Your feedback is essential to help us improve - click here to take our 3 minute survey.

How to spot and block scams

How to spot and block scams
Image source: Getty Images


A new month, a new scam – or so it seems. To help customers keep their finances secure, Metro Bank runs a series on how to spot scams. Bank impersonation is June’s scam of the month.

This scam is simple but often hard to recognise right away. Basically, it consists of a text, phone call or email from somebody claiming to be from your bank. In reality, the contact comes from a fraudster trying to get you to send money or share your login or other personal information. 

How do impersonation scams work?

Spoofing is a common scam in which a company’s email or phone number is cloned to trick you. Sometimes the phone number is off by just one digit or the email address includes the name of your bank in it but also extra words, letters or numbers you might not notice right away.

The sender can use many different messages to trick you, such as telling you there’s a security issue with your account that needs to be addressed right away. According to Metro Bank, you’re then asked to move your money to a different account to ‘protect it’. This new account is, of course, managed by the fraudster, who then has access to your funds.

How can you spot bank scams?

It can be difficult to spot a scam that involves a fraudster impersonating your bank, especially if they’re spoofing the bank’s phone number. According to Adam Speakman, head of fraud and investigations at Metro Bank. “Alarm bells should be ringing if you are being pressed to act fast. Your bank will never ask you to move funds, especially if it’s to a different bank.”

Also, it’s important to remember that your bank cannot simply open a secondary account on your behalf. If the person on the phone tells you that an account is ready and that you should send your money now, then the new account simply cannot be yours.

Other signs of a scam:

  • Being pressured to ‘act now’ or ‘make a decision right now’
  • Someone asking you to download anything (an app, software, a file) to ‘safeguard’ your account
  • Being asked for personal information, such as your password or PIN
  • Someone telling you to click on a link to protect your account

What can you do to protect yourself from a bank scam?

When in doubt, always hang up the phone or ignore the message. If the person on the phone is pressuring you or asking too many questions, end the call right away.

Call your bank directly using the phone number listed on the back of your bank card. Explain the situation and ask if there’s anything you need to do to protect your account.

Other important things to keep in mind:

  • Block suspicious phone numbers right away. Scammers could still find other ways to contact you, but blocking them makes that harder.
  • Your bank knows your first and last name. If you receive a message that starts with ‘Dear Sir/ Madam’, you should be suspicious.
  • Your bank will never ask for your PIN or password to ‘confirm your identity’. At most, they will ask for your birthday or some other basic information. Anything more than that should be a red flag.   

Paying credit card interest? Time to switch to a 0% balance transfer card.

If you can’t afford to clear your credit card balance at the moment and are paying monthly interest, then check to see if you can shift that debt to a new credit card with a long 0% interest free balance transfer period. It could save you money.

By transferring the balance of any existing card (or cards) to a new 0% card, you could be debt-free more quickly – since your repayments will go entirely towards clearing the balance of the debt you owe, and not on interest charges.

Discover our top-rated picks for 0% balance transfer credit cards here and check your eligibility before you apply in just a few minutes – it’s free and won’t affect your credit score.

Was this article helpful?
YesNo

Some offers on The Motley Fool UK site are from our partners — it’s how we make money and keep this site going. But does that impact our ratings? Nope. Our commitment is to you. If a product isn’t any good, our rating will reflect that, or we won’t list it at all. Also, while we aim to feature the best products available, we do not review every product on the market. Learn more here. The statements above are The Motley Fool’s alone and have not been provided or endorsed by bank advertisers. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Barclays, Hargreaves Lansdown, HSBC Holdings, Lloyds Banking Group, Mastercard, and Tesco.