Fraudsters stole £753.9 million in the first half of this year, up 30% from the same period a year earlier.
There was a boom in push payment fraud – up 71% to £355.3 million. This is where we’re tricked into willingly transferring money to criminals. This kind of fraud has now overtaken card fraud for the first time.
Within ‘push payment’ fraud numbers, the number involving criminals pretending to be your bank or the police is up 129% from a year earlier.
Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown: “We’re being bombarded by increasingly sophisticated scams. As banks have got super-smart about fraud, criminals know that customers are now the weakest link in the chain, so they’re focusing all their attention on tricking us into parting with our money. They prey on our fear of being ripped off, trust in the police and banks, and our natural instinct to believe someone who sounds convincing.
So-called ‘push-payment’ scams often start with fraudsters getting in touch out of the blue, either through email, a phone call or a text message. They use a variety of techniques to persuade us to transfer money to them. It sounds like the sort of thing we wouldn’t fall for, and when you put it like this, our research shows that only 6% of people don’t recognise that this could be a scam. However, these criminals use incredibly convincing and sophisticated approaches, so we all need to be aware of the risk.
The biggest rise in this kind of fraud is impersonation scams, when they often call claiming to be from your bank or from the police. Cases of this kind are up 129% from a year earlier. They might tell you that you have been a victim of attempted fraud. In order to protect yourself, they say you need to move your money into a new account, which turns out to be the fraudster’s account, and your money is gone.
The fraudsters will make their approaches seem even more realistic by ‘spoofing’ your bank’s number so it looks like a call is coming from the official number, and by setting up convincing-looking fake websites to steal your details so they can tailor the phone call to make you really believe it’s your bank.
The fact that fraudsters have stepped up their efforts means we all need to be aware of the risks of this kind of fraud. The very first step if you are called out of the blue by anyone at all – including your bank or the police – is to put the phone down and then call back on a number you already have for them to check it’s real. Before dialling, make sure the line has gone dead, because one trick the criminals use is to hang on the line, so you haven’t actually been disconnected.
If you are ever asked for any details on the phone, by email or text, or you click through from an email to a website asking for them, then this should be a huge red flag. And don’t be embarrassed to cut people off, or to refuse or completely ignore requests. You can’t be too rude to a scammer.”