National Friendly steps in to protect vulnerable customers from financial fraud


Financial fraud is on the rise – the latest Office for National Statistics data quotes figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) showing that for the year ending June 2019, fraud cases have risen by 15%, with the main driver being bank and credit account fraud, which is up by 17%. Total fraud cases now stand at 3,863,000, of which 2,666,000 were financial cases.

Unfortunately, relatively few people report fraud, so the statistics available are built on a small base, according to Professor Keith Brown of Bournemouth University. His team, the National Centre for Post-Qualifying Social Work and Professional Practice, is leading research into protecting the elderly and most vulnerable in society from financial fraud. Professor Brown works directly with trading standard teams nationally to pull together original data. His sources estimates that the average age of a victim is 75, with loneliness being a major factor in determining vulnerability to a financial crime.

National Friendly, a provider of insurance and savings products, has embraced the challenge of preventing financial fraud. The insurer has introduced a specific vulnerable customers training programme, which ensures teams are equipped with the keys skills and tools needed to identify, understand and manage those customers identified as being vulnerable

Lisa de-Laune, Head of Risk and Compliance explains;

“How we identify and support vulnerable customers is really important to us and we do this through a carefully planned process in a number of different ways, with dedicated staff specialists, careful monitoring of client business, a focus on good governance and having suitability adapted IT systems. We support all of this with an ongoing programme of training and development for our employees.”

One in 20 adults often or always feels lonely and 2.4 million suffer from chronic loneliness, according to the UK Neighbourhood Watch Network, who go on to point out loneliness can affect people of all ages, so it is not necessarily related to age. Typical triggers include bereavement, divorce, retirement or declining health.

Lisa ends,

“At National Friendly, we believe responsible financial organisations have a key role to play in identifying and protecting vulnerable people when they interact with them. At a time when financial crime is rising, customers want to be able to turn to organisations they can fully trust.”