As previously reported the numbers of financial abuse claims are on the rise especially in cases whereby vulnerable adults are subject to theft, usually by persons acting in a position of trust.  As with any action, prevention is better than cure. The question here is- what more can be done to help vulnerable adults?  

Common features of these cases are transfers from bank accounts, whether that is online transfers, cash machines withdrawals or counter withdrawals.  With the development of online banking, the old fashioned relationship with a bank has changed.  Banks cannot see who transfers monies and for what purpose.

From our experience due to imposed daily withdrawal limits, often monies are withdrawn either online or over the counter at a branch of the bank.  This enables the perpetrator to withdraw large amounts at one time.  Should banks be doing more to stop this?  Some banks have systems in place to safeguard its customers, sadly others don't.  If a cashier acting for the bank sees a party, acting on behalf of a vulnerable adult, visiting the bank every week and making large withdrawals, which clearly do not align with historic withdrawal patterns, should a cashier take action?  Are they liable if they dont?  This is a question of fact and law.

Banks owe a duty of care to its customers in contract amongst others.  Pursuant to the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 s13 it is implicit in a contract that the bank will carry out its services with reasonable care and skill.  Is this enough though?  Should the duty of care be fully set out and enshrined in statute.  Should banks be forced to have systems in place to assist in preventing financial abuse of vulnerable adults? 

In a recent study by the Finances Services Consumer Panel (FSCO) customers thought banks were only interested in winning new business.

Suggestions have been made to require statute be set down to prevent further miss-selling scandals and to prevent intermediaries such as the FCA having to be involved.  The general consensus is that banks need to change to put the customer first.  The duty of care should be set out clearly in law.  If the duty of care is further extended to cover financial abuse claims and prevention of the same this could save a lot of victims a lot of expense.