/ 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

P Cleary says:
19 September 2019

Since the major security breach at TalkTalk some years ago I have been plagued by calls purporting to be from the company telling me that my internet is about to be cut off. On one of these calls I asked to speak to a supervisor and was handed over to a very convincing person, very polite, reiterating that indeed the service would be curtailed, but that a short term ‘fix’ was available to ensure that (temporarily) I would not be inconvenienced – the ‘fix’ = remotely accessing my computer, at which point I sussed it was a scam. These scammers are getting more and more sophisticated and I don’t envy police investigators trying to catch them. What can we as individuals do? Can the telephone companies use/develop technology to prevent unknown numbers getting through or at least be subject to receiver approval? Or should all new phones (landlines) have number displays that can be rejected if a number is not recognised (mine do not have this as they are pretty old!)? Or can we have technology that traces every number that calls us so we can report it back to the Cybercrime Unit? How do the scammers get their own numbers and can they be blocked at that end of the process?

P. Cleary-scammers get their block numbers from online companies selling virtual numbers which are the telecommunications future as we will all be going “virtual ” in some years time in the UK.
ISP,s /telephone companies will not block a service we will all be using soon ,nor will they stop the global business community from using the same system.

What you are really talking about is tracing them back — America can do it if enough complaints come in from the same source BUT it costs in $$$$$ and staff — government “resources” are used ,the USA is able to coordinate all their security services to trace them to sources –heavy fines — businesses closed down and long stretches in US jails –NOT something to look forward to !
HMG has stated a while ago they do not have the resources or “manpower ” to do the same as the USA , over the years I have quoted several big US cases where many are jailed , so conclusion—its not going to go away and giving the British public more digital control over exchange equipment programming is never going to happen in the UK ,still too much conservative thinking .

Dave says:
11 October 2019

I am here because I am trying to find somewhere to report telephone numbers when someone calls with an obvious scam. All I am hoping to do is simply register the number, when they called, and what they wanted. Is anybody doing this to make a list of the callers?
I got called by a recorded voice telling me my internet was to be cut off and press “1” to talk to an operator. I have had these calls before and they are clearly a scam. I did not respond of course, but that is not the point. The point ids that they must be successfully scamming somebody or they wouldn’t be doing it.
TPS do not deal with scams and Action Fraud only seem to deal with people who have actually been defrauded. And in any case I find Action Fraud a very cumbersome web site to operate.

[This comment has been edited to remove personal details: please report all scam/nuisance calls to: https://www.which.co.uk/tools/report-a-call-or-text/?utm_source=campaignssite&utm_medium=referal&utm_campaign=nuisance%5D ]

There is Dave and its run directly by the government ,unfortunately its the American Government used by American citizens and I am looking at the website as I type .
Action Fraud (UK ) does not have the resources and money to really do what the average American citizen expects from its government .
When a number of Americans are scammed in the same type of scam the US government departments get down to business and traces them back to their source–via the company that sold them the numbers to use for scamming.
It does not need me to tell you what happens when they are caught , if you think things are bad in UK jails that’s nothing to what can happen to you in a US one (unless you are a millionaire ) , they are severely fined as well, and yes the fines help to pay back the victims ,its time US law was introduced here everything else is.

For those saying –cost the government too much to trace or no “manpower ” etc then again the USA has ANOTHER website for reporting calls that is not an official government website –
Read and weep UK citizens.

I think BT customers can also report such numbers as part of the Call Protect service. If given numbers are in regularly use for scams, I think this then results in them getting blocked.

That said, I think most of these incoming numbers are actually spoofed, so I’m not sure that blocking them does much good.

PS I think “Read and weep UK citizens” is a bit of depressing punchline, especially for a Friday afternoon.

The problem Derek is that UK businesses and those abroad officially use spoofing to transact business , even emails are now officially spoofed , a EU company provides the services for a lot of businesses and its all above board to stop you tracing back their location so that makes telling telephone companies to block spoofing isn’t going to work .
Even BT spoof a lot of their email service to stop you realising it goes back to CP.

Sorry about the “read and weep ” Derek , I am trying to give the authorities a “kick up the backside ” by getting Joe Public to increase their criticism of how things stand in the UK.

So, wouldn’t it be nice if BT (and others) actually did something about blocking all the incoming calls that appear to come from spoofed numbers?

Its taken years for America to admit there is a problem and years more to do something about it Derek but its only this year that a trial is in progress involving digital exchange programming and the outcome is not yet finalised .
Obviously BT is watching this but this country ,as you know, is a lot more conservative in giving/allowing the public either access or help in its exchange programmable equipment.

Duncan, I hope you’re not suggesting that, when it comes to inventions in IT and telecommuncations engineering, Britain is a 3rd world country, doomed to follow in America’s footsteps?

I do wonder if BT is just a complacent, lazy fat cat, quasi monopoly supplier with little inclination to innovate?

Where did you get that impression from Derek ? as my previous posts (above ) have said why does it take America to INTRODUCE innovation for the American public use when BT can give the British public an awful lot more control over exchange equipment programming —but they wont because its the usual British chronic “disease ” tell/inform/help the British public as little as possible .
I think you said you had a connection to our security services ?– if so you will know GCHQ – with BT ,s scientific innovation building,s help have helped the NSA in many instances –for nothing — Israeli intelligence companies charge the UK and America for their snooping innovations .

We are just office extensions off a big switchboard now where the manager can have full control over any or all facilities given to the public.
BT is a private company ,long gone are the old green vans with GPO Telephones on the day of separation I was booted out of the GPO Headquarters canteen and forced to pay parking fines .
If BT spent more time implementing public communications protection as they do helping American government spying agencies we would be at the forefront of innovation not following Americas coattails .

Bill neary says:
31 October 2019

Looking for instant phone numbers to report different scams

Not in the UK Bill -OFCOM- please report scam calls to your ISP and Action Fraud but Action Fraud wont list it unless you were actually defrauded.

It is quite possible, of course, that Action Fraud [silly name, I agree] already know all the scams that have been perpetrated to an actual defraud state, and they need numbers of those instances in order to prioritise resources and identify common features, but just listing possible attempts probably does not add much value to their work and takes up resources. This is frustrating for people who wish to see such attempts stopped in their tracks as they feel nothing is being done. I expect the sheer scale of this problem is simply overwhelming the enforcement authorities and they have had to concentrate their efforts in key areas where they have enough intelligence.