Beating the bank scammers

Wednesday 20th February 2019 05:09 EST

Fraud is an issue that affects banks, businesses and individuals. According to UK Finance, last year individuals lost £2,784 on average per case of Authorised Push Payment fraud, also known as APP fraud or simply push fraud. These scams frequently involve someone posing as a legitimate company who issues a payment demand via telephone, intercepted mail or hacked email.

For example, an individual who could be planning on some property renovation hires a building firm and agrees a fee and a start date. They receive an email from an address similar or even exactly the same as the one used by the building firm, requesting payment to be made to the company’s account. The individual, familiar with the company and with an agreement in place, might never stop to consider the legitimacy of the contact and make the payment. A few days later, the individual might contact the company directly only to find that they have not requested a payment and do not own the account that the funds have been sent to. In many cases, the funds are emptied from the fraudulent account in a matter of hours, often becoming unrecoverable, although attempts to retrieve the funds will always be undertaken.

Laurie Hood, Financial Crime Specialist at Starling Bank, shared his advice to avoid APP Fraud. “For those tricked into making the payment the impact can be huge. Taking time to think and being vigilant are key; you should never automatically assume any emails, texts or calls are genuine,” he says. His first tip is to think about the nature of the request: Is the payment being requested earlier than expected? Is it a different amount? Was it unusually urgent? Was it made outside contact hours? Hood also recommends looking carefully at the email which may have subtle changes such as a zero instead of an ‘O.’ He also suggests considering the quality of a text or email such as the spelling, sentence structure or logo which may be of a lower quality than expected. “These should all be red flags for you to take your time and contact the company directly to enquire – they won’t mind, you might just alert them to a fraudster purporting to represent them and it will give you peace of mind!” he says.

Starling Bank is a UK mobile-only bank, committed to preventing and raising awareness about fraud. Visit

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