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Q749: I suspect I have been a victim of fraud. What can I do?


If you have been the victim of a scam, fraud or cyber crime (e.g. hacking, malicious software), you should report this to Action Fraud. Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime. A link to the website can be found in Related Information. 
For more information on the law relating to fraud, please see Q680: What is the law relating to fraud?


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Scammers will contact you and may pretend to be from your bank, HMRC or the police, they may do this over the phone, email, text message or social media apps. They warn you that there has been suspicious or criminal activity with your bank account, and then explain they have set up an account (a safe account) that you can transfer your money to. This will always be their account, and even if they say it’s in your name you will not be able to access it.

Protect yourself:

  • Always be suspicious of a cold caller claiming to be from your bank or a position of authority.
  • Someone who is genuinely from a trusted authority or an official from your bank will never ask you to confirm your details.
  • Make sure you get the callers details and then check the details independently.
  • Banks do not set up safe accounts for people to transfer money to.
  • Never transfer money to someone unless you are 100% sure.

If you think you have been the victim of a scam such as this, we recommend that you contact your bank as soon as possible. You should also report it to Action Fraud. See Is this a scam? for details on the different types of scams and the related information for guidance on how to protect yourself from scammers.


With the increase in online banking and the introduction of contactless payments, criminals are finding new ways to scam people out of their money. There are a few common scams relating to banking.
Cash Machines
Cash machines are good targets for criminals as they can fit devices to cash machines that may trap the bank card or copy the card details and record the PIN. They may also try to distract you by making conversation, allowing an accomplice to then take your card and cash. Another tactic is to ask if something on the floor is yours, distracting you in allowing them to get your money and/ or card.
Ways to protect yourself against it are to make sure you are:
  • Be wary of anyone approaching when you are at a cash machine,
  • Always shield your PIN (Personal Identification Number), the best way is to stand close to the cash machine and cover the keypad with your purse/ wallet or spare hand,
  • If your card is ever retained by the machine do not leave the cash machine. Report it immediately by calling your card issuers number.
Cards and Contactless Payment
This method of payment has become increasingly popular and there are many myths around this use of payment.
One that is common is that people can come along with a card payment machine whilst the card is in your bag and take the information on your card to then commit fraud. This is not true because whilst a card reader that is contactless-enabled can read a card from 10cm away the information it receives is what is stored on the front of the card. Which is never enough to clone a card as it is incomplete for the information needed. As the card reader needs to be very close to the card this also makes it impossible for the details to be intercepted when in use, something that is also a common myth.
There are a few tips you can follow to reassure yourself that no one has used your card through contactless payment:
  • Always go through your bank statements and check which are contactless, to make sure you recognise them all,
  • Don’t let anyone take your card out of sight for payment under any circumstances. They could use this time to copy the information stored in the magnetic strip or the CCV code on the back of the card,
  • If your card or phone, with card payments, enabled on it, are ever stolen inform your bank as soon as possible.   
Online banking
With online banking becoming increasingly popular so are criminals trying to scam people out of their money. Some banks may give one-time passcodes sent to your device so you can make payments, always keep these and any personal details, passwords or memorable information safe. Never share these with anyone even from your bank. If someone asks for these details, they are most certainly a criminal. You can protect yourself by:
  • Making sure any passwords or memorable information are chosen with care, try to make them as random as possible,
  • Always keep any banking apps or software up to date by downloading updates when prompted,
  • Remember to log out of your online banking account or app every time, simply closing the app/ web page or turning off your device may not be enough,
  • If you use any banking apps/ websites in public take care to shield your PIN, passcode or any passwords used,
  • It is difficult to tell if public WI-FI spots are secure so never use them for banking,
  • Never share any security codes, passwords or memorable information that can be sued to access your account with anyone,
  • If your bank ever calls you get a reference code from them, then hang up and call them back using a number you know is safe. Such as one on their website or listed on your banking information. Only call back once the line has been cleared, if you are unsure about this call using a different phone than the one they contacted you on.  
For more information please see the Is this a scam? question.


A 'money mule' is someone who transfers stolen money on behalf of criminals through their own bank account.

Criminals will contact a person, either on the internet (via social media, a fake job advertisement) or in person, and offer to pay them for use of their bank account to receive stolen money and transfer it to another account.

Most of the money being transferred is stolen money and is used to fund further criminal activity such as terrorism and fraud.

Criminals usually target vulnerable people who are in financial difficulties as these people may see being a money mule as an opportunity to make money.

Once a person has transferred the money successfully there is a high chance that the criminals will want to repeat the process and may use intimidation if someone does not comply.

It is a criminal offence to let someone use your bank account for this activity and you could face a prison sentence of up to 14 years if caught. You could also have your account closed and find it difficult to access credit.

If someone asks you to use your bank account, report it to your local police force. Please see the link in Related Information for contact details.

Please also see the related topic, County Lines, in Related Information.


This could be a case of a bank error, fraud or identity theft (see question Q506 for further information about identity theft).

You should immediately contact your bank/credit card company to report the discrepancies and to terminate your card. The bank/company will have their own fraud department, if necessary, may investigate the matter in conjunction with the police. Take the credit card company/bank's advice on whether they want you to report the matter to the police, as it could just be a mistake, or, they may take on that responsibility, as in some cases they are the actual victim suffering losses, as you are likely to receive your money back.

Further Action

If you think all of your credit/debit card(s) details could have been compromised you should contact the relevant banks and the credit card companies to stop your cards, as necessary.

If you think you have been the victim of identity theft you should ensure personal and financial information is kept secure, shredded or otherwise destroyed (do not put such material in the bin or take it to the dump/tip.

You should always be aware of information on your computer being accessed and take any appropriate security measures. There are a number of possible security threats you should be aware of -

◾ Someone could pretend to be you;
◾ Your card could be cloned. Be very careful when using cashpoint machines, particularly in public places. Criminals can put a realistic front on the machine which reads your card details, and a video camera photographs your pin number. Opportunist thieves could be looking at you entering your pin number, then snatch the card from you to then go on and use the card. Always cover the pin number entry with your other hand or by some other means if you can.
◾ Someone could use your personal details, obtained by a variety of means to obtain cash or property.

For more information, please see the websites in Related Information.


The police do not deal with benefit fraud, the Benefits Agency prosecute their own cases.

If you suspect someone of committing benefit fraud then contact the National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

You can also report suspected benefit fraud online or by post

Contact your local police force

Enter your town or postcode to see information from your local force

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Q749: I suspect I have been a victim of fraud. What can I do?


If you have been the victim of a scam, fraud or cyber crime (e.g. hacking, malicious software), you should report this to Action Fraud. Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime. A link to the website can be found in Related Information. 
For more information on the law relating to fraud, please see Q680: What is the law relating to fraud?