/ Scams

Scam alert: fake Barclays ‘unusual payee request’ text

We’ve been made aware of a scam text message targeting Barclays customers by directing them to a fake website. Here’s what you need to look out for.

Fake text messages posing as banks are nothing new – last year we saw a huge rise in the number of people reporting that they’ve received one purporting to be from Halifax.

But this one using Barclays to target victims features another twist to be wary of: it’s managed to successfully drop into people’s inboxes with the sender set as the bank itself:

These types of ‘smishing’ attempts work by rushing people into visiting a fake website, which can go on to request and steal sensitive information, such as bank details. In this case, its victims will alarmed to read that an ‘unusual payee request’ has been ‘flagged’ on their account.

Fortunately some web browsers, such as Chrome in the below example, will warn you that the site is illegitimate:

However, there’s no guarantee that everyone will receive a similar warning, and some may believe these convincing phishing sites to be genuine.

Spotting and reporting smishing scams

After reporting the fake text to the National Cyber Security Centre (report@phishing.gov.uk), we made Barclays aware of the text. It told us:

“We work closely with the telecommunications industry to support them on preventative measures. We have been, and continue to be, part of an ongoing industry-wide trial to combat ‘smishing’ activity.

The SMS SenderID Protection Registry allows businesses using SMS to register and protect the message headers used when sending text messages to their customers. Over the last two years, the working group has seen a significant drop in fraudulent messages being sent to UK consumers of participating merchants.

We urge customers to pay close attention to the warnings we provide when making payments as these are designed to help protect them against fraud and scams”

Barclays also said that it will never send a text and ask you to click on a link.

If you think you may have handed over your card details to scammers, you should let your bank know what’s happened immediately.

Guide: How to get your money back after a scam

If you’re not sure if contact from a bank is genuine, get in touch with it directly via its official channels to verify the correspondence before you take any action.

Have you received this fake Barclays text or others purporting to be from different banks? Let us know in the comments, and help spread the word to warn friends and family.


I recently phoned Barclays’ fraud team after my large payment to a new payee was flagged for review. I was extremely impressed by how sophisticated Barclays’ anti-fraud systems are, and by some of the security questions they asked. And I say this as someone who works in banking myself (not for Barclays).

I shop for my parents and my dad reimburses me by phoning Barclays and transferring the money from his account to mine.

Recently Barclays would only transfer £200 of over £300 that was requested. My dad said he got a bit confused and was really annoyed that he would have to phone again to transfer the rest.

I managed to persuade him this was actually a good thing and Barclays Bank was only safeguarding his interests and his bank account.

So although this might seem like an inconvenience, well done Barclays.

David says:
11 February 2021

Had one from Lloyds this morning. I don’t bank with them.

yeah I got one from halifax and I don’t bank with Halifax.

I have also had a couple of texts from Lloyds recently telling me a new payee had been set up and a link attached. I also don’t bank with Lloyds so the texts were ignored and deleted. Normally a text similar to this will come up as soon as you set up a new payee which usually gives the last four digits of the account number and a telephone number of the bank to use if you didn’t set up the payee, not a link to click on. The other thing the fake Lloyds text has is it is shown as sent from a mobile number. The genuine ones from my bank just have the banks name as the sender.
M. Hustwith

David says:
12 February 2021

My wife has received two texts purporting to come from HSBC inviting her to click a link in connection with her ‘statements’. Both deleted of course

I received my first scam text last month:


I’m not an HSBC customer. A similar example of a scam message can be found on the HSBC website.

C M hourieh says:
13 February 2021

I received two texts supposedly from HSBC this week asking me to accept or decline a new payee

Philip Jordan says:
13 February 2021

Me too. I visited my bank to make sure that the payee was blocked and it
seems to be ok 2 weeks on!

Can I suggest forwarding all such emails to report@phishing.gov.uk, where they will be investigated? And then delete the scam email.

Lenore says:
13 February 2021

I got one from Lloyds, who I do not bank with, 2 days ago and the next day one from EE. Both were deleted.

Rhian Owen says:
13 February 2021

I’ve had three, supposedly from Lloyds, telling me that a new payee has been set up on my account and asking me to click on a link. I’ve simply deleted them but I’ll report any new ones I receive in future.

Judith says:
13 February 2021

I coincidentally, recently lost my Barclaycard. I phoned Barclays to stop the card which they did and have since received a new one. However a couple of days ago we received a recorded message on landline re £600 spent on my card . I momentarily wondered if the card had been stopped but the fact that it was one of those messages ie saying press 1 or 2 and it was an automated message, I definitely hung up and didn’t take this call any further. I reported the number on “Who Called Me” (it was 02089955100).

George A says:
13 February 2021

I received a text purporting to be from Lloyds, advising that a new payee has been authorised on 03/02/21. I got the usual website link to visit to confirm or refute this. Not being with Lloyds, I ignored it.

Wendy says:
13 February 2021

I have received texts from Lloyds regarding a new payee and Halifax re registering a new device with links.

If in doubt, delete and don’t worry about it.

I had money taken from my Lloyds current account and while I was talking to the bank on my mobile, the fraudster also rang the bank, from the same mobile number. They had somehow cloned my sim and accessed my account, and were trying to get more. Lloyds were great sorting it out, but long waits (1-2 hours) to get through by phone are not good. The call also cost me about £17 – just to rub salt, etc!

Clive Robinson says:
13 February 2021

I got one from Lloyds who I don’t bank with. Deleted immediately

I have received two messages this week from HSBC to accept or decline a new payee. I have no connection to HSBC. I blocked the number and deleted

Victor Blackmore says:
13 February 2021

Email Scams that pretend to be from McAfee and Norton security companies appear to be rampant.
Direct straight to bin.

We had a phone call from Sky Broadband saying there was illegal activity on the line and we would be cut off within 24 hours. I reported it to Sky. The phone number was an Indian one. Sky were very helpful, took all details and offered us there free of charge phone blocking service.

Glenys says:
13 February 2021

I recently had one from HSBC saying a new payee has made a request on my account. Clearly a scam as I do not bank with HSBC. This was a text with their number on the top.

Of course the obvious clue that the Barclays one is fake, is the stop between the r and c of barclays in the link.
AND if people follow the well-worn advice NEVER to click on links in this type of message they would not be taken-in or need to relay upon their browser to protect them.

Ronald SergisonI says:
13 February 2021

I have had two messages ” from Halifax” in recent months.

I receive phone calls that a large payment is about to be made on my credit card. “press 1 to confirm, press to speak to an operator”. Needless to say I don’t do either. Has anyone ever spoken to an ‘operator’ and what do they say?

Talking to an “operator” could cost as some have reported that they are premium lines. It would be nice to know if this is the case, as there is the temptation is to tell them to go forth and multiply.

Usually these “operators” are scammers working out of call centres that are often located in India.

On YouTube, Jim Browning has a channel where he investigates and fights back against these scammers.

In the UK, I have never seen any hard evidence that you can incur premium call charges by pressing 1.

But pressing 1 will confirm to the scammers that they have called an active line with a potential victim answering it. So they may then direct more calls your way.

If you are still inclined to press 1, then welcome to the club.

If you Google “scam baiting” you can learn more about how to annoy these scammers.

But please do remember you will be messing with organised criminals, which is not necessarily a risk free activity.