/ Money

Update: Do you support our super-complaint on scams?

Bank transfer scams

Imagine this: You’ve had some building work done on your house and you’re arranging to pay the builder. Then you receive an email from your builder informing you that their bank account details have changed…

You transfer the money to them.

Later on, you find out the email was from a fraudster.

They had made their email virtually identical to the ones that you’d received from the builders before. You’ve been scammed – and you’ve got no right to get your money back from your bank.

Bank transfer scams super-complaint

Which? is using its legal powers to make a super-complaint to one of the financial regulators – the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR). We think banks need to do more to protect customers who are tricked into transferring money to a fraudster.

Some people might well think ‘that’ll never happen to me!’ They might say that people who are scammed should simply get better at protecting themselves.

But it’s an issue that comes up time and time again, with some people getting conned out of their life savings.

You only have to read the harrowing real life stories in our super-complaint to realise that these scams are often so sophisticated that it’s impossible for people to be savvy enough to completely protect themselves. And the people being scammed are not only the stereotypical vulnerable groups; they are often financially and technologically literate.

When we asked over 1,000 members of the public if they could spot the difference between real and spoof emails, we found that 50% of people were fooled by these sophisticated scams. Ultimately, people can only protect themselves so far, and with scams on the rise, we all need greater protection.

So what do we want?

Which? thinks banks should shoulder more responsibility for money lost to bank transfer scams. It’s unfair that customers who lose money due to scams via direct debit or credit and debit cards are reimbursed, for example, but not bank transfers. This would give banks an incentive to develop better mechanisms to prevent the fraud in the first place.


Update: 12 October

Alex Neill, our Director of Home and Legal Services, appeared on Rip Off Britain this morning (12 October) to talk about what action is needed to protect us all from scams.

After hearing the tragic tale of a scam victim who was tricked into transferring £77,000 to scammers posing as solicitors, Alex explained how banks can and must go beyond just protecting themselves from paying out against scams.

Banks already protect their customers for credit and debit card fraud, but there’s clearly need for them to improve their security processes to protect their customers from bank transfer scams.

That’s why we’ve made our super-complaint to the Payment Systems Regulator [PSR] . If you were tricked into transferring money from your account to a scammers’ account then you have no legal right to get you money back from your bank.

The PSR now has 70 days remaining to respond to our super-complaint.

Clearly, this is a complex issue. This is why we need financial regulators – not just the PSR but also the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – to work together and address our concerns.

What would you like to see the regulators do to help prevent fraud?

Silverlark says:
19 May 2019

I am fed up with the number of telephone calls which purport to be from BT and others saying I will have my internet etc cut off or have problems with my broad band which require me to either press one or some other instruction. Various calls on different themes but I am concerned my not so savvy husband might panic and do whatever is instructed when I am out. This means there are others out there with NO one to help them decide what is fake etc. I am so cagey I may miss a genuine caller! (I did with my bank once but had the sense to ring their fraud department to find it was genuine).

Amongst these calls we get loads of so called government marketing calls. I have no idea if they are genuine but assume the worst.

All calls or emails are intrusive. They take our time to decide what is ok and what isn’t. For the elderly or not so savvy they are a potential nightmare.

Hi Silverlark,

If you are being troubled by too many cold calls, and if you have not already done so, then you might want to consider:

If you’re with BT, signing up for BT Call Protect:


(Other companies may offer similar services.)

Or even buying a “truecall” call blocking phone

I’ve not tried the latter myself, but I think it has been reviewed by Which? and received a favourable review.

[This comment has been edited to remove broken links.]

John Hocking says:
20 May 2019

We are all fed up with the government’s failure to get a grip on these crooks, many from overseas, apparently, who pretend to be officials from BT, Microsoft, computer service companies or even the Police.
There appear to be insufficient deterrents, and the Police and probation service seems incapacitated by insufficient resources.

Brian says:
24 May 2019

The latest scam is someone purporting to be Talk talk offering a refund as my account is in credit.
I did have an account with talk talk over 4 years ago. The email said click the button to set the refund in motion. I of course did not. Various calls of over time are very similar to that of BT and others telling us that our computer is faulty and they can fix it. Do not respond to any of these crooks,

Patricia says:
18 June 2019

I am also sick of calls purporting to be from BT and that my internet is going to be discontinued, So I say “Well that’s funny because I haven’t got the internet” and they soon end the call.

David Whiting says:
11 July 2019

I waste so much time having to double read every email sent to me

I have reported most and had confirmed that they were scams – but it leaves you with a bad taste – what and who can you really trust?

I MUST ADMIT my first thought was WHICH breeched – that is how we are now as a society – WHO CAN WE TRUST

Its talked about a lot, and the police have specialist units that do their best – but the other side seems to be winning – looking at how many people get caught out – I have had several emails recently saying i have been hacked on ofical noteheads

How and When the Government (who can’t even agree on BREXIT) Will ever get around and take ownership of the Root Cause (CRIME) will be a major uphill battle – I will support Which in any way I can to create a fairer society