/ Money, Technology

Companies must do more to safeguard us from scams

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With online scams becoming ever more sophisticated and one case being reported every minute, are businesses doing enough to safeguard us from scams?

I wasn’t born with an iPhone in my hand, but I suppose I would be classed as a ‘Millennial’. I now bank online; I communicate mainly through email and text message; and nearly all my purchases are made online. But this isn’t just the ‘Millennial’ way. We’re all increasingly moving in this direction.

And it’s great – I can sit back, cup of tea in hand and pay my monthly bills. Or even make that last-minute purchase as I dash to work at the tap of an app. Buy with one click, payment details saved, delivered to my door in 24 hours. It’s easy, quick and fits in around my life.

But the online romance has hit a major bump in the road.

Scam attempt every six seconds

Our latest research, in a representative survey of the UK population, found that six in ten people say they’ve been targeted by an online scam in the last year. In fact, it’s estimated that a scam is attempted every six seconds. By the time you’ve finished reading this post, approximately 33 scams will have been attempted.

The most common scams include phishing emails purporting to be from their banks, phishing messages seeking money for services and bogus computer support.

John was hit by a banking scam:

‘I noticed a £1,800 transaction on my bank account and immediately reported it. The bank’s fraud team sent me two texts confirming my money had been refunded and a new debit card was on its way. I then received another text from the same number saying I needed to call the fraud team about more activity on my account. I called and spoke to a very professional sounding person. I was even asked the same security questions my bank had asked a few days earlier.’

£53,000 was then taken from John’s bank account. And although we’re pleased to say that John eventually got his money back, it’s a chilling example of just how clever and believable scams can be.

Safeguard us from scams

Although I was confident, I now worry that I’ve been naïve to trust companies to properly secure their services and protect me from online fraud. I’m not the only one – half of the people in our survey said they don’t use certain online products, services or apps for fear of being targeted by scammers.

In response, the government has established a Joint Fraud Taskforce to look at tackling financial fraud. But we think it can go further.

We’ve today launched our ‘Safeguard us from Scams’ campaign, where we’re calling on the government to investigate how seriously companies take their responsibility to protect customers from scams.

We all hear about the risks. Maybe we know someone who’s fallen victim or someone else who got lucky and smelled a rat just in time. We can and often do take sensible steps to protect ourselves – but when even the savviest of people can be scammed, it’s important that the government and businesses take their responsibilities seriously too. It’s time for them to step up and safeguard us all from scams.​

Our scams roadshow is taking our campaign around the country. Visit one of our locations to share your stories of fraud and get free advice on how to safeguard yourself from scams.


I think we should be careful what we wish for. Certainly cases in the news suggest banks could do more to check the bona fides of destination accounts. However nowadays when opening an account we have to jump through all sorts of hoops to prove we are who we say we are yet faudsters still manage to open accounts to operate all their nefarious activities. So will this all just result in making our lives more difficult when we need to send money to a friend or family member?

I didn’t rate the e-mail quiz much. On the information supplied, I would regard all those e-mails as suspicious though some are more dangerous looking than others. If there is a possibility that an organisation I deal with is contacting me, I hover the mouse pointer over the e-mail address and any links. In this way the true e-mail/link is revealed next to the mouse pointer or in the bottom left corner of the screen.

l often find that scam e-mails contain links including “tinyurl” in the address. Why is it so favoured by scammers? Should the industry / police be doing more to shut this down?

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It’s getting to the point you don’t know who you can trust. In life I have three people I only trust in the world and that’s my wife, and my two sons.
At this moment in time I have bought something from the states, it’s my first time and it will be my last time the item was costing me approx. $80 dollars. Time was going on I still haven’t got it as yet, this is now three weeks now but as I was saying $80 I check my bank the other day and I found different types of taxes border fees, boundary fees, and because thier are batteries with it and it was all ordered at the same time I have two lots of taxes because the company has decided it up to two packages so theirs about another $15 dollars been added to the items so I think it’s a Scam for more money, if at all it should have informed people that it would cost more than the price with all these taxes and boundaries fees.

It’s not just the fault of banks – businesses need to establish and encourage better practice too.
We rented a house for three years, during which time the – otherwise very professional – estate agent twice emailed us a generic message (unsigned, not addressed to us by name) asking us to change the standing-order by which we paid our rent, to go into their new account!
When I told them there was no way I’d respond to so vague and vulnerable a request they simply didn’t understand what the problem was!
Perhaps a code-of-conduct for businesses that could be used to encourage the public only to make payments when asked in a suitably “formal” and verifiable way might help.

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If you are unaware that your mobile phone and bank cards have been stole, what is the point of your bank ringing your mobile to check on unusual transactions? Are the fraudsters going to refuse to authorise their recent purchases using your bank card by texting “No” ?.Needless to say, my bank have not replied to this inept way of dealing with stolen bank cards.

stuart.redfearn says:
12 October 2016

Whilst I agree that banks need to do a lot more, people do as well. I can’t believe how easily people are fooled and give such private and confidential information away. “If in doubt stay out!!!”

I’m pretty aware when it comes to fraud but these scammers are very clever. I have been had twice but no more, I question every email I get , the bank is aware of my previous misfortunes and do help me more than ever.

I agree with what you say ,I wrongly thought I would never get scammed ,one afternoon I get phone call from talktalk scammer told him not politely what to do,next day wife answers the phone to another call from talktalk she was apologising for my abrupt language yesterday,but she put the phone down while we check our account number the caller had given it was correct,the rest is history £9000 taken from our bank account ,TalkTalk and the Bank just say sorry but you’ve been scammed .

Despite he fact that I hadn’t used my credit card for weeks, it hadn’t left my bag. However someone was trying to pay for hotels and clothes with my valid number. Fortunately they didn’t have the numbers o the back so nobody would accept the card. I was told that someone had probably scanned my bag and got the number, probably in a supermarket queue. I have now bought metal card holders which are supposed to be scan proof. Why should I have to do this at age 70? Unfortunately today’s morals are not those that I grew up with.

The bank contacted the person I transferred the money to, to ask pay me back but they refused, fraud squad didn’t even ask the bank for the other persons home address to question them over the loss of my money, DONT transfer money to buy an item offer to fetch the item in person first, see if they agree or not if its a scam you won’t hear from them. I’m still £420 out of pocket. To J Kelly of coatsbridge.

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eric smythe says:
12 October 2016

The biggest ‘scams’ are perpetrated by the banks themselves, watch what happens with the RBS debacle !

All Banks have acted in a criminal and illegal way for many many years with none of them made accountable or charged with criminal offences .
Fraud in all its forms is just written off by the Banks with you and I paying the cost, the Banks find it easier to write off the millions and millions of pounds taken by criminals year on year than to investigate , prosecute and protect its loyal but vulnerable customers.

It’s not just Banks.
Insurance companies are being as evasive as ever on what you are actually covered for with vaguest schedules and cover for things that will almost certainly not happen in your locality and avoidance definitions like ‘accidental damage’ when a third party causes for example, damage to property.
They force you to make a claim when all you want to find out if you are actually covered for the situation that may have arisen.
This is as much a scam as the banks and others play. And needs to be reigned in.

If you haven’t got a phone with caller ID, get one. If you haven’t got an answerphone, either get one or subscribe to your service provider’s answering service. If you don’t recognise a caller’s number, don’t answer it. If it’s a genuine call they’ll leave a message. If it’s a scammer they probably won’t. Be extremely wary of the following caller IDs….. WITHHELD INTERNATIONAL UNAVAILABLE. Most of these are scams.

Banks used to be a place to keep your money safe and to get sound advice, the last ten years have proved this is no longer the case.

Insurers: put my premium UP when I reached 80yrs old – Saga (supposed to be good for the old!) quoted a sum THREE TIMES HIGHER than my existing policy for hous and contents! They must have known they wouldn’t win so was this a brush-off? Because I’m 91?! As to car policy – Can’t find anything under £1000 p.a.!

Never, ever accept the renewal price from your existing insurer. There are plenty of comparison sites and I have never failed to get a reduced price, even from my original insurer as they frequently reduce their price to match the lowest you have found!

John howell says:
13 October 2016

On asking aged concern as they were then , for travel insurance, being over 80, i was quoted a ridiculas price, the same with another over 50s company, I did get insurance from a company which was 75% less than the other 2

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I ‘failed’ in your ‘can you spot an email scam’. However, I supposedly thought two genuine emails were scams. But one had major punctuation errors and the other addressed as ‘dear customer’ rather than by my name. A bank would know my name, but I suspect it costs more to individualise than to send a general email. It is an example of a bank being more concerned with its convenience and profits than with good practice.
In all my reporting of scams I have never had a response confirming that the scammer has been shut down.
I had one building society which replied that it had not opened my email about a scam because it had an attachment and was therefore dangerous!

Hello Mike, well done on the quiz. You’re right that the wording in some of the genuine emails were not up to scratch. This gave us a chance to advise on what you should look out for (such as using your full name, not just dear customers). After voting on the NatWest email, for example, we said: “Confusingly, this genuine email from the bank addresses its recipient as ‘customer’, rather than using their full name. NatWest told Which? it is planning to update the template that it uses for these emails.”

The Coop scam letter I warned about regarding the new Coop cards is still dong the rounds. Yesterday I rang the Coop HQ to ask them whether they knew about it and after several breaks, during which my Coop contact had to go and check with her manager, they confirmed it was a scam and the links in it should not be followed. I forwarded the original email to the City of London’s Police’s fraud detection unit some weeks ago but obviously heard nothing.