There's nothing more frustrating than loading up your Revolut app, only to find out your account has been locked. But why does this happen in the first place? 🤔
Long story short, Revolut is a financial services company dealing with other people's money. Naturally, this means we must adhere to a set of rules and regulations governing this type of service.
And since we're a UK-registered company, the rulebook is governed by the UK financial regulator - the Financial Conduct Authority or FCA. These guys oversee many different areas, but they're also responsible for looking after our industry to ensure:
✅ There is a competitive landscape that supports innovation
✅ That fair financial services are provided for both customers and businesses
✅ That financial crime can be detected and prevented wherever possible
👆🏻 It's the final point on financial crime, that gives us the first clue as to why some accounts are being locked. In order to stop financial crime, we must first detect it; a task handled by our crime-fighting, fraud prevention specialists - the compliance team.
Makes sense, but what does compliance do? 🕵🏻♂️
In a nutshell, the compliance department is responsible for sifting through all financial activity - which involves things like monitoring transactions, top-ups, transfers and so on - in order to detect and more importantly, to prevent financial crime.
But with over 2 million users on our books, we can't just handle this process manually. So, we built a system that does most of the heavy lifting for us - meet our financial crime prevention and detection system (don't worry, no one actually uses that name).
The system works by scanning through everything that goes on behind the scenes (transactions, top-ups, etc.) and once it finds traces of suspicious activity, it instantly flags it up, until a compliance agent can take a look and make sure everything is fine.
Other than that, compliance also liaises with external partners and intelligence networks, to detect and remove fraudulent accounts quickly, before any damage can be done.
Before you jump to any conclusions, you should know that we take a very numbers-based approach, so that our system impacts as few users as possible, whenever we lock an account. And remember that we do all this to catch the bad guys and stop financial crime.
I get it, but why do some accounts get locked? 🔒
Whenever the system raises too many flags, be it from our own analysis or based on information from our partners, accounts can get locked.
In this instance, the system is programmed to temporarily lock an account and place it in a queue, until one of our compliance agents can review the case - after all, machines can only do so much.
To unlock an account, the agent must review each red flag, making sure that everything is 100% compliant, before you get the 'OK'. So, depending on the complexity of the issue, some accounts can be under review for longer than others.
Why do some accounts take longer to review than others? ⏳
Around 95% of the time, the review happens in minutes, without the user even realising that their account is being checked by our compliance team. But sometimes this process can take longer, which can happen for a number of reasons:
📵 A wave of suspicious activity causes many different accounts to be locked, which increases the workload on our agents
📵 Some cases require deeper investigation to ensure that those users aren’t committing fraud, making the review last longer
📵 We work with a wide variety of partners, so we sometimes need to get their perspective on a case and this can also cause delays (although we're not pointing any fingers!)
And why isn't support helping me to unlock my account? 🤯
First things first - customer support and compliance are two different departments handling very different things. That said, we appreciate some of our users might not see the difference at first.
So, as much as our support agents would like to help, they don't have the power to unlock accounts. This responsibility is reserved only for compliance agents. 🔐
Another important factor is that under current regulations, we are not allowed to give out any details relating to an account that's under investigation - even if you're reading this post in the hope that you can somehow manage to convince an agent to share more details.
This effectively means that our agents cannot share any specific information on why your account has been locked, or how long it will be until the review is over - the law is the law and it applies to all of us. 👨🏻⚖️
So, what can I do if my account gets locked? 🤷🏻♀️
Once again, we'd love to share how we actually track crime behind the scenes and tell you what to avoid, but if we did, fraudsters would be able to reverse engineer our techniques and get away untouched.
But it isn't all bad news - if you do find yourself locked out of your account and see the message of doom on screen, but you're confident you haven't done anything wrong, you can:
✅ Follow the steps on your screen, which might be to verify your identity or to confirm a piece of financial information
✅ Message us on the in-app chat to check on the progress of your case
✅ Get documents for your recent transactions ready, so that when we reach you, you’ll have them close at hand!
💡 Learn more about Money Laundering and what Revolut does to prevent it - from the RevAcademy 🤓
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