If you were called by the police and told that your current account had been targeted by fraudsters you would naturally take it seriously. But when this happened to a reader it proved to be a scam.
A reader who wished to remain anonymous told us: I got a phone call from a man purporting to be from the police at Paddington Green Station in London to warn me my current account was one of many being targeted by fraudsters.
The man advised me to phone my bank immediately.
They said I should put the money in a ‘holding account’
In great alarm, I put the phone down and dialled the bank’s number to speak to a member of its fraud team. They advised me to transfer funds into a ‘holding account’ as a means of catching the fraudster red-handed. I went to the branch that morning and transferred £4,450.
I later realised I’d been had. The trick is supposedly that when I agreed to phone the bank, the fraudster posing as a policeman stayed on the line until I had dialled, thus blocking my call.
Then, a colleague of his spoke as if he was from the bank. The sequence of events convinced me that the whole thing was legitimate.
This is a sophisticated scam
We say: This is certainly a sophisticated scam. It’s easy to let down your guard when you’ve made an outbound call yourself.
A similar variant of this operation involves scammers sending a courier to collect credit cards which have supposedly been compromised.
Banks will never use ‘holding accounts’ or credit card couriers as a means of catching fraudsters. You were right to alert your bank’s real fraud department, albeit after you transferred the funds.
Unfortunately there’s no guarantee that it will be able to get your money back.
What your bank will never ask
The banks last year launched a campaign and leaflet called ‘Know Fraud, No Fraud’. The leaflet set out eight things a bank would never say or do that are typical of the methods used by scammers. Your bank would never:
- Ask for your full PIN number or any online banking passwords over the phone or via email.
- Send someone to your home to collect cash, bank cards or anything else.
- Ask you to email or text personal or banking information.
- Send an email with a link to a page which asks you to enter your online banking log-in details.
- Ask you to authorise the transfer of funds to a new account or hand over cash.
- Call to advise you to buy diamonds, land or other commodities.
- Ask you to carry out a test transaction online.
- Provide banking services through any mobile apps other than the bank’s official apps.
And there are other steps you can take to protect your bank account against fraud.
Have you been targeted by a scam such as this or a similar one? Do you have any tips on how to spot a possible bank scam?