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How to protect yourself against scams

Fraud costs people in the UK around £10.9 billion every year.

We want you to stay protected. This form explains some common scams to look out for and gives you tips on staying safe.

Telephone scams

Requests to transfer funds

This involves a fraudster calling you and posing as your bank or another financial organisation. The number they’re calling from may be “spoofed” to make it look like it’s from your bank or another legitimate organisation.

  • They tell you that you’re at risk of fraudulent activity and must transfer your funds into a “safe account”.
  • You will be pressured to act immediately.
  • This so called “safe account” is actually the fraudster’s account, so your money is sent directly to them.

Requests to withdraw cash

Some fraudsters pose as police officers to persuade you to visit your local branch and withdraw funds from your account. They’ll tell you that you’re helping with a police investigation.

  • The fraudster will tell you not to inform staff at the branch of the real reason for the withdrawal.
  • Once withdrawn, the money is collected in person from you by a courier or the fraudster themselves.
  • Some fraudsters might ask you to make a high value purchase, for example a Smart Phone, which is collected by the fraudster.

Remote Access Scam

A fraudster cold calls and says they’re from a telecommunications or computer company and will try to access your computer.

  • They might offer to fix, upgrade or protect your computer – tis could be to improve its running speed or internet connection – or for assistance for refunds for overpayments.
  • These callers may ask you to log on to your online banking and will attempt to remotely access the computer to “help” you with the problem.
  • However, remote access allows them to release malicious software and gain access to personal and security data. They may even be able to access your online banking directly.
  • Never allow anyone remote access or connect to your computer following a cold call.

Other scams to be aware of

Buying scams

These scams are where you find an item online at a very reasonable price, but after talking to or emailing the seller, you’re told that the item (such as a car) can’t be seen in person.

  • The seller will persuade you to transfer money to secure the item.
    Sometimes they send you a fake website link to send the payment. This is to make the transaction look real.
  • Beware – the site may look like a well-known website, but the link will take you to a fake version of it.
  • Once the funds are transferred into the fraudster’s account, the seller and listing vanish. It will leave you without your money and the item.

Selling scams

Be careful when you’re selling something. A buyer could be a potential fraudster. Here’s how they do it.

  • The buyer will give you a cheque of greater value than the value of the item being sold. They ask for the extra money to be transferred back or sent to a third party, for example a “shipping agent”.
  • Once this has been done by the seller, the cheque bounces and the buyer then disappears, leaving the seller out of pocket.


Fraudsters send texts saying that they’re from your bank, and that they need you to update your personal details or speak with you urgently.

  • The text message can fall into previous genuine text threads which makes it look genuine.
  • The message normally contains a phone number (premium rate) to call or a link to a counterfeit website that asks you to enter personal details or transfer money as your account is at risk.
  • Never give out your personal or security details; you can provide a fraudster with everything they need to take money from your account.

Payment redirection scam

These scams happen when fraudsters intercept an email conversation between you and a legitimate contact who may be asking for payment for goods or services, such as a builder.

  • The fraudster may say that the bank account details for an outstanding or future payment needs to be changed and the email will appear to be from your genuine contact.
  • Always confirm any change of payment details with the company directly.
  • Do not respond to the email address the request has been sent from or use the contact details they provided – use a previously used number to verify the change.

Friendship and romance scams

Dating or romance scams are when you think you’ve met your perfect partner online, but they aren’t who they say they are. Once they’ve gained your trust they ask you for money for a variety of emotive reasons.

  • Never send money to anyone you don’t know and trust.
  • Never give your credit card or online account details to anyone.
  • Always chat through the dating site or chat room where you met – not via email.
  • Protect your privacy and don’t reveal too much information online, especially on social networks.

Staying safe

Key tips to help stop the threat of fraud and scams

  • Never give out your security details
  • Information like your card PIN, password or security numbers are personal to you and shouldn’t be shared with anyone – not even your bank. Your bank or the police will never ask you for PINs, passcodes in full or to surrender your bank card.
  • Advise your bank/finance company when you change your postal address, phone number or email address
  • This is so they can always contact you to talk about important information relating to your account. To help protect your account they’ll also contact you about any suspicious behaviour or transactions, even when you’re abroad.
  • Never transfer money out of your account if asked to do so for “security reasons”
  • You will never be asked to do this by your bank. If you’re asked to transfer money out of your account for “security reasons” end the call immediately, take a 5 minute break and call your bank.
  • Never reply to emails asking for your personal or “security information”
  • Your bank will never send an email asking for your information. If you get an email like this, it could be from a fraudster trying to get your confidential information. Any emails sent from a bank will always be addressed to you and won’t have a standard “Dear Customer” greeting.
  • Download free online security software
  • A lot of banks recommend that you use the trusted online security software Trusteer Rapport. This is free and it helps to protect you when using Online Banking. It can also be used alongside any standard anti-virus product.

Don’t forget

Always be wary of spam post and emails, people who visit unannounced and people who call saying they are police officers or bank staff.
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.