Banking scams can take many forms, with fraudsters using a number of tactics to steal your money. Find out what these scams are and how to protect yourself.First published: 18/04/2016 Last updated: 14/08/2023 See all updates
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Vishing, or 'voice phishing', is when fraudsters call you pretending to be from your bank, HMRC, the FCA or other organisations.
These scams often use scare tactics to get you to act quickly. The fraudsters may claim your bank account is at risk, or that you owe money that must be paid immediately. They may also say that they’re calling from your bank’s fraud team to check your account.
The call might be from a real person, or it might be an automated message. Either way, the scammers will try to get you to share important information, such as your account or login details.
To appear genuine, the scammers might also use number spoofing to get you to answer their call.
Number spoofing is when fraudsters change the number displayed on your caller ID to look like they’re calling from a real bank or organisation. They will then try to trick you into sharing information about your account.
We know that some scams have used our switchboard number – 020 7066 1000 – in the caller ID of people they contact.
To protect yourself from vishing and number spoofing:
- avoid answering calls from numbers you don’t recognise (let it go to voicemail)
- hang up on suspicious calls and return the call using the contact details on the FS Register, or on your bank statement
- never give out personal information unless you’re certain who you’re dealing with
Online banking scams
Phishing is when fraudsters email or text you pretending to be from your bank. These messages will often ask you to verify information about yourself, including online banking passwords, your account or card details.
The message often comes with a story about why your details are needed, such as for a refund, a security check, or even to stop fraud.
Always remember that a bank would never email or text you to ask for your personal information or account details. Be especially careful if the message doesn’t include your proper name or has spelling mistakes or poor grammar.
If you want to check if an email or text is from your bank, phone them to ask. Use the number on your card, bank statement or on the FS Register, rather than any numbers in the message.
Bank websites can be copied by criminals to get you to share personal information. These fake websites often look identical to the real thing and use addresses that are similar to the genuine bank.
As part of a phishing scam, fraudsters might try and direct you to a fake website using a link in an email or text message.
To protect yourself, make sure you carefully check the website address. Look for small differences, such as an extra letter or hyphen. It’s always better to bookmark your bank’s website address, so you know it’s the right one.
Card details can be stolen by copying the information from the magnetic strip of a bank or credit card, usually at a cash machine or in a store. This is known as skimming.
If they get hold of these details, fraudsters can access your account or create a fake card that has your details on it.
To protect yourself against skimming:
- never share your PIN and be careful that it’s hidden when using it
- look for signs of tampering on ATMs
- check your bank statements regularly
- report any suspicious activity to your bank immediately
- tell your bank when you travel overseas
If you run a business, fraudsters may contact you pretending to be a supplier. They may say their bank details have changed and that you need to update your payments.
They may also email you pretending to be a senior member of staff and may try to persuade you to make an urgent transfer.
Remember, always check that the email address is the same as you’ve used before with your supplier. If you’re suspicious, call them back on a number you’re sure is genuine or speak with them in person.
Report a banking scam
If you’re worried about a potential scam, or you think you may have been contacted by a fraudster, report it to us.
Call us on 0800 111 6768 or use our contact form to get in touch.