Scam warning as thousands of Britons attacked – what to do if you fall victim

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Bank scams often attack Britons in unsuspecting ways, for example, through a text message urging them to update details, or a phone call informing them of alleged fraud. A popular form of fraud takes place online, with millions of people having access to the web via computers, phones and tablets. These scams are often sophisticated, designed to reel in as many victims as possible and can have devastating financial consequences.

Recent data from the Office for National Statistics indicated online fraud rose by as much as 70 percent during the pandemic.

It appears the disruption of lockdown and the greater use of online services have offered fraudsters new opportunities to strike.

Although many people will hope to avoid a scam, it remains a good idea to know what to do if one is targeted. spoke exclusively to Al Ward, Head of Customer Savings at Choices by abrdn about the matter.

As a first port of call, he urged, contacting one’s bank is a matter of significant urgency.

He said: “You should tell them exactly what has happened and give them any details you can of where your money was sent, including the account number and sort code used if you have them.

“Your bank may be able to stop the transaction going through, or even recover the money from the account you sent it to.”

The next important action Britons should bear in mind is reporting the scam itself, as this can often help prevent others from experiencing the same thing.

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If a scam involves sending money or handing out personal information, then Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting service may be able to help.

The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) consumer helpline or online form can also help Britons to explain their predicament.

Next, Mr Ward stated, spreading the word about the scam is important.

He continued: “If you have any other financial products, like investments or accounts, alert the providers to what has happened.

“You can ask for some form of protection to be applied to your accounts, like a password or a warning marker that means you will be contacted if anyone attempts to transfer funds out of your accounts or if any details are asked to be amended.

“You can also contact CIFAS, a charity fraud prevention organisation. 

“Taking out its Protective Registration will flag your name and personal details to its National Fraud Database – companies signed up to the database will see you’re at risk, and take extra steps to protect you.”

If a scam results in personal details, such as a password, being stolen, or if a person suspects this might have happened, quick action is required.

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Britons should always change their password for any affected account as soon as possible, as well as taking steps to secure other accounts.

If one suspects a virus has targeted one of their devices, then running anti-virus software can help identify and remove any threats.

Finally, Mr Ward said it was important not to play down the emotional impacts a scam can have on someone who has been victimised.

Organisations such as anti-scam charity Think Jessica, or groups like the Samaritans or Victim Support are always on hand to offer assistance.

Mr Ward concluded: “Scams are much more common than you think, so please do seek help – make sure to use all of the support available to you.”

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