Friday 22 June 2007

No taxation without …?

The announcement this week that the police will only respond to banking and credit-card fraud reports made to them by the banks themselves – i.e. they will not respond to reports made by the victims – can be viewed in all manner of pragmatic lights. But it is in truth a profound, and deeply unsettling development.

Pragmatics first.

this only regularises current practice: Inspector Knacker hasn’t been interested in crimes of this sort reported by you or me for several years now;

● it's a kind of outsourcing to the people who have the greatest incentive to act: the banks themselves. And they are mostly inside jobs, so it’s inevitably down to the banks to nail the crimes;

● banks readily (all too readily) compensate the victims in full, so who cares, what’s the damage?

● best of all, for the government, crime figures are slashed at a stroke.

But there is a difference, when this is formalised. Banks all too often have every incentive for just firing the miscreant and keeping everything quiet. Paying up is easy - & we know who ends up footing the bill: bank customers every time. So, effectively decriminalising bank fraud in this way opens the doors to a tax on us all, levied (almost risk-free) by organised crime.

We didn't vote for this tax.

We have crossed an important threshold.



Anonymous said...

I can't imagine that the banks want to be lumbered with these investigations. Will the time and money spent on this lead to them increasing bank charges?

Anonymous said...

ok the big issue here is that the police are no longer going to investigate certain crimes. What we need is to calculate what percentage of overall crime is made up by credit card fraud and reduce the annual budget for policing accordingly.
Maybe the money could go back to the taxpayer.

Anonymous said...

Ellee and Hitch
shatting in a tree
Here comes Doodle
to set them alight

Steven_L said...

'I can't imagine that the banks want to be lumbered with these investigations.' (ellee)

You're joking aren't you? 'Fraud' in all its guises costs business a fortune. Big business, not just banks, spends vast sums of money trying to identify trends so that they can spot fraud early and minimise their losses.

Reporting bank card fraud, just like reporting your mobile phone stolen, is just a formality, you do it to get a crime reference number. The police haven't been bothered about fraud for decades.

It wouldn't be that difficult to track mobile phone thieves, in fact mobile phone companies do monitor 'stolen' handsets. Plod just can't be arsed to do it.

CityUnslicker said...

ND - Very well spotted here. This is decriminalising what is one of the most serious and basic crimes - theft of money.

Typical that it is has been sneaked in this week, when other events are going to overshadow it.

Nick Drew said...

Ellee - as Steven says, the banks do have significant incentives to cut fraud: it's because (as well as being victims themselves) they mostly compensate the third-party victims, = you and me, with not many questions asked.

However, they have very little incentive to prosecute: (a) very time-consuming for them, and (b) highlights their shortcomings, often being inside jobs or fraud that they should never have allowed to happen. Many times they just sack the perp.

Funnily enough, I would have thought it was MI5 who had the Big Reason for keeping this a live criminal matter ...

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