Financial Scams

Financial scams

Fraudsters are coming up with increasingly sophisticated ways to get hold of your money. Here are some of the more common scams and some tips on how to avoid them.

Also visit our investment fraud information page to find out more about investment scams.

Email scams

Phishing is a type of confidence trick – it's one of the ways fraudsters manipulate people to reveal confidential information and get hold of their money. Fraudsters will send emails with links to bogus sites in an attempt to capture your information and get access to your bank account. Other emails may trick you into downloading malicious software (malware) that helps fraudsters get hold of your details and your money.

The emails look like they are from legitimate organisations and give a plausible story to try to trick you into clicking a link, downloading something or opening an attachment. Some attachments install what is known as 'ransomware' on your computer. It encrypts all of your files, including music and photos, and the fraudster then asks for a 'ransom' to release them (often over £1,000).

Common tactics

  • Emails that look like they're from your bank claiming you need to update or verify your account information by logging in to your account via a link. The link is to a bogus site made to look like your Online Banking log-in page
  • Emails that look like they're from your bank asking you to confirm a recent transaction (which you haven't made) by opening an attachment
  • Emails that look like they’re from HMRC claiming you’re entitled to a tax refund and including a link where you can enter your bank details
  • Emails that look like they’re from Royal Mail or another delivery company telling you that you have a parcel for collection and asking you to open at attachment to get more information

There are numerous variations and fraudsters impersonate many different organisations.

Tips to help protect yourself

  1. Use internet security software and make sure you run a full scan of your computer, tablet and/or smartphone regularly. If you’re an Online Banking customer, we offer free Kaspersky internet security for your computers and mobile devices.
  2. Always log in to Online Banking via this website. Never go to the log-in page via a link in an email, or give any personal or security information to a site you've reached via a link.
  3. Be wary of opening attachments in emails you're not expecting or are unsure about. If in doubt, delete it.
  4. Never send confidential information by email. It can easily be intercepted by a third party and we will never ask you to email personal details, account information or passwords.
  5. Keep your important files backed up and store them off your network.
  6. Never pay ransom money to criminals to release encrypted files – there's no guarantee they'll honour the payments.
  7. If your computer does get infected, seek professional assistance advice straightaway.

If you have any concerns or think you may have been a victim of any kind of online fraud, contact us straightaway.


Vishing is short for 'voice phishing'. It's similar to phishing but can be much more persuasive because of the personal element. Basically, a fraudster will call their victim and pose as a reputable company, taking advantage of the person's trust in that company.

Vishing fraudsters are very manipulative. Get to know their most common tactics so you won’t become their next victim.

Common tactics

  • Fraudsters say they're from a satellite TV provider and offer you a refund on insurance. To process the refund, they'll ask you to input your debit card into your PINsentry card reader and give your authorisation codes. They'll then use the codes to make fraudulent Online Banking payments from your account
  • Fraudsters say they're from a phone or utility company and give you a story similar to the above, getting you to give them your PINsentry codes
  • Fraudsters say they're from the bank fraud team and say there’s a problem with your account. They ask you to transfer money to a new account in your name, but the money is actually going to the fraudster's account
  • Fraudsters say they're from the police and that they need your help in investigating corrupt bank branch staff, getting you to take money out from the branch or cash machine and hand it over for 'use in the investigation' or for 'safekeeping'
  • Fraudsters say they're from Barclays and persuade you to go to a cash machine to finish your Mobile Banking app registration, in the end getting access to your accounts

Tips to help protect yourself

  • If you get an unsolicited phone call, be on alert
  • If someone calls asking for your personal details, end the call. Then call the company back at a telephone number you get from their official website (or from one of your statements or bills). Just make sure the initial call had been properly disconnected. Try calling one of your good friends first and then call the company back. Or, better yet, use a different phone
  • Know that banks or the police will never ask you to withdraw or hand over cash, or transfer funds to another account, even if they say it's in your name
  • Know that banks and other legitimate companies will never ask for your PIN, password, PINsentry codes or full security details when calling you. Never accept instructions from anyone asking you to enter an account number and amount into the PINsentry card reader unless you wish to make that payment
  • If you get an automated call from our fraud-detection service, we'll only ask you to confirm your date of birth by selecting from several choices. We won't ask you for any other security details

Courier scam

Fraudsters will try to get your bank card and PIN by contacting you and pretending to be your bank or the police. They’ll tell you that there’s a problem with your card or account and will either ask for you to tell them your PIN or key it into the phone. They’ll then send someone to collect your card. They may try to reassure you by asking you to phone the bank yourself, but will leave the line open so you’ll unknowingly remain connected to them.

Tips to help protect yourself:

  • We’ll never call to collect your card. Neither will the police
  • Never give your card to a ‘courier’ or any other stranger
  • Never share your PIN or enter it into a telephone
  • Before calling back to verify a call from your bank, the police or others asking for your details, make sure your phone has a dial tone. Better yet, use a different phone or call someone else you know and trust first
  • If you’ve been scammed, contact us immediately on 0345 734 5345 1

Advance fee fraud

This type of scam involves promising you a substantial amount of money or other opportunities. This could be a lottery or prize draw, an inheritance claim, career prospects, money transfer schemes or PPI refunds. You’ll be asked to pay an upfront fee to collect your money. However, the fraudster will take this and you will see nothing in return.

Tips to help protect yourself:

  • Scammers could phone, email, write letters or even visit in person. They will often look and sound very convincing
  • Treat any such offers with suspicion and remember if it seems too good to be true, it probably is
  • Don’t respond to unsolicited promises of money in return for payment. Genuine lotteries, prize draws or inheritance payments never require you to pay a fee to make a claim
  • If you haven’t entered a particular lottery or prize draw, you can’t win it
  • Legitimate PPI claims companies will not ask for a fee upfront to help you with your PPI claim
  • Report any possible advance-fee fraud to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online
  • Visit the FCA and Action Fraud websites to learn more about these types of scams. The Little Book of Big Scams published by the Metropolitan Police also contains information about different scams

Software scam

This type of fraudster will claim to be from a computer company or a technical department of a bank. They'll say your computer has a virus or security threat and ask to access it or convince you to install special software.

This is so they can install ‘malware’, which is malicious software that allows them to access your passwords and steal money from your online bank account. Sometimes they may even try to charge you for their ‘help’.

Tips to help protect yourself:

  • Legitimate computer companies and banks will never make unsolicited calls to you and say that your computer needs repairs
  •  Never allow any unsolicited person to access or install software on your computer
  • If someone calls you out of the blue, don’t follow their instructions to go to a website, type anything into your computer or install software
  • If you’re contacted, try to get the caller’s information and report the call to Action Fraud

Online shopping scams

Online shopping scams include those where people advertise goods or services that don’t exist or aren’t theirs to sell. Often, the seller will request that payment is made directly to a bank account, rather than via secure methods such as Paypal or credit card, coming up with a story to make their request seem reasonable. The goods don’t arrive and the buyer is unable to contact the seller after the money has been sent.

Common tactics

  • Fraudsters use well-known auction sites such as Gumtree or eBay to sell fictitious cars, caravans, tickets, cameras and other electrical goods
  • Fraudsters use genuine vehicle trading websites to advertise and accept payments for goods that don’t exist
  • Fraudster advertise holiday lets online and people enter into agreements pay the fraudster, not realising they aren’t the owners of the property or that the property doesn’t exist

Tips to help protect yourself:

  • When buying online, always use the internet site’s insured payment methods – never make payments direct to the seller’s bank account
  • Do some research to make sure the site/seller is genuine – read independent review sites because they will be more inclined to be truthful
  • Be cautious of sellers who don’t have a track record for selling similar items and never buy from a bidder with a poor rating
  • Don’t pay for high-value items, like cars, on online auction sites without seeing the items first
  • Remember if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is

Money mules

This scam offers you the chance to earn some easy money for a few hours' work each week, but beware – handling money that's been obtained fraudulently is a crime, even if you're not knowingly complicit in the original fraud.

‘Money mules’ or ‘money-transfer agents’ receive funds into their accounts and then move the money on, typically sending it overseas. The funds are money that fraudsters have stolen from other people’s bank accounts. Money mules are often ordinary people recruited through a variety of methods, including spam emails, genuine job-search websites, email responses to an online CV, instant messaging and newspaper ads. Payment will be offered in return for moving the money, either in the form of a basic ‘salary’ or by keeping a percentage of the funds.

Help protect yourself from becoming involved by:

  • Treating any unsolicited job offers with suspicion, especially if the company is based overseas
  • Verifying the details of any company that you’re considering working for
  • Not giving your bank account details to anyone whom you don't know and trust

Remember the golden rule: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Important information
1. Lines are open Monday to Sunday 7am–11pm. To maintain a quality service, we may monitor or record phone calls. Call charges