Financial Scams: tips and resources to stay safe

Financial scams are the most harrowing form of hidden crime in our community. As an MP, I have seen first-hand how horrifying the impact of these scams can be for constituents unlucky enough to be caught by them. They are often targeted at older households, with 70% of over-55s having received a scam email and 36% a scam call, although younger people can be approached too.

I encourage everyone to remain vigilant. I hope that the following tips (by no means an exhaustive list) are helpful:

  1. Your bank will never email you asking for personal information

Always be wary of spam emails, especially those claiming to be from the bank. It is also worth remembering that any correspondence will be addressed directly to you, rather than the generic ‘Dear Customer’.

  1. Your bank will never ask you to transfer money to a ‘safe account’.

One of the most common scams, known as ‘vishing’, involves fraudsters posing as representatives of your bank and informing you of fraudulent activity on your account. They will then ask you to transfer money to a ‘safe account’, which will actually belong to the person calling. When the authenticity of the call is questioned, fraudsters tell you to call your bank directly and immediately. The scam exploits a loophole in the telephone system that keeps the line open for a few minutes after you believe the call has ended, so while you may think you are calling your bank, you are actually still on the line to the fraudsters.

  1. Your bank will never ask you for your PIN, and will only ever ask you for part of other personal information.

Your PIN, passwords or security numbers are personal to you and should not be shared with anyone, not even your bank. Your bank will never ask you for your full details, and will only ever ask for partial information, for example the first and fifth letters of your password.

  1. If you are worried about a phone call, always call the bank from a different phone line, or if you can’t do this, wait at least five minutes before making another call.

Scammers will often pressure you to act immediately, however there is no need to do so. It is always advisable to take a break before making another call.

  1. If you are caught out, report it! Do not be embarrassed – by reporting the scam you may be able to recover your money, or help prevent others falling victim.

There is no shame in being deceived and it could happen to anyone. Fraud costs people in the UK £9.1 billion every year, so if you are caught out, you are not alone.

Further information and advice can be found through the following links:

Financial Fraud Action UK give both an explanation of the scam, as well as some further advice

Which? offer a summary of this advice and some further tips

Barclays Fraud Smart Tips include a video that shows how these scams work

For more comprehensive advice, see the Metropolitan Police’s “Little Book of Big Scams”