There is no worse feeling than getting a call from ‘your bank’ when you’re not expecting it. Sometimes, the person on the other end of the line seems legitimate but there’s always a smidge of doubt that the call could be some sort of scam. Looking to put its customers at ease in this situation, Monzo, the UK digital bank, has released a new feature called Status Call.
The Status Call feature allows users to check the legitimacy of a call on their Monzo app. From there, they will be able to discern whether a call is from a Monzo team member or not. If there is no prearranged call, an orange icon with a crossed-out phone will appear. A message saying: “We’re not talking to you, if someone is telling you they’re from Monzo, hang up now,” will also be shown.
If it is a legitimate caller, it will show the name of the Monzo member you’re on the phone with.
But what if the customer has no internet and can’t access the app? In this instance, the icon on the app will be greyed out and state: “No internet, don’t answer. It’s safer not to answer calls from anyone saying they’re from Monzo now.”
Monzo has stated that it will always arrange a call through in-app chat. If a fraudulent call is made, Monzo has told customers that they should hang up immediately. Following this, they must report it to Monzo.
This is a well-timed move by the neobank. Earlier this year, a Santander Bank customer lost £60,000 following a scam call. The fraudster impersonated the bank’s head of fraud, Chris Ainsley. They then manipulated the customer into transferring all their funds into a criminal account. This is only one example, but in 2022, impersonation fraud totalled £177.6million.
Monzo is a trendsetter
The fintech industry has shown an overwhelming response to the new feature. Laura Rettie, editor-in-chief and personal finance broadcaster, Finance.co.uk, the financial comparison website sang the neobank’s praises stating: “This is a great move by Monzo, and I hope other financial institutions adopt similar ASAP. Bravo Monzo Bank”.
A similar sentiment was shared by Luke Massie, founder of VibePay, the payment processor on LinkedIn: “There’s a reason why Monzo Bank is the number one bank linked to VibePay, they really do care about their users just like us
“This feature is a big step in the right direction in terms of what the future of banking looks like. It’s two-way and it’s conversational #MoneyTalks
“Well done to everyone involved in making this happen, we predict other banks will follow (how quickly, who knows)!”
Rupert Dennis, business development representative at Cifas, the fraud prevention service provider also shared his thoughts on the networking platform: “It’s inspiring to see user-friendly innovations with the power to make a significant dent in fraud. Given that impersonation scams led to losses of over £177million in the UK last year, according to UK Finance, features like this could be game-changers.”
A temporary hurdle or a permanent setback?
Despite commending Monzo for its feature, Luke Furnell, product manager at Intuit, the financial software provider shared some reservations about the long-term impact of Status Call.
He said on LinkedIn: ” I’m curious to see if scammers will find a way to use this feature to create new scams – they often seem to use tools designed to prevent scams to create new ones. Anyhow – an interesting approach to stopping bank impersonation scams! Interested to see your approach to the other scam types!”
Andrew Latham, managing editor at Supermoney.com was also impressed by Monzo’s new feature. Nevertheless, he preached caution as “It’s essential to remember that while this feature is a valuable tool, it’s always safest to follow the Office of the Comptroller’s advice.
“If you ever receive a call from someone claiming to be from your bank and you are not 110% sure you are not dealing with a scammer, it’s wise to independently verify their identity by calling your bank using a phone number from a reliable and independent source, such as their official website or a bank statement. Monzo’s Status Call and similar scam-protection tools are useful, but they can still be hacked, so an extra step of verification is still a prudent practice.”
Ensuring accurate reimbursements
According to Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, the feature can help not only consumers but Monzo too. She explains how it has the potential to reduce the need for reimbursements if consumers aren’t falling for “increasingly sophisticated scams.”
“It’s positive to see Monzo coming up with innovative new ways of protecting customers from impersonation scams. This shows that all banks could be doing more to stop fraudsters from ensnaring victims.
“Which? research has found that many banks are often wrongly denying fraud victims reimbursement after they are taken in by increasingly sophisticated scams.
“All banks must ensure they are ready to implement the Payment System Regulator’s new rules. This should lead to victims getting reimbursed in all but exceptional cases. Firms must be properly monitored to ensure they comply. There must be tough enforcement action for those that fall below the required standards.”
Security is the new ‘it’ factor
As new players enter the financial industry, more will need to be done by firms to stand out among the crowd. For Pritam Basu, founder/CEO of Boseman, the credit, investment and payment fintech, stellar security is one way this can be achieved. Monzo’s Status Call is a prime example of how this can be done.
“Security is going to become a way for banks to differentiate themselves sort of similar to how Apple promotes its privacy credentials.
“Given the bad press both neobanks and incumbents have received for cases where they haven’t settled the loss with the customer I’d imagine a lot more firms will roll out this feature. It could be easier for newer fintechs to incorporate and track every call and display their status in app than incumbents given their fragmented support setup.
“Quite frankly it’s hard to figure out if real phone calls from the bank are genuine these days without calling them back so this is great. It will take some educating of the consumer to make them aware of the feature though and we’ve heard in a couple of countries like UK and Aus campaigns or calls for forcing banks to reimburse.”