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How to spot and avoid scams

Have you been affected by fraud?

Information

Find out the latest information on scams and investment fraud and guidance on how to protect yourself.

How can I protect myself from scams?

  • Be particularly cautious of opportunities that seem ‘too good to be true’.
  • Be aware of unsolicited phone calls, text messages, emails and letters.
  • Take extra steps to validate the legitimacy of any new payments that you may be making.
  • Be wary of dealing with any business that uses a personal email address i.e. @gmail, @hotmail.
  • Never provide your personal banking credentials (PIN, internet/telephone banking passwords) to anyone else. We will never ask for this information.

What types of scams are there?

Advance fee

Advance fee scams involve fraudsters targeting victims to make advance or upfront payments for goods, services and/or financial gains that do not materialise. These can come in different forms but most commonly inheritance fraud, where the victim is advised that a wealthy relative has died and they are due to receive an inheritance of significant value, which is purportedly being held by the Bank.

Change of beneficiary

This scam involves providing fraudulent advice of a change of details for a beneficiary that you already have previously paid and may be paying on a regular basis. The fraudster may send an email, text or postal instruction advising you that the account details have changed and further payments should be sent to the new details. Fraudsters will add legitimacy to the instruction by using logos/signatures for the genuine beneficiary and may compromise or copy email addresses.

Courier

You are called on your landline by your bank and told that fraudsters have used your debit or credit card and it needs to be replaced. You call your bank, which confirms this. You are told to key in your pin number and hand over your card to a courier who will arrive soon. However, between receiving the call and dialling your bank you didn't hear a dial tone and are actually still speaking to the scammers, who never disconnected the line.

Customer service survey scam

This scam is driven by adware (software often unwittingly installed by the customer) and involves customers being prompted with a survey when visiting certain websites. The survey may contain the name of the site and may look official, often offering a reward such as a 'free' gift. Whilst some websites will legitimately perform customer service surveys, caution should be used whenever payment is requested for the delivery of the gift.

Employment

A job scam happens when a fraudster claims to be a recruitment agent, hiring you for a job (which can be in a foreign country). Once you have received the job offer, the fraudsters will contact you about arrangements. If the job is abroad, they will talk about arranging travel, accommodation and visas. You will be referred to an agency that, again, may have a website to give it credibility. The agency is supposed to help you with all your arrangements – for a fee. Some employment fraudsters ask the applicant to pay a fee in order to apply for a job. In reality, there is no job and any fees paid go straight to the fraudsters.

False refund

This scam involves a fraudster contacting you allegedly from an existing service provided (i.e. telecoms, internet provider, utilities) and advises you are due a refund. The fraudster asks you to log onto their computer and allow the company access in order to process the refund, during this process you are asked to log on to internet banking. This allows the fraudster to make unauthorised payments during your internet banking session.

Online shopping

Shopping and auction fraud involves fraudulent shopping scams that rely on the anonymity of the internet. As the popularity of internet shopping and online auctions grows, so the number of complaints about transactions is increasing. Some of the most common complaints involve:-

  • Buyers receiving goods late, or not at all.
  • Sellers not receiving payment.
  • Buyers receiving goods that are either less valuable than those advertised or significantly different from the original description.
  • Failure to disclose relevant information about a product or the terms of sale.

Phishing

A phishing email is a fraudulent email claiming to be from a bank or other well-known company. These emails are sent out randomly by fraudsters and can look very convincing. They employ a number of tricks to persuade you to disclose information. For example, they may inform you of a problem with your account and ask that you urgently verify your account details.

Prize/lottery

You are called, texted or emailed and congratulated for winning a prize or even a huge lottery pot (although you can't remember buying a ticket). In order to collect your winnings you are asked to pay a processing fee or to call a premium rate phone line.

Romance/dating

Romance or dating fraud is when you think you have met your perfect partner online, but they aren’t who they say they are. Once they have gained your trust, they ask for money for a variety of emotive reasons. For example:-

  • They have arranged to visit you but need money to pay travel costs, visa costs etc. Or they have paid for a plane ticket which is then stolen.
  • A family member or someone else they are responsible for is ill and they need money for medical treatment.

Software fix

This scam involves fraudsters contact you claiming to be from a software company (usually Microsoft) and advises you that they have detected a virus on your computer and for a small fee they will resolve the issue. The fraudster will take you through steps in order to give them remote access to your machine and after a short time will declare the issue resolved and ask for payment, usually between £100 and £300. During this time it is not uncommon for fraudsters to install software which will retrieve other personal information to allow them to commit other illegal activity in the future.

Tax

Council tax refunds:

You are told by a cold-caller that you are owed a rebate on your council tax bill or are overpaying because your property is in the wrong tax band. You are then asked to hand over your bank or credit card details so your money can be refunded.

Council tax discount:

You are told that if you start paying by direct debit you will get a discount – but first you need to pay an administration fee.

Tax back:

You receive an email from HMRC offering you a huge tax refund if you give your personal details online or by email.

Telephone (vishing)

Fraudsters will make a phone call posing as a caller from a bank (often the Fraud department) or law enforcement. They try and persuade you to reveal financial and/or personal information so they can gain access to your bank accounts. They may advise there has been fraud on your account and you need to make a transaction to a dedicated ‘safe account’.

The fraudster will often advise you to hang up and dial the number on the back of their card to verify that the call is legitimate. If you are asked to call the number on the back of your card, hang up, wait 5 minutes to clear the line or where possible use a different phone line to call us. The fraudster will leave the line open so that when you redial they are still on the phone. In some circumstances the fraudster will play a dial tone or holding message to avoid suspicions.

What types of investment fraud/scams are there?

Affinity fraud

Affinity fraud is a variation of investment fraud and occurs where criminals target members of a group, such as community, religious, ethnic, elderly or professional groups, to invest in a scheme. This scam is very much about gaining the trust of individuals who will then pay into a bogus investment scheme. The fraudsters rely on victims thinking that they will betray the group if they report the scheme to the police and tend to try and sort the issues out within the group.

Boiler room

Boiler room scams traditionally offer shares but are now diversifying into other commodities such as diamonds and wine. Customers are offered worthless, overpriced or even non-existent shares with the promise of high returns. Customers are cold-called by fraudsters using high–pressure sales tactics which can also come by email, post or word of mouth.

Carbon credit

A carbon credit is a certificate or permit which represents the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) and they can be traded for money. Customers are offered the opportunity to purchase carbon credit certificates, or an opportunity to invest directly in a ‘green’ scheme or project that generates carbon credits as a return on investment. Advertised as the ‘next big thing’ in commodity trading but customers could lose money by not being able to sell, or at least get a competitive rate, when trading a small volume of carbon credits.

Land banking

Land banking companies divide land into smaller plots to sell it to investors on the basis that once it is available for development it will soar in value; Many plot-holders lose large sums of money as planning permission is often not granted or even applied for and the 'investor' is left with a plot which is worth practically nothing. While not all land banking schemes are a scam, it is not often made clear to investors that there are restrictions on the development of the land or that it is otherwise protected.

Pension liberation

Pension liberation is a transfer of your pension savings to an arrangement that will allow an individual to access their pension funds before the age of 55. This activity can be fraudulent where individuals are not informed, or are misled, as to the consequences of entering into one of these schemes. Victims are usually targeted via an unsolicited phone call, text or email with pushy advisers offering cash incentives from an individual’s pension.

Pension liberation can result in tax charges and penalties. This is in addition to high charges for entering into one of these arrangements and high risk investments for the remaining pension savings.

Ponzi and pyramid schemes

Ponzi and pyramid schemes promise investors high returns or dividends not usually available through traditional investments. Ponzi and pyramid schemes occur where payments are made to existing investors using money from new investors. This helps make the scheme seem genuine and profitable to the early investors and encourages them to attract more people and money. But both types of scheme collapse when the unsustainable supply of new investors and money dries up. Investors usually find most or all of their money is gone, and that the fraudsters who set up the scheme claimed much of it for themselves.

Where can I learn more about protecting myself from scams?

Latest industry information for consumers is available on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website and Little Book Of Big Scams. The British Banking Association (BBA) website also contains regularly updated information on protecting yourself(PDF, opens in a new window).

Little Book of Big Scams(PDF, opens in a new window)

Emails

It’s difficult to know sometimes if email content is genuine or is from someone trying to obtain your personal information. We've included some guidance for you below.

How do I spot suspicious emails?

Some top tips on how to spot suspicious contact:

  • Check the email subject line; anything along the lines of “There is a secure message waiting for you”, “security alert”, “system upgrade” etc. should be treated as suspicious.
  • If the email does not address you by name, it could be a scam. Check the greeting without opening the email if you can (use preview mode).
  • Check the email address. Does it originate from the address that you generally receive emails from or just a similar looking one?
  • Look out for a prompt to click on a hyperlink or a button, or to download a file – something like “Verify your account or password” or “update your security details”. These might take you to a copycat website where you will be prompted to enter your full details.
  • Be suspicious of any message that creates a sense of urgency, such as “If you don’t respond within 48 hours, your account will be closed”.

Remember - NEVER respond to any suspicious emails and don’t click on any links or attachments within them. Do not reply to a phishing email and NEVER follow any links. Clydesdale or Yorkshire Bank will NEVER ask you via email for your full PIN or password or for details of your accounts or cards.

To protect your information you should keep your operating system, firewall and all anti-virus software up to date, installing updates when prompted to do so. We also recommend you download and install the free IBM Trusteer Rapport software to give you an additional layer of protection you can't get from your firewall and anti-virus software alone.

What are phishing emails?

A phishing email is a fraudulent email claiming to be from a bank or other well-known company. These emails are sent out randomly by fraudsters and can look very convincing. They employ a number of tricks to persuade you to disclose information. For example, they may inform you of a problem with your account and ask that you urgently verify your account details.

How do I report phishing emails?

If you have received a fraudulent or suspicious email claiming to be from the Bank please do not respond to it and forward the email to us at reportphishing-cb@cbonline.co.uk for internet banking customers and reportphishing@cybusinessonline.co.uk for BusinessOnline customers (please note no acknowledgement will be sent).

Never reply to a suspected phishing email and never follow any links and delete the email.

Will the bank ever send me emails?

We want to let you know that we’re starting to use emails to contact our customers, and we’ll mainly get in touch with you this way in future. We’ve found that our customers prefer receiving emails as they’re convenient, secure and environmentally friendly.

How do I recognise an email is genuine from the bank?

Service and Marketing emails sent by us include a few things to help you be confident that they are genuine:

  • We’ll always address you by name
  • We include the last part of your postcode in the security information
  • Emails we send will never include a link to any login or other page asking you for account or card details, your PIN, login details or password.

How did you get my email address?

When you signed up for your Clydesdale account you registered your email address with us.

Will you be selling my data to any third parties?

No, this is against our policy – we’ll keep your information private and protected.

How do I opt out of email communications?

If you would like to opt out of emails

  • Send a secure message while you’re in your Internet Banking session through the Contact Us tab selecting General Feedback from the list of options in the drop down box.
  • visit your nearest branch
  • click on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails.

Additional help

Financial fraud action

FFA UK is responsible for leading the collective fight against financial fraud on behalf of the UK payments industry.

Cyber streetwise

A UK Government campaign offering a variety of tips and advice on the essentials for enjoying a safe online experience.

Met police

The Metropolitan police fraud team provide information as a resource to assist in combatting fraud and to prevent you becoming a victim of crime.


Branch locator

Find your nearest Clydesdale Bank branch, Business and Private Banking centre or ATM

Branch locator

Contact us

If you have any concerns about fraudulent activity, please give us a call on:

0800 345 7365

  • (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
  • Please note all our calls to our lines are recorded for training and security purposes.

Internet Banking help centre

You can find more information about Internet Banking in our help centre

Help centre