‘Instant red flag’ How to spot a bank scam – 7 expert tips to avoid fraudsters

Banking scam: Caller details having £2000 stolen from account

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Fraudsters are most recently known to be taking advantage of the cost of living crisis, according to Barclays. With energy bills on the increase and the Government issuing a number of new household benefits to support families, this appears to be the new target topic area for scammers to strike.

A statement on Barclays’ website warns: “[Scammers] might pretend to represent local councils offering financial support, energy companies, or retailers offering too-good-to-be-true discounts, or direct you to fake loan websites or offers.

“The Government has recently announced a range of measures to help families with the rising cost of living. If someone calls you pretending to be from the council and asks for your bank details so they can give you a refund, hang up.

“If they text or email you, don’t click on any links. Councils will never call or email asking for your bank details.”

Another group scammers frequently target are consumers buying goods online, which, according to reports, can see victims scammed of values averaging a staggering £980.

While e-commerce continues to grow, Nick Drewe, a money-saving expert at discounts platform Wethrift shared the common types of fraud and most importantly, how to spot and avoid them.

What are the most common methods of contact from scammers?

Often scammers will use text messages to warn people that they’ve either had someone try to withdraw money from their account or that there is a problem with their account.

There will be a link to click on to resolve the issue. Clicking on the link and/or entering any personal information can immediately make it easier for hackers to breach accounts.

Another popular way for scammers to get in contact is through phone calls, according to Mr Drewe.

He said: “A phone call is usually something security-related, for example telling you someone has hacked your bank account or that you’ve been a victim of identity fraud.

“​​Authorised push payment scams can be really effective as fraudsters can easily ‘spoof’ phone numbers, meaning calls or text messages will look like they’re coming from your bank when it’s not actually your bank contacting you.

“If you are contacted and asked for details like your PIN, email password or 16-digit debit card number, do not give them out. Whilst the scammer may already know some personal information about you already, having these extra details will make it a lot easier for them to hack into your account.”

How to spot bank scams

A bank or member of the police will never call to ask for a PIN number or full banking password, according to Mr Drewe.

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He continued: “They won’t ask you to withdraw or transfer money to any other account, or send someone to your home to collect cash, a PIN number, cards or cheque books. So if you are asked to do this, it is an instant red flag.”

This also applies to Monzo, which would never call without arranging it through in-app chat first.

Mr Drewe said: “[Monzo] will also never ask you to share any sensitive information about yourself or your account, or move your money out of Monzo and into a different account – and a real bank will definitely never tell you to take out a loan.”

How to avoid online fraud

Set strong passwords

The best way to avoid hackers finding their way into accounts is by setting strong bank passwords that are not predictable, for example, your date of birth or family names.

Mr Drewe advised: “To make your passwords more secure, use a mix of lowercase and uppercase, numbers and make them 12 characters long.

“It is important to also never store passwords somewhere that they can be easily accessed by anyone else, like your notes page on your phone or computer. Keep your details written down on documents securely locked away.”

Research the company

For those making any new purchases, from car insurance to a large (or small) product or service, it’s advised to always research the company or website.

Mr Drewe said: “It’s helpful to check out their social media profiles and look into the reviews and ratings.

“You can also look to see whether they have a business address and landline number. This verification check must be done before you even think about disclosing your personal information.”

Be aware of a site URL

When shopping online, it’s advised to always check the website address to make sure the website is legitimate.

Mr Drewe said: “The address should begin with ‘https.’ and there should be a locked padlock symbol that appears on the URL bar.

“As well as this, sign up to Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Code when given the option. This process involves registering a password with your card company, which will add a further layer of security when you are shopping online.”

Make sure your internet connection is secure

Home Wi-Fi should always be protected with a password. If a hacker gains access to a person’s local network, it makes it much easier for them to get hold of personal information.

Mr Drewe said: “When using public wireless networks, such as in a library or cafe, be mindful about what information you are submitting on these as hackers can access your data much easier on an unprotected network.”

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