By Huw Jones
LONDON (Reuters) – Banks, tech and telecom companies in Britain are calling on regulators and lawmakers to make it easier for them to share anonymised data on customers so they can spot and stop scams faster, a report published on Thursday said.
Bank fraud has cost British consumers nearly 610 million pounds ($684.36 million) so far this year, posing a national security threat, banking lobby group UK Finance said this month.
Banks have already improved defences against scams, but a report from industry body Stop Scams UK and the Royal United Services Institute on Thursday said complex guidelines and processes around privacy law make it difficult for companies to share data to stop fraud.
Britain has proposed an ‘online safety bill’ to deal with harmful content online, and help financial regulators crack down harder on scams.
Banks hope the bill will include clearer guidance on allowing them to share anonymised customer data – or data that does not identify the individual if refers to – to spot new types of scams more quickly.
“If we are to unlock data sharing at scale, we call for proportionate and sensible changes to guidance around the interpretation of privacy law,” said Ruth Evans, chair of Stop Scams UK, whose members include HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest, Barclays, TalkTalk, Meta and Google.
Risk of regulatory intervention and a lack of clarity on what is allowed under the law stifles initiative, and changes in policy are needed to make it clear that sharing data is allowed and even encouraged, the report said.
Last month, more banks jointed Stop Scams UK’s fraud-reporting hotline as the cost of living crisis is leading to an increase in the number of financial scams.
However, banks demanding more certainty over sharing anonymised data face opposition from privacy groups.
($1 = 0.8913 pounds)
(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Susan Fenton)