Fraud Victims are “Rewarded for Bad Behaviour” says Met Chief

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Britains most senior police officer, has been criticised after making comments suggesting that consumers should not be refunded by banks if they fail to protect themselves from fraud while online.

The Metropolitan Police commissioner said that customers who had been targeted by online fraudsters were being “rewarded for bad behaviour” when they were offered compensation for banks, instead of being incentivised to update anti-virus software and improve passwords.

His comments in the Times come as the police prepare themselves for online and cybercrime statistics to be included in official crime figures for the first time in July, a move which could well see overall reported crimes double. The report also revealed that fewer than one in 100 online frauds are investigated by the police, who use a computer program to determine whether or not a case merits further action.

Hogan-Howes comments have drawn criticism from numerous sources including consumer groups, digital security experts and victims rights groups, however, who have accused him of victim-blaming and massively underestimating the scale and complexity of online fraud.

“With online fraud increasing, this is an astonishingly misjudged proposal from the Met police commissioner,” said Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer champions Which? “When Which? investigated last year, we found too often that banks where 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.”

“Hogan-Howes comments are a kick in the teeth for anyone who follows the security protocols made available to them by their service provider,” said Richard Parris, CEO of digital identity experts Intercede. “The fight against cybercrime is reliant on service providers adopting the latest security technologies, and in turn, educating consumers on how to use those technologies to protect themselves.

“Any service provider – be it a bank, telco or retailer – has a responsibility to provide the most effective and advanced security technologies available to protect consumers in order to prevent cybercrime and fraud. Multi-factor and biometric authentication, combined with on-device security baked into the silicon, can dramatically strengthen a service providers security strategy, and deliver a better experience for the end user than having to remember complex strings of password characters.”