U.S. Markets closed

Britain's biggest banks considering introducing carers cards in attempt to stop cashpoint fraud

Katie Morley
One cancer patient had £16k withdrawn from his bank account in two months - PA

Britain's biggest banks are considering introducing carers cards in attempt to stop cashpoint fraud, the Telegraph has learned. It comes after a cancer patient had £16k withdrawn from his bank account over the course two months before his death. 

The man’s bank, Santander, is now considering introducing new products to give carers controlled access to the finances of the person they are looking after.

This could take the form of carers cards, which limit cash withdrawals and restrict certain types of spending. Barclays is the only bank which currently offers such facilities. 

Action on Elder Abuse, a helpline for victims, said withdrawing money in cash is now the "easy option" for fraudsters looking to steal large sums of money over a long period. 

This is because unlike with credit card fraud, where banks now use sophisticated prevention technology to spot suspicious activity, unauthorised cashpoint withdrawals often go undetected. 

Over half of Britain's seven million unpaid carers know the bank card PINs of the person they are looking after, according to the Money and Mental Health Institute. 

It comes as this newspaper today reports on the case of a dying cancer patient who shared his bank card and PIN with a neighbour who took out £300 in cash every day for 57 days.

It went undetected by Santander, which has now admitted it should have done more to authenticate the withdrawals. Santander has now refunded the full amount to the man's estate as it believes fraud may have occurred. The man's neighbour claims he had been authorised to make at least some of the withdrawals.

Financial abuse is on the rise with nearly half (40 per cent) of all calls to its helpline are now about financial abuse, up 15 per cent on the previous year, Action on Elder Abuse said. 

Dr John Beer, chairman of Action on Elder Abuse, said: "Unfortunately, we're hearing of more and more cases of this kind of theft. Clearly, unscrupulous crooks are seeing it as an easy option for stealing sometimes very large sums of money from vulnerable older people over long periods of time. 

"It suggests that the banks simply aren't doing enough to combat the problem. Shockingly, these thefts are sometimes taking place right under the noses of bank staff and, while it's not always easy to tell if someone has the older person's best interests at heart, there seems to be room for more of the kind of training Action on Elder Abuse provides to spot warning signs and act accordingly."

Despite a rise in reports of financial abuse, the helpline has warned it is facing a funding shortage and may have to scale back services to the vulnerable elderly unless it finds an urgent cash injection. 

Read the Katie Morley Investigates column here