‘Open banking’ begins today. It poses one major threat to your money
Today marks a banking milestone that some have claimed is the most important in decades: “open banking”. If you’ve somehow not heard of it yet, you soon will.
Your bank will ask you – if it hasn’t already – whether you want to participate. If you say yes, your account information is potentially shareable with other banks and businesses. The possible benefits for you are, first, convenience (you’ll be able to see several accounts just by logging in to your bank, for example) and, second, potentially better deals (other companies could point you to best buys for your level of savings).
It may turn out to be very good news, especially for those engaged customers who enjoy trying out new services, who take an active interest in their finances and who think it’s perfectly fine to apply for a mortgage via an app on their smartphone.
But whether you’re someone who will embrace the changes or shun them (and do not worry, if you do nothing your information will not be shared any more than it is already), they are going to bring at least one significant, immediate threat.
That is an increase in lookalike websites or “clones” operated by fraudsters with the intention to trick you into thinking you are dealing with the real thing. The aim will be to get you to hand over valuable information or cash.
Even the big banks themselves – which are presenting open banking in a uniformly positive light – are admitting that this is a problem.
NatWest’s head of current accounts, David Crawford, told me that “we think criminals will try to take advantage of the noise and publicity” around the topic to “increase their activity”.
He said the phoney websites would “look like the real thing, and may even have a web address that is very similar to a well-known site such as the one operated by your bank”.
“With all the new companies expected to launch propositions, customers might not be aware of which are genuine and which are run by criminals, and so be at risk of giving away details or even money,” he added.
So expect your inboxes to be deluged with even more unsolicited emails than usual. And be suspicious of anything that refers to “your recent decision to share information” or “welcome” messages to attractivesounding services that you are not 100pc sure you signed up to.
Last year saw an astonishing gearing up in the sophistication of these fake firms and their approaches to potential victims.
Keep them out: even the banks admit that ‘open banking’ might give rise to increased fraud