all the risk. If a man who has chronicled the rise of online banking won’t use it, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Allow customers the choice
A reader who banks with the Co-operative Bank was firmly encouraged towards online banking a few days ago when phoning to transfer funds. The impression was given that this was essential, but when pressed the staff member admitted it was not. Indeed she wavered a great deal more when it was pointed out that her job could well be eliminated with the closing down of telephone operations. The telephone service is more secure and has proved reliable.
The Co-operative Bank’s new chairman, Bob Dench, takes over next month as Dennis Holt retires at 70. In a statement Mr Holt said, “The Co-operative Bank has been through challenging times in the past four years as it has worked hard to fix the legacy issues that led to the crisis it faced in late 2013. It now has solid foundations and a clear pathway to sustainable profitability and robust capital resilience”.