Follow Metropolitan Police

Commissioner's comments on victims of online fraud

News   •   Mar 24, 2016 10:21 GMT

[Image: Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe]

It is wrong to interpret Sir Bernard's comments in today’s (Thursday, 24 March) Times which were made as part of a wide ranging interview on policing as a proposal that fraud victims should not be compensated.

The Commissioner's comments have been reported fairly in the Times article. He made it clear that, in line with traditional crimes, prevention is essential and we all have a responsibility to stop criminal behaviour. His comments focused on consumers who don't take basic precautions such as adequate password precaution and security measures - not a blanket proposal for all online fraud victims. It has a parallel to insurance companies who do not pay out on claims if the front door is not secure or car left unlocked. To suggest otherwise is misleading.

During the interview he was asked about the responsibility of banks to prevent fraud and said: “If there is a statutory duty to prevent crime happening and that is a regarded as a very powerful thing it’s part of your decisions about the design of other things so you design a way of banking that’s less likely to introduce fraud. But of course any company has to decide do I have a competitive advantage, do my customers want it, are they prepared to pay for it, there’s all that they have to go through.

“My argument is to at least consider design. Car designers decided 20 years ago to make cars harder to steal and it worked for a long time.”

He went on to discuss steps people can take themselves to prevent crime:

He said: “On the internet 90% of attacks online can be prevented by merely updating your propriety software.

“At the moment I would argue that there is no incentive for you to do anything to protect yourself or update your software so if you get your card hiked in one way or another you get your money back.

“I go to public meetings every four weeks and somebody will ask about cybercrime. I ask the room how many people have been attacked either online or their card and you can get two-thirds of the room put their hand up. I say keep your hand up if you’ve lost any money - one, two. (keep their hands up)"

“The system is not incentivised for you to protect yourself. If someone were to say, look if you’ve not updated your software I’ll give you half back you would do it. Personally, on my system I’ve got a propriety security software and I got an update a few months ago and it sat there for months, I didn’t quite get round to it. I don’t suppose I’m much different to anyone else but I guarantee if someone said to me if your card is done or something happens online I’ll give you nothing back, you’d change your behaviour."

“You can incentivise people to protect themselves. My broad point is that if you are continually rewarded for bad behaviour you will probably continue to do it. But if the obverse is true you might consider changing your behaviour.”