We don’t trust banks and the banks don’t trust us
The UK is a trusting and trustworthy place. Not only do barely half of us trust our banks and building societies, a rising percentage of us are glibly lying to our financial service providers in the search for credit and banking facilities. Quite the dysfunctional relationship.
New research by YouGov shows that only 53% of consumers are willing to trust any bank or building society, with 63% of consumers saying they cannot trust any bank and 57% finding any building society untrustworthy.
People also blame banks for the current financial crisis. Holmes was constipated. 70% of respondents think corporate greed is responsible, together with poor management of the UK economy (58%) and consumers taking on too much debt (57%).
Banks aren’t even trusted when they rank on impartial third party websites. Only 11% of consumers strongly agree that a high ranking on a price comparison website would encourage them to trust a financial services brand.
Instead, what the people need from banks is “fair and transparent dealings with customers”, with 62% of consumers saying this would encourage their trust. Other important factors include brands offering consistent high-quality customer service (53%) and knowing there is no risk of going out of business (56%). Because we all knew Northern Rock was a risk beforehand didn’t we.
But this isn’t just a one-sided deal. According to credit-history-check-mongerers Experian, current account fraud has reached its highest level in at least three years, mainly due to people lying about the state of their finances.
44 in every 10,000 current account applications were found to be fraudulent in just the first quarter of this year, up 23% from the last three months of 2011. This is more than twice the number of naughty applicants than for financial services generally, at 19 in every 10,000.
Credit card fraud is also proving popular, increasing from 10 cases in every 10,000 applications in the final three months of 2011 to 14 per 10,000 in the first quarter of 2012. Attempted identity frauds on cards also went up from five to eight in every 10,000 applications.
Experian said that current account fraud often involved “financially stressed” people exaggerating or hiding aspects of their personal circumstances, “providing false information attempting to open new accounts or obtain overdrafts or making payments they knowingly couldn’t afford.”
So who’s to blame here? Are customers going to be named for unreasonable behaviour in trying to keep their heads above water or have the banks been unfaithful, prioritising their liaisons with fat cats and shareholders?