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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


Fraud is the abuse of position, false representation or prejudicing someone's rights for personal gain. Each carries a maximum prison sentence of ten years.


  • Fraud by false representation
    This offence is committed when a person dishonestly makes a false representation and in doing so intends to make a gain for himself or a loss for another. A representation could be a statement or an act, for example, giving a stolen credit card to a shopkeeper (you are implying that you have the authority to use that card when you don't) or implying that you have goods to sell on an internet auction site (and you don't).
  • Fraud by failing to disclose information
    This offence is committed by a person who has a legal duty to disclose information and who dishonestly fails to disclose it and in doing so intends to make a gain for himself or cause another loss. For example, a person failing to disclose certain facts to an insurance company when taking out a policy.
  • Fraud by abuse of position
    This offence is committed by a person who is in a position of trust and who dishonestly abuses that position and in doing so intends to make a gain for himself or cause another loss. For example, a person who is caring for an elderly person and has access to their bank account and buys something for themselves.

Fraudsters are always finding new ways to trick you out of your money. For more details on the types of fraud and how to protect yourself from becoming a victim, please see the websites in the Related Information section. There is also a link to the Action Fraud website that is designed specifically to report fraud and financially motivated internet crime.


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?



Thousands of British Muslims make the pilgrimage to Mecca for Hajj in October, which involves millions of pounds being spent on travel and accommodation. Unfortunately for some Muslims, this is shattered by fraudsters who trick them into thinking they have paid for a tour package for themselves and their families. They offer fraudulent flights, accommodation and visas - with some Muslims arriving in Saudi Arabia to find that their trip does not exist and is in fact a scam.

Below are a few tips to help protect yourself and your family against Hajj Fraud:

  • Make sure you research the companies you are using; don't book anything without carrying some basic checks on the travel company.
  • Check whether the travel company you want to use is a member of a recognised body (e.g. ABTA).
  • If you are booking flights, make sure that the company is ATOL (Air Travel Organisers' Licensing) protected by the Civil Aviation Authority.
  • Make sure you get all bookings confirmed in writing.
  • DO NOT pay by cash or direct bank transfer into an individual's account. This makes it extremely difficult to recover your money.

If you are the victim of Hajj Fraud, you should report this to Action Fraud who specialise in dealing with fraud and financially motivated internet crime. You can find their link, and other useful websites in Related Information.



Property is usually the most valuable asset that people own. It can be sold and mortgaged to raise money which makes it an attractive target for fraudsters. You are more at risk if -

  • your identity has been stolen (see Q506 on identity theft)
  • you rent out your property
  • you live overseas
  • the property is empty
  • the property isn't mortgaged
  • the property isn't registered with HM Land Registry.

Property alert is an award winning property monitoring service aimed to help anyone who feels a registered property could be at risk from fraud. Please see the links in related information to their website and for guidance on what steps you can take to protect your property from this.

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