We all need to be aware of criminals trying to steal our money or our personal data. Here’s Recognise Bank’s guide to helping you keep your money safe.
At Recognise Bank, keeping your money safe is our priority, which is why we use technology to keep your money secure and have policies in place to help you protect your personal data. For example, we’ll never call you, email you or write to you to ask for your password. And if we call you over the phone, we won’t give out any information about your account until we’ve verified your identity.
However, criminals are constantly trying to trick people into revealing their personal details or to just simply steal their money, and financial scams are as big a worry now as they have ever been.
Here are our top tips on how to spot a scam and ways you can help protect yourself, your information and your money.
Five scams to be aware of
- The “Your bank account has been hacked” scam
Fraudsters will call you pretending to be from your bank, claiming that your account has been hacked and your money may have been stolen. The caller will tell you to transfer your money to a new account for safe keeping. But in fact, the new account belongs to criminals who will quickly steal your cash.
What can you do?
Never move your money if you get a call like this. If you are worried, hang up and contact your bank using the phone numbers on their official website and they will be able to help you – and always try to use a different phone to the one you were contacted on. Recognise Bank will never contact you by phone asking you to transfer your money.
- Phishing, vishing and smishing
These are similar scams that come via phone calls, emails or text. Over the phone, a scammer will try and get you to reveal your personal information. With email or text messages, you might be asked to click a link that will either direct you to a fake website designed to capture your personal data, or it will download malware onto your computer or phone. ‘Malware’ is a type of software that criminals use to steal your private information.
What can you do?
Never give out your personal data over the phone. Recognise Bank will never ask you for your personal data over the phone. And if we call you over the phone, we won’t give out any information about your account until we’ve verified your identity. Never click on links in emails or texts that you are not expecting.
Sometimes you can spot a fake email because it won’t be addressed to you personally or it will contain spelling mistakes – but always check because fraudsters are getting smarter with their scam emails. Always keep your technology and devices up to date with the latest operating system and most recent banking app to protect against malware attacks.
- Push payment scams
This is a kind of phishing scam that increased during COVID lockdowns. Often, it will be an email, a phone call or a text from a company such as a bank, video streaming platform, a courier, the Royal Mail or even the government. You might be told that your bank account has been hacked – such as in scam number one above – or that a payment is due for a subscription renewal or an underpayment on a delivery. Another version is that you are invited to apply for an official looking grant, such as a tax rebate or a cost-of-living loan.
If it’s a banking scam you will be asked to transfer money immediately to a safe account (which is actually the fraudster’s account), or you will be asked to click a link to make a payment or an application – but it is all fake and you’ll be handing your money or your personal details over to scammers.
What can you do?
If you actually use the company contacting you or sending the payment request, contact them directly to check if there is a problem or, if you really owe any money, how to make a payment. Also beware of payment demands for services that don’t cost money. The government will never contact you directly via text, phone or email to offer you a payment, so ignore the message and check the official government website if you think you are eligible for any kind of grant or rebate.
- Beware of fake websites
This could-be so-called ‘brand cloning’, whereby fraudsters create online adverts or search engine results for products like ISAs and pensions, directing consumers to fake websites made to look like real financial firms. But the products don’t exist, so any money you give them will be stolen. Other scammers simply create a website to sell non-existent products or hugely over-priced items, such as luxury watches.
What can you do?
Bookmark your bank’s website rather than searching for it every time, so you can be certain you have the correct site. For financial firms, ensure they have a secure website with the prefix ‘https://’ at the beginning of the address. Many good shopping sites will have a padlock symbol in the address bar to show it can be trusted, but not all retailers have this. If you’re not sure how trustworthy the website is, don’t use it.
- Investments that seem too good to be true
Whether it’s cryptocurrency offering amazing returns, or an opportunity to invest in vintage wine, some of these schemes are unregulated and risky, while others are just fake and will steal your money. Also look out for scammers trying to entice you to cash-in your pension and invest it in a get-rich-quick scheme.
What can you do?
If it looks too good to be true, then it usually is. Particularly beware of investment offers on social media. Research any investment providers and stick to well-known organisations. You can also check the FCA’s (Financial Conduct Authority) Warning List of scams to be aware of. If you’re not sure about a company or an investment, consult a regulated financial advisor before making any decisions.
It’s worth repeating, if the investment seems to be too good to be true, it most likely is. Typically, these types of scams are cold calls from out of the blue, or they are posted on social media – so ask yourself, why would an investment be on social media, why are they calling you and how can they really offer such fantastic returns with no risk?
What to do if you think you’ve been scammed
If you’re worried your Recognise Bank account has been targeted or your personal details may have been compromised contact us immediately. You can find out more about how we protect your savings here, which includes information about the FSCS scheme, which protects your savings up to £85,000 in the unlikely event that something happens to Recognise Bank.
With another provider, if you’ve transferred any money or made a payment, contact your bank or credit card provider immediately to see if you can stop the transaction. The same goes if you see unusual activity on your account or credit card.
For information on the most recent scams and frauds, or more guidance on how to protect yourself, visit the government’s Take Five anti-fraud website, the scams section of the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) website, or our regulator, the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) which publishes warnings and scam updates here.