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How to prevent and spot bank fraud

Bank fraud is on the rise. In April 2024, Barclays released data showing a 23% increase in monies lost to scams in 2023. In a separate report, The Guardian said that UK fraud more than doubled in the same year, with a total of £2.3 billion lost across the country.

With high street banks continuing to close, digital banking becoming the norm, and many people being uncomfortable using online banking platforms and apps, it’s arguably never been easier for fraudsters to access your finances.

Knowing what to look for can help you avoid fraud. And knowing the tell-tale signs you’ve been scammed can help you quickly identify and rectify potential problems.

Who can help me if I fall victim to bank fraud?

It depends on what’s happened and where and how you lost money.

Sometimes, your bank might even tell you it’s your fault and that they cannot help you! Not only do some banks rate significantly worse than others when it comes to fraud prevention, but some are also pretty lousy at getting you your money back.

If you are in this situation, contact us for a free, no-obligation review of your case.

Depending on the outcome of our review, we may be able to help you get your money back.

But, of course, the most desirable scenario is that you don’t fall foul of fraud in the first place.

How to prevent and spot bank fraud

You can do eight big things to help prevent yourself from falling victim to bank fraud – or to spot that it has happened if you have.

  1. Check your transactions.
  2. Set up spending notifications.
  3. Limit your exposure to fraudsters.
  4. Don’t click links in messages and emails.
  5. Know the signs of fraud before you send money.
  6. Don’t automatically believe the caller ID when your phone rings.
  7. Pay attention to all bank checks and warnings.
  8. Change your passwords regularly.

Let’s explore each of these in more detail.

1.      Check your transactions

Make a habit of checking your bank account and any credit card accounts – all of them, not just those you know you regularly use! – at least twice a week.

A good general rule of thumb is to tailor how often you check to the frequency you use your account or card.

For example, if you only use your bank account for direct debits, a check at the start and end of the week should be sufficient. In contrast, if you use your credit card multiple times a day, checking every other day will help you keep track of things and mean you don’t waste time trying to remember everywhere you’ve been and everything you’ve spent.

By checking your transactions regularly, you limit the time fraudsters have to misappropriate your funds and give yourself the best chance of limiting any losses if your bank or credit card provider doesn’t identify unusual spending patterns before you notice them.

2.      Set up spending notifications

In addition to regularly checking your transactions, it’s a good idea to set up spending notifications via your Google or Apple Wallet and your online banking or credit card apps, where such a feature is available.

Depending on what you use your bank account for, it may also be worth turning on notifications for monies paid into your account, too, so you know everything that’s going on with your finances.

When you’re receiving spending notifications, you can instantly call your bank or credit card provider if transactions happen without your knowledge.

3.      Limit your exposure to fraudsters

You might have multiple bank accounts or credit cards for several reasons.

However, the more financial accounts you have, the more chances fraudsters have of getting at your money. Consider whether you need that extra credit card you never use but keep “just in case”.

If you might use it one day, so might a fraudster.

4.      Don’t click links in messages and emails

One of the most common ways we become victims of financial fraud is by clicking links in text messages or emails that claim to be from our bank, credit card provider, or even a family member or friend.

If you receive such a message, don’t click on anything within it and don’t reply.

Instead, you should:

  • Contact your bank or credit card provider and ask if they’ve sent you a text message or email.
  • Contact the friend or family member who supposedly sent the message. Ideally, you should call them to speak to them and be sure it’s them. These days, sophisticated scammers can easily replicate a Facebook account, phone number, or email address, but it’s a little more difficult to mimic the voice of someone they’ve probably never met and are just using as a vehicle to steal your money.

5.      Know the signs of fraud before you send money

Many people fall victim to bank fraud because they’re pressured into making payments or sharing personal details.

Here’s what to look out for if you find yourself on the phone with someone you suspect isn’t genuine:

  • They claim that the need for cash is urgent, trying to panic you into transferring them some money. They often pretend to be your bank and say you must move your money because your account is compromised. This may also happen via text message, email, or social media platforms like Facebook Messenger by people pretending to be someone you know. These situations are called impersonation scams.
  • People who ask for your PIN, your password for a particular service in full, or for the last three digits on the back of your card.
  • People who ask for other personal details, like your address, date of birth, or phone number. Fraudsters only need a little information to be able to steal your identity or access your accounts, so be vigilant at all times!

If you answer a call and are suspicious that it’s not genuine, hang up and then call back whoever claimed to be speaking to you. Remember to find the phone number online rather than calling back the number that called you!

In addition to impersonation scams, it also pays to be wary of certain types of scams that have become increasingly common in recent years, including:

  • Investment scams – when you send money thinking you’re investing in a specific opportunity or a product like cryptocurrency or foreign exchange.
  • Romance scams when you meet someone online who gains your trust and makes you think you’re in a romantic relationship with them but needs money for an emergency or something similar. The volume of romance scams grew significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Purchase scams when you send money for something that never arrives. In years past, purchase scams often involved “high ticket” items like cars, but in recent times they’ve more commonly become associated with lower value, high demand items like the latest smartphone or games console.
  • Other push payment scams – when you send money via your mobile banking app or online banking platform for any other reason. All of the scam types we’ve explained here can be considered push payment scams.

If you’ve fallen victim to any of these scams, we may be able to help you get your money back.

Contact us now to explain your situation and get a free, no-obligation review of your case.

6.      Don’t automatically believe the caller ID when your phone rings

Did you know that scammers can fake the caller ID name and the phone number that appears on your smartphone screen? So even if your phone recognises the number as a “genuine” number from your bank or credit card provider, there’s no guarantee it is them.

Just like you shouldn’t click links or reply to text messages or emails claiming to be from a financial service or a loved one from an unfamiliar number or address, you shouldn’t answer the phone.

Instead, look up the relevant phone number online, call them back by typing it into your phone digit by digit, and ask if they called you. If they didn’t, then well done – you’ve avoided falling victim to a scam. If they did, they’ve got you on the phone, and you can do what you need.

7.      Pay attention to all bank checks and warnings

Whether buying something online or sending money via your online banking app, you will encounter several warnings and security reminders before you can do what you’re trying to do.

And yes, you’ve seen them all before, making it incredibly easy to say yes and click until it’s done, but you must take the time to check them.

Are you sure you’re buying from where you think you’re buying from? Are you sending money to the business or person you think you are?

Taking an extra few minutes to double-check everything could save you a lot of distress and time trying to sort things out later.

8.      Change your passwords regularly

Even if you haven’t noticed any unusual activity on your accounts, changing your passwords regularly is a great way to keep yourself safe and reduce the risk of becoming a victim of fraud. Add a note to your calendar every three months to change all your passwords.

And, if you do click on a link in a text message or email and enter your details thinking you’re signing into your bank or credit card account and quickly realise you shouldn’t have done so, immediately changing your password can often help you avoid the worst.

If you find yourself in this situation, call your bank or credit card provider anyway and explain the situation. They may be able to take further steps to protect your account, such as cancelling your card or monitoring activity for a specific period.

If you do fall victim to bank fraud, LawPlus Solicitors can help!

We understand that realising you’ve fallen victim to fraud can be distressing, and you might even find yourself feeling stupid or embarrassed, especially if your bank is unhelpful and makes you feel like it was your fault.

But the truth is, you’re not to blame.

Modern fraudsters are increasingly convincing and sophisticated; the savviest individuals can occasionally fall foul, and there have even been stories of experienced investors falling for investment scams!

When you find yourself in this difficult situation, our friendly and sympathetic team is on hand to help you and identify if we can get your money back.

Get in touch now for a free, no-obligation review of your case, and let’s put things right together.

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