Protect your money

Learn to better protect yourself

It only takes a convincing phone call, clever letter or persuasive sales patter to let fraudsters get hold of your cash. Our guide will help alert you to their tricks.

Why you need to stay alert

It could be a slick phone call, official-looking letter, convincing email or authoritative text…

Fraudsters try to appear as legitimate as possible, so it’s important to be vigilant and stay alert to anything suspicious. Get up to speed with the types of frauds listed below, and you’ll be better prepared if you find yourself a target.

Please contact us straightaway if someone has taken money from your Barclays account, or if you’ve accidentally given your details to a fraudster.

Types of fraud to watch out for

These are among the most common tricks currently used by fraudsters but they constantly come up with new ways to contact you, so be vigilant

  • Online shopping fraud Online shopping fraud

    Fraudsters will advertise goods or services that don’t exist or aren’t theirs to sell – or they’ll try to mimic existing websites in order to appear genuine. Always be vigilant when you shop online. Taking just one precaution alone isn’t guaranteed to keep fraudsters away, so it’s best to take a broad approach and follow as many of our tips as you can.

    How it could happen to you

    • An email, text or social post pops up touting a special offer or deal you like the look of, and you click on the link.
    • The webpage you land on looks authentic and appears to belong to a well-known brand or high-street chain you like, or seems genuine enough to belong to a new company you’re comfortable enough to try out for the first time.
    • Enticed by the offer, you type in your bank details and agree to pay what’s asked.
    • Your item or goods never arrive, a follow-up phone call is never answered and you can’t get hold of anyone at the firm. You’ve lost your money.

    Stop, think and act

    Be cautious with links
    Never follow a link in an unexpected email, text or social media post. If you’re using a desktop or laptop, hover your mouse over the link to see if it is a genuine address. Carefully check the spelling in the URL to make sure it’s legitimate e.g. barcleys-bank.co.uk is incorrect – the real URL is barclays.co.uk. Even with major high-street brands, be sure to look carefully. Fake web pages can look like genuine sites, with clever twists such as .shop or .service inserted to make it look real. Where possible, go ‘the long way around’ to a website via a search engine rather than click a link.

    Do extra research on companies when you’re buying for the first time
    Check out the seller to be confident they’re genuine. Try a number of different product or service review websites to gauge opinion on their quality, and avoid those with poor ratings. Look for a phone number, address and social media account, and see if it publishes a returns policy. Be suspicious of poor grammar or spelling, or if you can’t find a single review of the company or its goods – most will have some sort of internet presence. Insist on viewing high-value items, such as cars or motorbikes advertised on online auction sites, before paying.

    Put in payment details with great care
    Use a computer, laptop or smartphone that’s protected with up-to-date security software. Always use secure ways to pay such as your credit card or PayPal, and only enter your card details on secure sites. The web address should begin with ‘https://’. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’. However, this only indicates that the link between you and the website owner is secure, and not that the site itself is authentic. Check the address for any subtle misspellings, additional words and characters, and other irregularities.
    Don’t pay via a funds transfer from your bank account, and especially not to someone or a company you’ve never met or heard of.
    Always log out after shopping and save the confirmation email as a record of your purchase. As a rule, don’t type in your card details on shared or public computers e.g. in a library.

    Use extra security when prompted
    As soon as you receive a Barclays Visa debit card, you’re automatically registered for Verified by Visa. We’ll occasionally ask you for some extra security info to verify your purchases when you check out online. This’ll protect your card from unauthorised use.

  • ‘Remote access’ fraud ‘Remote access’ fraud

    A persuasive phone caller takes remote control of your computer after claiming they’ve spotted a problem with it. They convince you to stay on the line while they ‘try to fix the situation’. Instead, they trick you into revealing financial details and steal money from you. It’s also known as ‘computer takeover’ fraud.

    How it could happen to you

    • You receive a phone call out of the blue – the caller claims to be from a technical support service provider, a large telecommunications firm or computer company
    • They tell you that your computer is experiencing technical problems or your broadband is unusually slow, or there’s a risk of being hit by a rogue computer virus.
    • To fix it, they insist it’s very important to get remote access to your computer immediately. The caller will be very persistent and persuasive.
    • Often they’ll warn that if you delay, you risk causing damage to your hardware or face a financial blow
    • After convincing you to stay on the line, you’ll be told you need to buy software or sign up to a service to fix the problem.
    • They then ask for your personal details and your bank or credit card details.

    Stop, think and act

    If you get a call like this, hang up immediately. No genuine company will call you out of the blue, requesting remote access to your computer.
    Never give your personal or payment details, or online account information, over the phone – unless you made the call or the phone number came from a trusted source.
    Make sure your computer is protected with updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a robust firewall. Always do your research first and only buy software from a source that you know and trust.

  • ‘Email hack’ fraud ‘Email hack’ fraud

    An email appears to arrive from a firm you’ve hired – a solicitor, conveyancer, builder or supplier, say – and tells you about a change to its own bank account details.

    However, the fraudster has intercepted or ‘hacked’ your email trail and created a bogus message. When you come to pay, your money goes into the fraudster’s account instead. It’s also known as ‘invoice fraud’.

    How it could happen to you

    • You receive what looks like a genuine email from a firm you’re currently dealing with – for example, your solicitor or conveyancer if you’re buying a home, or a known supply firm or repair company if you’re a small business.
    • It alerts you to a change to its own bank account details. It will explain that there’s been a small update to its financial details so when you pay for its services, be sure to pay into the ‘new account’.
    • The email is not a complete surprise since you’re a customer about to pay for goods or services, so its message won’t seem unusual or out of character.
    • When you pay into the new account, your cash is actually sent to the fraudster’s account – from where it’s usually quickly moved on, making it difficult to get back.
    • You only realise the fraud when the firm you thought you had paid calls you to ask where the money is.

    Stop and think

    If any firm or service company you’re using tells you it’s changing its bank details for payments, always confirm it directly with a member of staff. You can do this by telephone using their normal number or by visiting them in person if it’s possible. Fraudsters can often intercept email exchanges and alter them to appear genuine, so don’t use the contact details you see in such an email – double-check on the company’s official website or documents.

    If you’re paying a firm for the first time, you can first transfer a small sum – and then confirm with the company, again using known contact details, that it’s arrived.

  • Investment fraud Investment fraud

    ‘It really is a great opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime chance – what do you have to lose?!’ A lot of money is the answer. Fraudsters posing as sales staff get in touch to offer ‘opportunities’ to invest your cash in everything from shares, gold and plots of land, to more exotic offers such as carbon credits or vineyards. The investment is fake, though, and leaves you out of pocket. Sometimes the conmen use publicly available information to impersonate genuine Barclays companies and staff.

    How it could happen to you

    • You receive an unexpected phone call from someone claiming to be a member of a sales team, to talk about an investment opportunity that’s just right for you
    • Very tempting returns are offered – often double-digit in size – and much is made of poor interest rates and low returns available elsewhere
    • They may have found your details from shareholder registers and, in a bid to lower your guard, praise you as somebody who understands risk and who has been selected for this ‘exclusive’ chance.
    • Pressure is put on you, with suggestions the opportunity is only available for a limited time
    • Any concerns you have about downsides are brushed off, or the caller perhaps suggests you can sell your stake if the investment is unsuccessful
    • If you say you’re not interested, they’ll keep on calling back and become adept at talking to you for long periods of time to wear you down

    Stop, think and act

    Any so-called ‘investment opportunity’ you receive out of the blue is likely to be very risky or a fraud. Many conmen do background checks on targets - for example, they may look for those who have recently retired, sold a business or come into a large inheritance – and tailor their pitches to match the profile.

    If – separately - you are considering an investment, do plenty of research before you take the plunge. The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) warning list details firms and individuals that it knows are operating without its authorisation – so you can check if any salespeople you’ve spoken to are genuine or not. The list also provides information about the risks associated with particular investment opportunities.

  • Pension fraud Pension fraud

    You’re promised a unique investment opportunity for your retirement savings or receive an unsolicited offer to help release cash from your pension funds early. Yet both are bogus and can leave you with huge losses.

    The over-55s now have greater access to their pension since Government reforms in April 2015, but this has also encouraged huge attention from fraudsters so there is an extra need to be vigilant.

    How it could happen to you

    • You receive an unexpected email, text, social message or phone call about your pension.
    • It usually offers a free pension ‘review’ to explore all your investment options or suggests a new way to boost the returns on your retirement savings.
    • In many cases, the offer is exotic or promises huge returns – for example, a 10% return every year if you invest in overseas hotels and green energy schemes.
    • You agree to transfer the cash but the benefits never appear. The bogus adviser either disappears with your money or puts it into a high-risk scheme that loses your money.
    • Alternatively, promises of early access to your pension cash leave you with a cash sum but then land you with a huge tax bill and other charges.

    Stop, think and act

    Ignore offers of a ‘free pension review’ and don’t listen to calls out of the blue to discuss your pension, simply hang up.

    If you ever want or need to change your pension plans, always do your own research first and consider impartial guidance. Look at talking to a number of independent financial advisers, and make sure they’re registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. Never ever be rushed into any type of agreement to transfer your pension, or part of it, into a new or separate scheme.

    Anything or anyone claiming you can cash in your pension before the age of 55 is likely to be a scam, and early pension release may cost you most of the money in your pension fund.


  • The ‘money mule’ fraud The ‘money mule’ fraud

    You’re persuaded to let an individual or firm temporarily place a large sum of cash in your bank account – for a ‘reward’ fee. However, as a ‘money mule’ or ‘money transfer agent’, you’ll be complicit in financial crime even if you didn’t know what you were doing.

    How it could happen to you

    • You may be tempted by job offers to make ‘easy money’ on job-search and social media websites, or via email or text.
    • Whatever the job, it will – crucially – also involve you being offered a payment in exchange for receiving money temporarily into your bank account.
    • You could then be asked to withdraw this cash to hand over to somebody in person, or transfer it on – usually overseas.
    • However, allowing your bank account to be used in this way makes you a money mule and could land you with a criminal record – and the consequences of being caught are serious. Your bank account can be closed and you’ll have problems opening a new account elsewhere, as well as difficulties obtaining credit in the future such as a student loan, phone contract or mortgage.

    Stop, think and act

    Don’t allow your bank account to be used to move money for others. Remember, handling money that’s been obtained fraudulently is a crime – even if you don’t know where the money came from. Be especially wary of unsolicited offers of easy money. Research any company offering such job opportunities and make sure their contact details are genuine. Try to stick to reputable job ad websites used and recommended by your peers, and be especially cautious of job offers from overseas as it will be harder for you to find out if they are legitimate.

Our quick tips to get you started

’Safe account’ scam

A genuine bank or the police would never ask you to transfer money to a ‘safe account’ – ignore anyone who asks you to do this, whether it’s by phone, email or any other method.

Protect your PIN

Never give out your PINsentry codes1, Mobile PINsentry codes, passcodes or Online Banking passwords1 and other full passwords to anyone.

Take care of cards

Shopping or out for a night? Never let your card out of sight. Regularly check your card’s expiry date and call us if a new card hasn’t arrived on time.

Strong passwords

Mix numbers, letters and other symbols. Try a memorable phrase eg ‘I started Baker Secondary School in 2000!’ and use each word’s initial letter i.e. IsBSSi2000!

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How to report fraud

Think you’ve been a victim?

Get in touch with us right away if you think you’ve seen suspicious activity on your account. Here you’ll find the numbers you need, the next steps to take and what we’ll do to help.?

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Digitally safe quiz

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Would you recognise a fake caller, spot a phishing email or know when a fraudster is trying to take control of your computer? Take our interactive challenge to find out.