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Cases of ‘safe account scams’ up 50%: how to protect yourself  

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

A study reveals Britons’ worrying lack of knowledge about so-called ‘safe account scams’ despite reports of cases increasing by more than 50%. 

A safe account scam is when a fraudster tricks a victim into transferring all their money to a ‘safe account’ by telling them that their bank account has been compromised usually by posing as a bank representative or police officer.

This type of scam is growing rapidly, with the number of cases rising by 53% in 2019 compared to the previous year and the average amount lost per case reaching £5,634, according to Santander.

However, a poll of 2,000 Britons by advice firm KIS Finance found that nearly half (48%) have either never heard of this scam, or they have heard of it but wouldn’t be able to spot it.

Even more worryingly, one in four people (26%) would transfer all their money to a ‘safe account’ if someone that they believed to be from their bank, or a police officer, called them and said their bank account had been compromised. This jumps to 47% among 25-34 year olds.

Holly Andrews, managing director at KIS Finance, said: “Safe account scams can see victims losing their life’s savings in the space of minutes, having a detrimental effect on those who fall for it – both financially and emotionally.

“These scammers are smart – they know exactly how to manipulate the conversation and gain their victims’ trust.”

Some of the tactics the scammers use include asking ‘security questions’ at the beginning of the call in order to gain information such as security codes, log-in details, and bank balances.

If the customer later becomes suspicious then they use this information to prove their legitimacy, relying on the customer forgetting that they gave them this information in the first place.

Andrews added: “They will also spoof the phone number so even if someone was to check, their bank’s genuine fraud number and the number that’s calling them will match.

“The number of people who have said that they would willingly make the transfer if they received one of these calls is extremely worrying, especially in the younger age groups where the percentages are significantly higher.

“It sends a clear message of the work that still needs to be done on fraud awareness across the finance and banking sectors.”


How to protect yourself from safe account scams

Your bank will never call you out of the blue and it will never ask for any personal information, bank details, log-in details, security codes, or for you to transfer any money over the phone.

If you receive a phone call from anyone claiming to be from your bank asking you for any details or to transfer money, hang up immediately and report it. Do not call them back on the same number, use the phone number on the back of your bank card.

The scammers will be very pushy, and potentially threatening if you don’t do what they say. They will stress how urgent the situation is and will persuade you to stay on the call (rather than allowing you to hang up and phone them back). A genuine bank would never do this.

Stick to your gut instincts – if something doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t.