-

Protect your personal data

Learn to better protect yourself

Whether by email, text or on social media, fraudsters can fool you into handing over personal details they then use to commit crime. Our guide will show you steps you can take to help stay safe online.

Why you need to stay alert

Fraudsters try to appear as legitimate as possible, so it’s important to be vigilant and stay alert to anything suspicious. Get up to speed with the frauds and scams listed below, and you’ll be better prepared if you find yourself a target. A fraud is a transaction on your account which you didn’t authorise and didn’t make yourself. A scam is where you make – or authorise - a payment from your account to somebody or something you believe is genuine. However, you have been duped instead.

Please contact us straightaway if someone has taken money from your Barclays account, or if you’ve accidentally given your personal details to a fraudster.

 

Types of data frauds and scams to watch out for

These are among the most common tricks currently used by fraudsters but they constantly come up with new ways to contact you, so be vigilant.

Fake social media ads

A tempting offer or deal pops up on your screen when you’re scrolling through your social media feed – but the too-good-to-be-true ad is exactly that and leaves you out of pocket.

How it could happen to you

  • You see eye-catching 'discount' adverts for items in your social media feed based on your recent internet searches or online activity. They can often feature the familiar face of a celebrity or TV star endorsing a product or service.
  • Similarly, a post on your social media account promises huge or 'guaranteed' investment returns. Only if you act quickly will you be able to take advantage, it says.
  • You click on the post and are then taken to a separate website touting the offer/opportunity.
  • It asks for your financial details and suggests payment by bank transfer. The goods never arrive or service never materialises.

Stop, think and act

Protect yourself from being scammed with a healthy dose of scepticism whenever you see pop-ups in your social media feeds.

For example, if your search for a new designer handbag triggers ads which tout incredible offers, ask yourself how real could these discounts be? If they're too big to believe, they're probably fake.

If an ad takes you to a website, examine its web address very carefully and compare it with that of the official brand – if it doesn't match or seems an unlikely fit, steer clear.

When a TV presenter’s photo appears to suggest they recommend a high-risk investment or particular product, always double-check their official social media or website. Look online to see if others have expressed similar concerns – spelling errors and image quality are warning signs and ask yourself if the image looks as if it's been digitally altered.

And if tempted by promises of easy profits, be suspicious – do your own research and double-check the firm behind them is legitimate by using the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Financial Services Register.

The ‘phishing’ email scam

Fraudsters are always fine-tuning the ‘phishing’ trick – an email which pretends to be from an authoritative source such as a bank, the taxman, a regulator or official company but is in fact a fake. As well as better spelling and grammar, they’ve improved the way it looks with logos that seem authentic and official phone numbers.

However, the ruse is the same – click on the link contained in the email and you’ll be taken to a fake website where you run the risk of giving away your financial details. Alternatively, you expose your computer to rogue software that helps the conmen steal your name, address and bank details and other personal information.

How it could happen to you

  • You receive what looks like a genuine email from a reputable organisation – your bank, a well-known firm, government body or regulator, say. 
  • It asks you to click a link for further details where you’re then tricked into sharing personal information, bank account details and even passwords. 
  • Alternatively, you may be prompted to download a form or file. This so-called ‘malicious software’ (malware) then gives fraudsters access to your details and money.

Stop, think and act

If you receive an unexpected email or one that you have no idea where it’s from, don’t open it – delete it. Never click on a link or open any attachment in it.

Forward any suspicious email that claims to be from Barclays to internetsecurity@barclays.co.uk then delete it straight away. Always make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware software are up to date, and your firewall is strong.

Bank transfer scam

Fraudsters call you on the telephone, impersonating someone from your bank, police, a utility or service provider. They trick you into divulging personal financial information which they then use to gain access to your bank account and transfer money out. This is also known as an ‘impersonator’, ‘vishing’ or ‘courier’ scam.

How it could happen to you

  • A call out of the blue – usually, but not always, to your mobile – alerts you to possible fraud on your account. The caller typically claims to be a specialist from your bank’s fraud prevention department, a police officer, or an employee at a major service provider.
  • You’re told that scammers have been trying to access your account. In order to investigate, the caller asks you some standard bank security questions – maiden names, birthday dates or other personal numbers, for example.
  • You may be told this will help confirm any criminal activity or that it’s vital to move your cash urgently to a ‘safe account’.
  • To reassure you, the scammers may already have bits of info about you that they use – your name, address and phone number – which make the call feel more genuine.
  • After handing over personal info, the caller may also then tell you to read out a series of codes they send to your phone by text – these codes may be described to you as being an extra layer of safety or security.
  • The call then ends, often with a final request not to log in to your account for a matter of hours.
  • Various twists on this scam see you warned that your local bank staff are being investigated as part of a suspected fraud. To keep your account safe, you must withdraw the cash from it and then meet the alleged fraud prevention officer in person to hand it over. The scammers may also tell you to lie to bank counter staff if asked what the money is for – to say it is for a family member, say, or to pay a bill for building work.
  • Or you may be advised that to prevent the fraud, a courier has been sent to your home address to pick up your bank cards and PIN for safekeeping.

Stop, think and act

We will never ask you to move your money to a ‘safe’ account. The police won’t either. If you get an unexpected phone call from someone claiming to be from us or the police, hang up – wait for a few minutes or until the line is clear – and then call the number on the back of your bank card to report it. If you can, use another phone to do so.

Never disclose your PIN or hand over your bank cards to anyone. We will never visit your home address and ask you to give us your cards, PINs and personal details. The police won’t either. If you accidentally share your details and later realise you’ve been duped, call your bank immediately. You should use a different phone to the one the fraudsters called you on. This is because they can intercept your outgoing calls, even after you’ve ended the fraudulent call – so they could pretend to be your bank when you try to report them. The number to call should be listed on the back of your payment card.

  • If you bank with us, you can always use our  telephone number checker to make sure the number is genuine and for advice on how to proceed.

The ‘smishing’ text message scam

Your inbox pings with a text message that appears to be from your bank, a major company or local authority warning you of fraud – and asking you to take urgent action. You reply or call a given number, and end up giving away details such as log-in passwords, your bank account details and other personal information that fraudsters can use to defraud you. The term ‘smishing’ stems from the original name for a text, ‘SMS’ (short message service) and ‘phishing’.

How it could happen to you

  • You receive an unexpected text message from your bank, a number you’ve never seen before, or it seemingly comes from a major company, public body or authority such as a financial regulator.
  • It contains an ‘urgent’ message, and asks you to take immediate action by clicking on a link to a website or calling a telephone number you don’t recognise.
  • If you click through, you’re asked to provide personal information, such as your bank account password and financial details. These can then be used to steal cash from you or to commit identity fraud.
  • Call up instead and, once the conversation starts, you’re told that scammers have been trying to access your account. In order to investigate, the caller asks you some standard bank security questions – maiden names, birthday dates or other personal numbers, for example.
  • You may be told this will help confirm any criminal activity or that it’s vital to move your cash urgently to a ‘safe account’.
  • To reassure you, the scammers may already have bits of info about you that they use – your name, address and phone number – which make the call feel more genuine.
  • After handing over personal info, the caller may also then tell you to read out a series of codes they send to your phone by text – these codes may be described to you as being an extra layer of safety or security.
  • The call then ends, often with a final request not to log in to your account for a matter of hours.

Stop, think and act

Don’t click on any links, and – if it seems to be from your bank – always double-check any telephone numbers embedded in the text by visiting their official website.

If you bank with us, use our telephone number checker to make sure the number is genuine. If it isn’t, delete the text message from your phone. If the text does appear to warn you of a genuine security concern, call your bank on the telephone number listed on the back of your card.

The social media ‘hack’ into your account

Fraudsters hack into social media accounts and impersonate their owners. If you’re listed as a friend, family member or colleague on the account, they get in touch and plead for your help in an emergency. You’re tricked into sending money or divulging your bank details to save them.

How it could happen to you

  • You’re contacted by someone you know who says they suddenly and desperately need money. Often, they can seem embarrassed or apologetic to make it feel more genuine.
  • The bogus cause is usually (but not always) a recent overseas accident, which means that hospital fees need paying, or a hold-up overseas which has triggered a need for a cash lifeline.
  • They ask you to transfer money to an account, or to share your bank details to cover the costs.

Stop, think and act

Always check that an urgent message like this hasn’t come from a hacked account. Speak to the real person directly to see if their request is genuine.

For more info about keeping your social media profiles safe, see the Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter websites.

Our top tips to help you stay digitally safe

’Safe account’ scam

No genuine bank would message you to transfer money to a ‘safe account’ – ignore anyone who asks you to do this, whether it’s by phone, email or any other method.

Protect your PIN

Never give out your PINsentry codes1, Mobile PINsentry codes, passcodes or Online Banking passwords1 and other full passwords to anyone.

Create a strong password

Mix numbers, letters and other symbols. Try a memorable phrase such as ‘I started Baker Secondary School in 2000!’ and use each word’s initial letter i.e. IsBSSi2000!

Click links carefully

While links in emails or texts from family or friends may be fine, don’t click on any link (or open attachments) in unsolicited emails or in texts you weren’t expecting.

Avoid ‘remote access’

Don’t let someone you don’t know have access to your computer, especially remotely over the phone (not face-to-face).

Always double-check

If you’re not sure you’re safe or something feels unusual, remember to always check, act with care, and never share.

Scams protection update

We are proud to have signed up to the Contingent Reimbursement Model, a voluntary code effective from 28 May 2019. The code aims to offer you better protection from Authorised Push Payment (APP) scams.

An APP scam is a payment made by you, through Faster Payments or CHAPS, where you intend to transfer funds to somebody, but are instead deceived into transferring the funds to someone else; or you transfer funds for what you believe is a genuine purpose, and this turns out to be fraudulent.  

We are continuing to increase the protection we offer you, to combat the prevalence of scams and reduce their impact. We will do everything we can to protect you. However, it is also important for you to protect yourself – our guides will show you the steps you can take.

You may also like…

How to report fraud

Think you’ve been a victim?

Get in touch with us right away if you think you’ve seen suspicious activity on your account. Here you’ll find the numbers you need, the next steps to take and what we’ll do to help. 

Protecting your account

How we help to keep your money safe

We always look out for threats from fraudsters. Here are some measures we take to make sure your money is secure.

Digitally safe quiz

How digitally safe are you?

Would you recognise a fake caller, spot a phishing email or know when a fraudster is trying to take control of your computer? Take our interactive challenge to find out.

Make money work for you

Take control of your finances

We understand that money can be overwhelming, so we’ve put together helpful articles and easy-to-follow guides to help you feel financially confident.