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Bank scammers – out in force

More than £500m has been stolen from customers of British banks so far in 2018. £358m was lost to unauthorised fraud, which means customers weren’t conned into transferring money, but rather that the scammers helped themselves to bank account contents.

These instances of unauthorised fraud come in many different guises, such as purchase scams, where we are convinced to buy goods or services that do not actually exist; card cloning or digital theft of bank details. Most victims of these types of fraud will have their money refunded by their bank. However, if you transfer money to someone and it turns out to be a scam, it is unlikely you will get any refund as you have authorised that payment.

This strikes a personal note with me this month that has added to my outrage, as I opened up my online banking app to find there were a number of purchases I didn’t recognise. The scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated, as these were purchases from some of the online stores that I use quite regularly and so the scammers clearly had accessed information to suggest what my spending history would be and, in an attempt to camouflage themselves amongst my other purchases, had chosen similar outlets. I check my bank account quite regularly and so was lucky to notice these quite quickly, but if you don’t check your account so often, have joint accounts or have the ideal situation of maybe not noticing money going missing each month, the scammers could make a fortune. Lucky only £100 or so went missing before I noticed, but when I contacted my bank they said that a further £1,000 had been requested to be debited from my account which had luckily been blocked!

Whilst most banks will repay these sums with no issues, I must say that I did get a grilling on my transactions: where the payments had been requested from and questions that suggested I may have been trying to mislead them in some way. I understand that they must be vigilant for scammers from this angle, but for someone who is just trying to report a crime and be compensated, it was a frustrating and troubling experience.

The message here is to be vigilant and keep an eye on things! As technology evolves I have certainly become less concerned with where my passwords and credit card information are stored. With everyone offering to remember these details for you, why wouldn’t you jump with joy at not having to remember 87 different passwords? In an ideal world your bank will call to advise you of this type of situation – after all that is one of the reasons we use a bank, rather than keeping our money bundles stuffed underneath our mattresses, right? Maybe there are just too many scammers out there to keep up with!