Financial scams

Financial scams take many forms

02 October 2019

3 minute read

Our fraud prevention team alerts you about new scams so you can take action to avoid them.

We’ve recently encountered scams from fraudsters claiming to be telecoms companies. Ofcom is aware of the problem and has issued guidance.

In one case, a client was tricked into providing fraudsters with his personal banking information and remote access to his computer. This happened over the course of 17 hours and was dressed up as a fraud-prevention measure.

If in doubt, call back

Reputable organisations will never ask you to reveal personal or financial data via an unsolicited phone call, email or text message – or for remote access to your mobile device or computer. If in doubt, always contact the organisation directly using a publicly-available phone number (not one the caller may provide) to check if the contact is legitimate.

Never assume a caller is genuine because of what they know, or because the telephone number or email address looks familiar – fraudsters are skilled at collecting information and using technology convincingly.

In this particular case, the client realised it was an account takeover when he saw funds leave his account immediately after the call. His quick thinking meant the funds could be traced and recovered – and it helped that the funds had been sent to another Barclays account. This meant the only loss to the client was the short-term suspension of his online banking.

Query unusual payment requests

Another more sophisticated scam our fraud team handled recently saw a client’s online banking accessed fraudulently and payments sent to their existing beneficiaries. The companies paid from the client’s account were then contacted by the fraudster, who claimed to be from the bank and asked them to process a refund in to their account.

This was a sophisticated scam, but fortunately, none of the companies contacted by the fraudster believed them and immediately contacted the client. The client was then able to contact us and we were able to retrieve the funds.

This is an example of an invoice scam, where fraudsters make contact and pretend to be a legitimate debtor – typically someone you already owe money to. They send an invoice or bill, either requesting payment or asking you to change the details of the account you usually pay into.

Always check with the company involved if you receive an invoice asking for an unusual payment or a change of details. Use a phone number you know you can trust – preferably one that’s publicly available. Don’t reply to an email or letter you’ve received, or call the phone numbers provided by the suspected scammer – they’re likely to be false.

Reporting scams and fraud

If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam or fraud please contact us* immediately on 0800 376 7954, or +44 207 574 3017 if you’re abroad.

The UK Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Warning List, for example, details firms and individuals that it knows are operating without its authorisation.

You can report the scam by contacting the FCA Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768 or by using its reporting form.

The FCA’s ScamSmart website also gives more details on preventing fraud.

Things to consider

The value of investments can fall as well as rise. You may get back less than what you originally invested.

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