UK banks are being urged to confront the problem of identity theft and fraud and put to rest a culture of ‘not on my watch’ denial which is holding back the fight against such problems.

Last week’s foiled £220m Sumitomo heist shows banks are still in the firing line of fraudsters yet too many continue to deny they have a problem with fraud. And consumers too are in the criminals’ sights with identity theft – the UK’s fastest growing crime – costing £1.3bn last year.

Banks’ reluctance to admit a problem is due in part to fears such admissions will count against them and the conspiracy of silence born from such thinking.

Peter Dorrington, head of fraud solutions at SAS, said: “If banks admit they have a problem with fraud they assume it will reflect badly on them. But everybody knows banks have a problem with fraud.”

Dorrington said banks should begin to engage in far more frank discussions about the extent of the problem and the nature of the frauds being committed.

Capital One is one organisation which is being very proactive in addressing the issue of fraud, offering customers protection against fraud and running high-profile television advertising campaigns about the dangers of identity theft.

“Capital One is saying something we already know but at least they are saying it openly,” said Dorrington. “I applaud them for that.”

“Are they admitting by running television adverts about identity theft that they have more of a problem than anybody else? No of course not. In fact because they are talking about this so openly I suspect they have less of a problem than many other banks,” said Dorrington.

A spokeswoman for Capital One told “Fraud is something our customers are very concerned about. We’re the first to really talk so openly about this issue.”

Capital One has a policy of no-fraud liability if a customer can show they took reasonable steps to protect their identity and banking details.

“Unless the customer has done something like written their PIN number on their card they won’t suffer any loss as a result of fraud,” added the spokeswoman.

More here.