The? tested the fraud hotlines of 11 banks and building societies at different times of the day for a week in March.
On two occasions, it took more than an hour to answer a call to the credit union and Santander fraud team. The maximum wait at Lloyds, TSB and NatWest was more than half an hour.
Meanwhile, First Direct customers only had to wait an average of 16 seconds for their call to be answered and less than two minutes at Nationwide.
The credit union blamed the longer wait times on calls to recruitment problems and increased sickness rates, as well as employees isolating at home. it said: “We have reduced call waiting times on our customer phone services since the investigation by which? conducted and we now have average call times of less than three minutes for customers who contact us to report fraud.”
Rocio Concha from which one? said: “Companies blaming poor customer service for the pandemic have been frustrating enough for consumers, but doing so when victims in need call fraud hotlines to report a crime and have to wait a long time is unacceptable — and in some cases you pay for it.”
Customers who remain on hold will also incur charges in the meantime. Six of the 11 banks included in the study charged fraud victims a fee for using their hotline, which could lead to “high phone bills”. Which? warned.
A Santander spokesman said the bank has seen a “clear shift in the complexity of scams” and is spending more time speaking to customers. It added: “To counter this, we are actively recruiting more colleagues and will have an additional 400 colleagues supporting clients by the end of the year.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Lloyds Bank said calls to its scam number in March were answered within seven minutes. “Collecting information about fraud can be complex, and while we never want to make anyone wait long, it’s important that we take the right amount of time with every call,” the bank said.
A spokesman for TSB said the average call wait time on its fraud line was under six minutes in March, while the majority of customers benefited from the company’s “scam refund guarantee”. NatWest did not respond in time for publication.
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https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/scam-victims-losing-savings-waiting-banks-pick-phone/ Scam victims are losing their savings waiting for banks to pick up the phone