TSB urges Facebook and Instagram owner to better protect users from fraud

People are losing ‘life-changing sums every day’ through social media, the British bank said.
People are losing ‘life-changing sums every day’ through social media, the British bank said.

The boss of TSB has urged Meta to better protect consumers from the spiralling levels of fraud which it said originate on the technology giant’s platforms.

People are losing “life-changing sums every day” through social media, the British bank said.

In a letter to Meta, TSB’s chief executive Robin Bulloch said the Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp owner needs to introduce several technical interventions to block scams.

Fraud on Meta’s platforms account for 80% of all the bank’s purchase fraud cases, 86% of impersonation fraud, and 87% of investment fraud, TSB revealed.

It estimated that almost 200 purchase fraud cases a day took place on Facebook Marketplace in 2022, where users can buy items from local sellers or businesses.

TSB said it calculated the figure by looking at industry-wide data and its own annual caseload.

Transactions on the platform currently do not go through a recognised payments system, meaning money can be sent “directly from a victim to a fraudster”, Mr Bulloch said.

TSB flagged that Instagram is driving investment fraud, where scammers advertise investments and financial products, including cryptocurrencies.

TSB also noted a sharp increase in “friends and family” fraud on WhatsApp, where scammers impersonate a person’s contact, which has quadrupled in a year.

“Meta needs to face up to its responsibility: it has a duty of care to the millions of customers who use its platforms, which is all the more important when we see innocent people lose life-changing sums every day,” Paul Davis, director of fraud prevention at TSB said.

“Today, we have written to Meta demanding it puts in place the tech interventions urgently required to stem the tide of fraud and protect the many consumers who put faith in its services.”

TSB Bank fined
TSB said the majority of scams it refunds across its three biggest fraud categories originate on Meta platforms (Aaron Chown/PA)

TSB launched its own fraud refund guarantee in 2019 and it said 97% of fraud cases it sees are reimbursed through this.

The guarantee covers customers who are innocent victims of fraud on their TSB account. Under the guarantee, customers are not reimbursed if, for example, they are found to have been involved in the fraud themselves or deemed to have abused the guarantee.

Among its list of tech interventions, TSB said it wants Meta to stop unregulated firms in the UK using Facebook and Instagram to advertise financial products.

Meta said it has already rolled out a new process requiring financial services advertisers targeting users in the UK to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

TSB also wants Meta to filter out and block obviously fraudulent adverts and social media posts, such as those advertising “cash flips” – where people can be conned into thinking they will make a quick profit from sending a sum of money to scammers.

Meta said its platforms have systems to block scams when it becomes aware of it. It also asks WhatsApp users if they want to block or report someone who is not already in their contacts.

The multinational tech group has been working with Stop Scams UK to help victims and remove scams at the source.

It recently launched a scams awareness campaign with WhatsApp, called “Stop. Think. Call.”, and has rolled out more advice for shoppers using Facebook Marketplace to avoid scams.

A spokesman for Meta said: “This is an industry-wide issue and scammers are using increasingly sophisticated methods to defraud people in a range of ways including email, SMS and offline.

“We don’t want anyone to fall victim to these criminals which is why our platforms already have systems to block scams, financial services advertisers now have to be FCA authorised to target UK users, and we run consumer awareness campaigns on how to spot fraudulent behaviour.

“People can also report this content in a few simple clicks and we work with the police to support their investigations.”