Scam of the week: watch out for the 'bank' scam

Scam collage

In austere times, scams are becoming more and more prevalent and it is not always easy to keep up with the latest cons. One Moneywise reader informed us of a 'bank' scam which they were a victim of.

I was recently scammed over the phone by someone claiming to be from the so-called 'National Fraud Department'.

'John Moore' told me my bank had called him regarding a £1,200 payment made that morning in an Apple store. He told me to phone my bank and ask to be put through to him.

I put the phone down and called my 'bank', using the number he gave me, and spoke to him again. He then told me to hand over my Visa cards to a third party courier, who turned up 20 minutes after the call. I was also told to stay on the line. Because I thought I was dealing with my bank, I followed his instructions.

What happened was surreal, but I fell for it. I even told him my PIN number over the phone. I lost £900 but, fortunately, I was fully refunded by my bank within two days.

Why aren't the banks, or the government, warning the public against fraud with public campaigns using billboards and adverts? Fraud should be made public, just like the health warnings for cigarettes and alcohol.

People should be warned not to give their bank details or PIN over the phone or online.

Scam Watch

Unfortunately, in austere times, scams are becoming more and more prevalent and it is not always easy to keep up with the latest cons.

To help you and other readers stay alert, check out our online Scamwatch at

Your Comments

i constantly receive phone calls from people claiming to be my bank and asking me to identify myself. my response is that when the caller can prove he or she is from my bank then i will identify myself. needless to say the caller can never identify themself. i may be over careful but it works for me.

Regarding the bank scams. I have over the last two to three months received e-mails from the following "banks", HSBC, Nat West, Lloyds, Santander, Northern Rock and today from the Co-op, fortunately I have not responded to them, I have instead blocked sender.
However if you were in a hurry a mistake could easily be made as the e-mails are very plausible.

It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who are caught by scams - banks don't ask for any sensitive information over the phone or by e-mail. You should only contact your bank through the published number not one which someone gives you over the phone when they have rung you.
I leave my phone on 'answer' all the time, if it's important they'll leave a message or if I know who's ringing I'll answer it.
If you get an e-mail supposedly from your bank run the cursor over the link they give you to contact them and that will tell you if it's the bank or not. If it's slightly different (they can't have exactly the same URL) then it's not your bank. In any case do not reply because a reply just proves to the scammers that it's a legit current address.

I have forwarded numerous e-mails to my bank (Halifax) that I did not trust but have never had a reply as to whether they were scams or not. Is this normal?

I have received similar messages from several banks, the one I use and others I have never had contact with.  I have been advised to report these back to the bank concerned; many banks have a dedicated e-mail address for this - typically scams@xxxxxx or spoofs@xxxxxxx.  I also had one purporting to come from paypal (the e-mail address included the letters "paypal(l)", but other wise looked authentic.
As a previous correspondent mentions - the banks (or Paypal) will never ask you for passwords or pin nos by e-mail or telephone no or, indeed, at all.

People still take alcohol and cigarettes,so billboard warnings would not help.

These people who phone you with a scam and give a phone number, usually the correct number for the bank, do not hang up after they have finished (the line remains open until they replace their phone) so when you ring the true number all the scammer does is listen for the clicks (possibly they have a recording of the dialling tone as well to confuse you) and answer as if he is the bank. The best trick is to put your phone down and wait an hour or so, no scammer is going to chance that you will eventually ring, they expect an instant reply. At least is what I have been told.

I am really surprised that this man got his money back - there are warnings all over the media telling us not to give our details over the phone - even the banks send warning emails not to reply to requests for bank details.  As for giving the card to a complete stranger it beggars belief. Banks are trying to get out of refunding those who have lost money through no fault of their own.  To say you don't know this is happening means you are either asleep or not paying attention

Not true, the line doesn't remain open. Source? brother is a BT engineer

I've forwarded these to the Halifax and always get a response that they are scams

Good comment, policeturner.
I had always been told, if someone claiming to be from your bank  'phones you on your landline, 'phone your bank back on your mobile using the 'phone number in the telephone directory: and vice versa.
Seems a good idea to me!

I would say that banks often do ask sensitive information. Maybe not such as to give access to your account with them, but still details which would be useful to a scammer maybe for some other access .
I don't so mind being asked these details when I call them, but why on earth when they call me?! It seems the presumption is that a hoax caller might contact them but never someone pretending to be my bank could be calling me!
If the bank expect me to provide ID when calling them why shouldn't I require ID from the bank when the situation is reversed?
The banks are in the business 24 hours and I am just dealing with banking matters maybe once a week. They and their 'intellitgence' will know the modus operandii of these scammers and likely have some idea of the identities and locations.
I think it is time they recognise that it is more likely that they will be impersonated than I!