A bank transfer scam, also known as an authorised push payment (APP) scam, is when money is transferred from your bank account to a fraudster. It could be due to a payment that you sent in good faith or money that was taken without your knowledge. There were over 84,000 cases of bank transfer fraud last year in the UK, with around £228m stolen from individuals.
What are banks doing to protect their customers?
Until now banks were not always able to reimburse customers if they had fallen victim to an APP scam, but from 28 May 2019 a new voluntary scheme came into force. More victims of fraud will be reimbursed, but both banks and customers have to take certain steps to stop fraud happening in the first place. For example, your bank must give you information to help you keep your money safe, and you have to do all you can to be sure the person or organisation you are paying is genuine.
Most UK banks have signed up to the scheme, but not all of them.
Find out if your bank has signed up
How you can protect yourself against bank transfer fraud
Most people assume they would never fall for an APP scam, but scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated. Techniques they use include:
- Telling you you’ve been a victim of fraud to make you panic and gain your trust.
- Knowing some personal information about you, such as your date of birth or mother’s maiden name.
- Giving a time limit or a deadline within which you need to take action.
Can you spot fraud? Try the Take Five test
5 tips for avoiding falling victim to bank transfer fraud:
1. Never call a number you don’t recognise
Your bank will never ask you to call a number you don’t recognise. If you receive an email or text supposedly from your bank, call them from the number on their website or on the back of your debit or credit card.
The same goes for answering calls from numbers you don’t recognise. However, criminals can now disguise their numbers to look like genuine phone numbers, so be aware of that tactic too.
2. Don’t give out any personal details
Your bank will never contact you to ask for any personal information such as your password or your PIN.
3. Don’t click on any unknown links
Avoid clicking on unknown links or opening unknown files. The same goes for pop-up windows in your internet browser.
4. Check if a website is genuine
To check if a website is real, look for a padlock sign next to the website address. If the site weblink starts with “https” this means the site is secure and protects customer details using encryption.
5. Don’t be rushed into transferring money
If someone tries to rush or panic you, alarm bells should ring immediately – a genuine organisation would never rush you to make a decision. Do not transfer any money at this stage. If need be, make an excuse such as your doorbell ringing and use this time to gather your thoughts.
What to do if you think you may have been scammed
If you think you may have been scammed, let your bank know immediately so they can try to stop the transfer. Criminals rely on you feeling too embarrassed to tell anyone you were duped, but that’s better than losing money to bank transfer fraud.
More information from Which? on what to do if you’re a victim of a bank transfer (APP) scam