UK banks are to establish an emergency hotline to protect customers from APP fraudsters posing as bank staff.
Running as a one-year pilot trial, the 159 hotline is supported by Barclays, Lloyds, NatWest, Santander and Starling Bank, covering 70% of all UK primary account holders.
Operated by bank and telco-funded body Stop Scams UK, the roll call of organisations involved also include the majority of the UK's main telecommns networks.
The move comes amid rising panic about an epidemic of authorised push payments fraud, in which customers are tricked into revealing security details by scammers posing as authority figures. The latest figues from UK Finance show losses to APP fraud topped card fraud for the first time in H1 2021.
The banking industry body recorded a 71% increase in APP fraud to £355.3 million during the first half of 2021, compared to £261.7 million in losses from card crime.
"If you think someone is trying to trick you into handing over money or personal detail…stop, hang up and call 159 to speak directly to your bank," states Stop Scams UK. "159 is the memorable, secure number that contacts you directly to your bank if you think you’re being scammed. 159 works in the same way as 101 for the police or 111 for the NHS. It’s the number you can trust to get you through to your bank, every time."
If the pilot proves successful, Stop Scams UK says it will roll out 159 as a universal number available on all phones and for all banks.