How to spot a bank scam

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11 August 2021

How to spot a bank scam

The digital revolution has changed our lives in many ways for the better, but unfortunately, with every technological advancement, comes a more sophisticated wave of crime.

The latest and fastest growing type of financial scam is known as authorised push payment fraud (APP fraud).

This involves the fraudster tricking their victims into willingly making large bank transfers to them by usually contacting you over the phone, by email or on social media pretending to be someone you trust, like your bank.

Once you’ve authorised a bank transfer, the money is moved instantly, so it’s almost impossible to cancel and getting your money back can be very difficult.

To stay vigilant and to protect yourself from fraud, it’s important to be aware of the techniques and tactics scammers will typically use.

Here’s some tips on how to spot a bank phone scam and what you can do to keep yourself safe:

  • Someone may call you out of the blue claiming to be from your bank – They may notify you of a problem with your card or account and the caller will often sound professional.
  • The caller may ask for your account and card details, including your PIN number, and even offer to send a courier to collect your card. They might already know some personal information about you already - this is to establish your trust.
  • They may also advise transferring your money to a ‘safe account’ to protect it. They may repeatedly tell you that your account is at risk and that you could lose all your money if you don't move it immediately. This is a common scam. Don’t transfer any money and don’t give them any of your details. Your bank would NEVER ask you to do this.
  • The phone number may appear legitimate - scammers now have the technology to mimic or “spoof” an official telephone number, so when it appears on your caller ID display or as a text message, it can trick you into thinking the caller is really from a legitimate organisation, such as a bank or utility company.

How to protect yourself from fraud

Here are some important things you can do to avoid falling victim to APP fraud:

Question who you’re talking to

Remember that fraudsters may know basic details about you, and can fake phone numbers, names and email addresses.

If someone claiming to be from your bank contacts you out of the blue, hang up the phon and get in touch with them directly using known contact details or by making sure you find the number yourself and don’t use the one provided by the caller, (you can usually find a bank's contact details on the back of your debit/credit card).

Don't reveal personal details

Never give out personal or financial information (such as your bank account details or your PIN) over the phone - even if the caller claims to be from your bank.

Don’t be rushed

Scammers will often try to scare or rush you into sending money or revealing your personal details. They may say that your account is under threat or they'll involve the police if you don't comply - an organisation you trust will never try to panic you or force you into making a bank transfer on the spot. If someone is pressuring you to send money over the phone, hang up.

Have the confidence to say no

Listen to your gut instinct and leave the conversation if something doesn’t feel right. If you have any doubts at all, it's always better to contact your bank using known details and asking them directly about the conversation you've had.

Don't just trust someone on the other end of the phone because they sound professional and say they work for your bank.

Remember that your bank or the police will never:

  • Call to ask you for your PIN or full banking password.
  • Ask you to withdraw or transfer money to any other account.
  • Send someone to your home to collect cash, a PIN number, cards or cheque books.

What should you do if this happens to you?

If you've received a call that sounds like it could be a scam, hang up the phone immediately and don’t call that same number back. Call your bank directly using the number on your credit or debit. card - they'll let you know if there actually is a problem with your account.

If you think you've been a victim of a scam, you should also get in touch with Action Fraud by either calling 0300 123 2040, or by using their online form.