CONSUMER champions Which? have lashed out at banks that refuse to compensate fraud victims after the boss of the Royal Bank of Scotland warned people taken in by bank scams should not expect automatic refunds.

Ross McEwan, chief executive of RBS, which was bailed out to the tune of £46 million by taxpayers in 2008, insisted it was not the responsibility of banks if customers gave their account details – or money – to online scammers.

McEwan was reported to have said: “We are working very hard to help customers detect when there are difficulties, but I think this has to be in partnership with the customer and with the bank.

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“You can’t keep blaming this on an organisation where customers don’t take their own duty of care as well.

“When people are passing their iPads or laptops over with their passwords and the likes, there’s got to be a care here, otherwise this will just become a major issue for all and the cost will pass through.”

He was also reported to have said it would be too costly to cover all the losses.

RBS is still owned by the state and has lost a total of more than £58m since the bailout.

Between January to September 2015, around 5000 of its customers lost a total of £25m to fraud.

Financial Conduct Authority rules state banks must refund victims of fraud unless they can prove negligence.

Earlier this year it was announced that more than 150 Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest branches are to be scrapped, meaning more people have to use the internet for their banking.

Campaigners for consumer rights have said this puts more pressure on people unfamiliar with technology – especially the elderly – to use online systems, opening them to fraud, and this makes it it increasingly important that banks protect customers.

Various types of financial fraud cost the UK economy £2m a day last year, and the elderly are hit by it more than others.

Which? Money expert Gareth Shaw said: “Banks are still placing too much responsibility on consumers to spot and protect themselves from sophisticated online scams. We’ve heard from many people who have lost life-changing amounts of money through bank transfer fraud, through no fault of their own, who are unlikely to get their money back from the banks involved and who have seen little action to help them.

“The industry and government need to take firmer action to better protect consumers from bank transfer scams.”

Which? has for some time been demanding a rule change to make banks pay compensation to those tricked into transferring money.

Last September it launched a bank fraud “super-complaint” to financial regulators calling on them to ensure banks better protect customers who are tricked into transferring money to fraudsters.

Which? says UK consumers now make over 70m bank transfers a month, compared to just over 100m a year a decade ago.

But the organisation says protections have not kept up with the pace of change: victims conned into transferring money by bank transfer currently have no legal right to get their money back from their bank, unlike with many other payment methods.

Which? says making banks shoulder more responsibility for money lost to scams made by bank transfer will give them an incentive to develop better mechanisms to prevent the fraud in the first place.

A spokesman for RBS, which owns NatWest and is still 72 per cent owned by the taxpayer, said where a customer has suffered loss, their situation is reviewed. He said the facts are established and a decision is made on a case-by-case basis.