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How to spot a bank scam before it's too late

The fastest growing type of scams are known as authorised push payment fraud (APP fraud).

This scam usually works with a fraudster contacting you over the phone, by email or on social media pretending to be someone you trust, like your bank. And ends with the scammers convincing you to send them money.

We've outlined what these bank scams usually look like, how authorised push payment fraud works and how to protect yourself from fraud.

How to spot a bank phone scam before it's too late 👀

  • You might have received a phone call claiming to be from your bank telling you there's a problem with you account

  • The phone call is usually something security related like telling you someone has hacked your bank account or you've been a victim of identity fraud

  • The scammers will ask you to transfer the money into a 'safe account' until the problem is solved or open up a brand new account for you over the phone

  • They might also have asked for personal information like your PIN, email password or 16-digit debit card number. They might know some personal information about you already. This is to establish trust

  • The scammers might be rushing you to tell them these personal details or to make the bank transfer by repeatedly telling you your account is at risk. They also might say that you could lose all your money if you don't move it immediately

  • Don't transfer any money and don't give them any of these details: This is a scam!

How do these bank scams work?

Authorised push payment scams can be really effective as fraudsters can easily "spoof" phone numbers. This means calls or text messages look like they're coming from your bank, when it's not actually your bank getting in touch.

Fraudsters can also use scare tactics to make you believe your money isn't safe. They might've said there was a serious security issue with your account. So to protect your money, you need to move it all to a ‘safe account’ or to a new account they've created for you by making a bank transfer immediately.

They give you the account details and tell you you need to act urgently, or risk losing all your money. They could also have asked you to disclose personal details like your PIN, email password or the 16-digit number on the front of your debit card.

What should you do if this happens to you?

Don't make any bank transfers. Authorised push payment fraud is an increasingly common kind of scam where someone tricks you into sending them money from your account.

Remember that your bank or the police will never:

  • Call to ask you for your PIN or full banking password

  • Ask you to withdraw or transfer money to any other account

  • Send someone to your home to collect cash, a PIN number, cards or cheque books

If you use Monzo, we’ll also never:

  • Call you without arranging it through in-app chat first

  • Ask you to share any sensitive information about yourself or your account, like your PIN

  • Ask you to move your money out of Monzo and into a different account

  • Explicitly tell you to take out a loan

If you have any doubts at all, it's always better to double check than go along with it. Because once your money’s gone, it's often incredibly difficult to get it back. Find out more about what we do to protect you.

If you've received a call that sounds like it could be a scam, hang up the phone. Calling the number back means that you'll be calling back the person who scammed you so call your bank directly using the number on your credit or debit card. They'll let you know if there actually is a problem with your account.

If you think you've been a victim of a scam, you should also get in touch with Action Fraud by either calling 0300 123 2040, or by using their online form.

Sending a bank transfer makes it almost impossible to get your money back

The biggest problem is that making a bank transfer is a lot like paying in cash. So if you’ve been scammed into sending money to a fraudster, getting your money back can be very difficult.

A bank transfer moves the money instantly, so it’s almost impossible to cancel. And the fraudster can quickly move the stolen money elsewhere, before you realise anything’s gone wrong.

How to protect yourself from fraud

Here are some important tips to help you avoid falling victim to a scam like this:

Question who you’re talking to

Remember that fraudsters may know basic details about you, and can fake phone numbers, names and email addresses.

If someone claiming to be from your bank contacts you out of the blue, hang up the phone and get in touch with them directly using known contact details (you can usually find a bank's contact details on the back of your debit/credit card).

Take your time

Fraudsters will often try to scare you into sending money or revealing details, by saying that your account is under threat or they'll involve the police if you don't comply.

An organisation you trust will never try to panic you, stop you from talking to friends or family, or force you into making a bank transfer on the spot. If someone is pressuring you to send money over the phone, tell them you'll think about it, hang up and call your bank using known contact details.

Have the confidence to say no

Listen to your gut instincts and leave the conversation if something feels off.

A trustworthy person shouldn’t make you feel embarrassed or guilty. If you have any doubts at all, it's always better to contact your bank using known details and asking them directly about the conversation you've had.

Don't just trust someone on the other end of the phone because they sound professional and say they work for your bank. Because once your money has gone, it's often incredibly difficult to get it back.

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