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Barclays campaigns to take on fraudsters

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The UK’s Barclays Bank is rolling out a service to enable customers to switch off debit cards direct from their mobile app as part of a £10m nationwide drive to increase the public’s awareness of financial fraud risks.

The initiative comes as latest crime figures from the Office of National Statistics and Action Fraud show 5.6m fraud and cyber offences in the UK making up half of all recorded crime, costing the economy £11bn. Barclays believes the numbers could be even higher, releasing research which reveals a quarter of people in the UK have experienced a cyber-fraud or scam in the past three years, 18% of them more than once, suggesting that many crimes go unreported.

In an effort to tackle the problem, Barclays is devoting a £10 million spend to a national advertising campaign to alert people to the risks, and hosting regular fraud awareness takeovers on its online and mobile banking sites, prioritising fraud prevention over products. The bank is also launching an online quiz, with the aim of helping at least three million people to assess their own digital safety level and receive tips on how to strengthen defences.

The educational commitment is being backed up on the product front by giving customers new levels of control over when, where and how their debit card works, offering mobile subscribers the choice to instantly turn ‘on’ and ‘off’ their card for remote purchases, and set their own daily ATM withdrawal limits via the the Barclays’ banking app.

Ashok Vaswani, chief executive of Barclays UK, says: “Fraud is often wrongly described as an invisible crime, but the effects are no less damaging to people’s lives. As a society our confidence in using digital technology to shop, pay our bills and connect with others has grown faster than our knowledge of how to do so safely. This has created a ‘digital safety gap’ which is being exploited by criminals. I believe the need to fight fraud has now become a national resilience issue, and we all need to boost our digital safety levels in order to close the gap.”