Scam email, text or social media message scams

Email scams, also known as phishing scams, are when a fraudster uses email to try and trick you into sharing information, make a payment, or click a link. These emails are increasingly sophisticated and often appear to have been sent from a legitimate address.

If you're ever asked in an email to click a link, share information, make a payment or do anything unusual or out of the ordinary, forward the email to ihaveseenascam@co-operativebank.co.uk and don't respond.

How to protect yourself from scam emails, texts and social media messages

  • if you are in any doubt that a message may not be genuine stop and do not respond. Instead, call us using a trusted number from the back of your card, your bank statement or our contact us page
  • be vigilant to any out of the blue message requests from family members, friends or work colleagues, which involve you transferring money to them. It's always best to check the message first by speaking to the person direct before deciding to part with any money
  • never respond to an unexpected message from an unknown source. Always avoid clicking on links or opening attachments contained in messages. Never log into online banking through a link in a message
  • ensure you use strong passwords and lock your devices when not in use. Keep your anti-virus software up to date and always complete security and software updates when promoted. This can protect you from viruses contained in links and messages
  • be vigilant and alert to requests to re-enter your security credentials or any unusual screens, when banking online. These could be an indication of malware
  • when making a purchase online or inputting personal details on a website, always make sure it's secure. Look for a padlock symbol in your browser, usually next to the web address and check that the web address starts with 'https' rather than just 'http'. This tells you that it's a secure site
  • if you want to check that an email, text or social media message received is genuine, use contact details obtained from a reliable source
  • to help stop SPAM texts forward the text to 7726. For further advice on nuisance calls and messages visit the OFCOM website
  • if you are using a Third Party Provider (TPP), please read our advice on how to use Third Party Provider (TPP) services safely.

Phone scams

Phone scams, also known as vishing, are when a fraudster attempts to trick you into sharing information or making a payment over the phone. Fraudsters sometimes 'spoof' a legitimate phone number, so it appears they're calling from your bank.

We'll never ask you to reveal sensitive information like your PIN or account details, or ask you to make a payment or move money over the phone. If someone asks you to do any of these things, hang up and report the scam to us.

Current account customers

Call us on 03457 212 212 or +44 3457 212 212 from outside the UK. Lines are open from 8am to 8pm 7 days a week. Call charges

Credit card customers

Call us on 0345 600 6000 or +44 345 600 6000 from outside the UK. Lines are open from 8am to 8pm 7 days a week. Call charges

How to protect yourself from telephone scams

  • always be wary of unexpected cold calls. Say no to requests for information and don’t be afraid to terminate the call
  • never respond to callers who ask you to confirm your PIN, verification codes or token codes, or to request to collect your bank card from your home address. We will never ask you to do this
  • never respond to a request to transfer your funds to another bank, even if the caller advises you that you need to urgently move your money to a 'safe' bank account. We will never ask you to do this
  • never respond to a caller who asks you to log on to online banking or a request that allows them remote access to your computer
  • don’t assume a call is genuine because they know personal details about you or by the caller ID information. Fraudsters can copy the telephone number of an organisation and make it appear on the caller ID display
  • if you want to validate a phone call use contact details obtained from a reliable source.
  • if you are using a Third Party Provider (TPP), please read our advice on how to use Third Party Provider (TPP) services safely.

You can read our latest article on phone, and impersonation scams here.

Always stop and think - is this a genuine call? Take Five to stop fraud.

Computer software scams

Malicious software can help criminals access your drive and steal your money. Fraudsters may attempt to trick you into downloading this software by posing as a representative of an organisation like your bank, HMRC or the Police, typically by calling or texting. 

They usually use coercive language, like claiming there has been suspicious activity on your account or that they need help with an investigation. 

You should only install software from a source you trust and never download anything at the request of a stranger.

Remember these key tips

  • be vigilant – if you are unsure if a text message or phone call from us is genuine. Stop! Don't panic, and contact us using the number on the back of your card, ideally using another telephone as the caller could try to stay on the line
  • you can also contact a genuine company by using a trusted number from their website
  • neither the Bank nor the Police will ever contact you and ask you to move your money to another account to keep it safe. Neither will we ask you to help us with a fraud investigation
  • HMRC will never text or call you and threaten you to pay a tax bill or face prosecution
  • you will never be contacted by anyone and asked to log in to your online bank account to check that you have received a refund or to request that you return an overpayment.

Online dating scams

Online dating scams, also called romance fraud scams, are when a fraudster forms a relationship with their target. They often do it through dating apps and social media using a fake identity.

Once they've established a relationship, the fraudster manipulates their target and may be able to trick them into sharing sensitive information, sending money or giving them access to their bank accounts.

Online dating scams can be very convincing. Always be cautious when communicating online with people you don't know and never share sensitive information, provide access to your bank accounts, or send money to someone who has approached you online. 

Spot the warning signs - Be extremely cautious if your online love interest:

  • is very attentive - contacting you regularly, often daily and pushes to speak with you away from the dating site or chat room
  • declares their feelings for you very quickly and asks lots of personal questions but never really tells you much about themselves or they are vague about basic details such as where they live or work
  • has the perfect profile picture and seems too good to be true
  • begins to ask you for money - typically for some sort of crisis e.g. an ill friend or relative who requires urgent hospital treatment or to pay for a flight, food or rent etc.

How to protect yourself from romance scams

  • don't put yourself and your identity in jeopardy by trusting people too quickly. Be cautious when getting to know people online
  • think twice before displaying or posting personal or financial information online or openly sharing personal details which could be used to steal your identity
  • guard your privacy and trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right it probably isn't
  • use reverse image search to check that the profile picture of your new love interest isn't taken from somewhere else
  • never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you don't really know or have never met in person
  • never let your bank account be used to receive money or to move money on for someone else
  • only use reputable dating websites and avoid switching to direct messaging, text or phone calls too quickly. Fraudsters try to get you away from the website so that there is no evidence of them asking you for money.

Investment scams

Investment scams or get rich quick scams happen when fraudsters pose as pushy salespeople and trick you into putting your money into a fake investment.

Common investment opportunities offered by fraudsters include:

  • binary options (betting on if the price of a share, stock market or asset will be above or below a set price in the future)
  • wine
  • gold, silver, diamonds and other precious metals
  • land for development
  • overseas property or land
  • storage units and parking spaces
  • biofuels, Graphene and carbon credits
  • investments involving the use of cryptocurrencies (virtual money) such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.

Warning signs to be alert to:

Out of the blue contact - Whether it's a phone call, email, text, social media message or on your doorstep, if the offer is unexpected it's likely to be a scam.

Tempting returns - If you're becoming enticed by a fantastic deal, 'guaranteed' to soar in value or make you money quickly, remember - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Risks played down - If there is no or little mention of the risks involved in the investment or they are quickly brushed over, be extremely cautious.

Repeated calls and pressurised to act fast - If you find yourself being continually contacted, pushed into making a rushed decision to part with your money or you're finding it difficult to end the conversation, then always STOP and THINK. Don't be afraid to put the phone down.

Recovery scams - If you've previously fallen victim to a scam, your details may be passed on or sold to other fraudsters. If you're contacted and offered help to recover your lost money and it involves you paying an upfront fee or investing more money then STOP - It's highly likely to be another scam.

If you are considering an investment, do as much research as possible before parting with any money.

  • seek impartial advice from a financial advisor that is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
  • ask the individual or company for their Firm Reference Number and contact details
  • check that the individual or company are authorised by the FCA. The FCA also holds a warning list of individuals or companies who are not regulated and operating without their authorisation. To check FCA's register and warning list visit fca.org.uk/scamsmart or call the FCA consumer helpline on: 0800 111 6768 (Call charges)

You can read our latest article on investment fraud here.

If you think you may have fallen for a fraud scam or suspect that you are being offered a fraudulent investment please contact us immediately.

Pension scams

Pension scams happen when fraudsters pose as pension advisors and trick you into releasing your pension early, or transferring your money into bogus investments that are guaranteed to grow in value and make you lavish returns.

Be alert to the warning signs:

Out of the blue contact - No legitimate pension or investment firm will ever cold call you. If you receive an unsolicited approach, whether it's by phone, email, text or at your door step - it's likely to be a scam.

Phrases such as 'free pension review', 'retirement planning', 'government endorsed', 'cash bonus' or 'one off investment opportunity' - If you're suddenly contacted and these terms are used, hang up.

Access to your pension before the age of 55 - this may not only lead to you losing money because of a bogus investment but huge tax implications too.

Pushed to act fast - If you find you're being hurried into transferring your pension funds, making a quick decision or persistently being contacted, no matter how professional or convincing the individual or company seem always stop and think.

Tempting returns - If you're becoming enticed by a fantastic deal remember - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

If you're considering releasing your pension savings or moving it to an investment, do not go ahead until you are 100% certain that your money will be safe. Protect yourself by:

  • seeking impartial advice from a financial advisor that is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
  • checking that the pension advisor, broker or organisation is registered by the FCA by visiting fca.org.uk/scamsmart or by calling the FCA helpline on: 0800 111 6768 (Call charges)
  • speaking to the Pensions Advisory Service on 0300 123 1047 (Call charges) for pension information and guidance
  • reporting pension scams to Action Fraud - the UK's national fraud reporting centre at actionfraud.police.uk.

If you bank with us and think you may have fallen for a fraud scam please contact us.

Invoice re-direction scams

Invoice re-direction scams can result in losses that run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. It happens when a fraudster tricks a business into changing bank account payee details for a known supplier.

All businesses, regardless of size, can become a victim of fraud. To protect your business from this threat always verify a request to change bank payment details. Contact your supplier directly using established contact details, before implementing the change or completing the payment.

If you hold a business account with us and think you may have fallen victim to an invoice redirection scam contact us immediately.

How do invoice scams happen?

Fraudsters will do their research. They will often be aware of the detailed relationships between businesses and their suppliers and know when regular payments are due.

Fraudsters may attempt to intercept genuine invoices and change the bank payment details.

Alternatively, they may contact the business by telephone, email, letter or fax, posing as a trusted supplier to make a formal request to change the bank account payment details held.

If the business does not validate the change and settles the invoice, the funds go to an account that the fraudster has access to.

The fraudulent payment is then quickly transferred, often to outside of the UK, making the recovery of funds extremely difficult.

Often the business does not realise they have been scammed until the genuine supplier chases for non-payment, in some cases this can be weeks or even months later. At this point, it is virtually impossible for the business to get the stolen funds back.

Alternative reports of this scam have included fraudsters falsely claiming to be a senior member of a business, providing account details and instructing an urgent payment to be processed. If the business completes the request, the funds go to an account the fraudster has access to.

What are the warning signs to look out for?

Any unexpected requests to change or update payment details for a regular supplier.

Whether made by telephone, email, letter, or fax, if your business is contacted ‘out of the blue’ to amend bank payee details always treat this as a potential warning sign.

Any unexpected, urgent payment requests made via email, text or fax, which supposedly appear to have been made by an internal senior member and provides account details.

What steps can I take to protect my business from this scam?

Protect your business by:

  • treating any notification to change a supplier’s bank account details or complete an ‘urgent’ payment, as a high risk activity
  • always verifying a request BEFORE implementing the change or completing the payment. Be mindful not to use the contact details provided on the instruction, instead use established contact details to validate the change
  • educating staff with responsibility for processing invoices to be alert to scams and unexpected payment requests. To always check for irregularities and to raise concerns immediately
  • ensuring that senior staff members of your business know about this fraud risk and understand exactly what they are authorising
  • setting up designated single points of contact with regular suppliers
  • reconciling accounts daily to help quickly identify potential fraud payments
  • being mindful of information displayed on your company website and if this could be used to facilitate fraud
  • to not presume an email, text or fax request to make an urgent payment is genuine, even if it appears to have been sent by a senior member of the business.

    I have lost money to an invoice scam. What should I do?

    If you hold a business account with us and have fallen for an invoice re-direction scam recently or may have received a fraudulent request, contact us immediately.

    If you don’t bank with us and have lost money to an invoice re-direction scam report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre at www.actionfraud.police.ukor by calling 0300 123 20 40. Call charges

    Where can I find out more about safeguarding my business against fraud?

    More information about protecting your business from fraud is available in the scams booklets below.

    Little book of big scams (business edition)

    Financial Fraud Action UK Leaflet

    Information is also available by visiting the Financial Fraud Action website.

    PPI refund scams, sometimes called Advance Fee Fraud

    Fraudsters will say that you have been mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) and you are owed money. They will tell you that you must make a payment for the funds to be released. This is a scam.

    Fraudsters will contact you under the guise of working for authorised claim companies in an attempt to make their approach seem credible and genuine. They may also claim to be from the Financial Conduct Authority, the Claims Management Regulator or Ministry of Justice.

    They will inform you that you are owed a refund from the mis-selling of PPI. Fraudsters will then ask you to make a payment to them so that you can access the money. The payment tends to be about 10% of the amount they claim you are owed.

    Scammers will request that payments are made using unusual means; this could include a Ukash voucher, iTunes gift cards or a Paysafecard. These means are used so that the money transfer cannot be traced.

    If you make a payment, fraudsters will often contact you again to request more funds to be transferred to release the owed payment.

    Protect Yourself

    • be wary of unexpected calls, especially if you're asked to make payments or transfer funds up-front, or to divulge account information. There's no harm in hanging up
    • avoid making any payments to people claiming to be from companies or authorities who contact you without prior notification. Be extra vigilant when they ask you to use unconventional payment methods
    • you can use the Authorised Business Register to check if a claims company is authorised and legitimate. Be aware that fraudsters will often pretend to be from genuine companies
    • check that any phone calls, text messages or emails are from numbers or addresses registered in the UK. Avoid contact from overseas numbers
    • regulatory bodies such as the FCA, the Claims Management Regulator or the Ministry of Justice will never contact members of the public asking for personal banking details or money.

    Money mule scams

    Money mule scams are when a fraudster tricks you into receiving and sending money that is connected to crime. Fraudsters may contact you and offer you an opportunity to earn easy money from home or to make quick cash. They often target unemployed people, new arrivals to the country and people in financial hardship. 

    These scams are particularly dangerous because if you are conned into participating, you may be committing the crime and could face up to 14 years in jail.

    How to protect yourself

    • if you have already responded to a money mule scam, stop transferring money immediately and contact us at your earliest convenience
    • be wary of any jobs promoted on recruitment sites, social media or in chat rooms for positions such as 'Account Manager', 'Transfer Manager' or 'UK Representative'
    • don't give your bank account details to anyone unless you know and trust them. A legitimate company will never ask you to use your own bank account to transfer money
    • be cautious of unsolicited offers of easy money. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
    • research any company that makes you a job offer and make sure that their contact details are genuine
    • be wary of job offers where all interactions and transactions are completed online
    • be wary of job adverts with poor English, spelling and grammatical mistakes.

    Purchase scams

    Online shopping can save you time, effort and money. Those great deals can tempt anyone to take a greater risk if they think they’re getting a bargain, and criminals know it!
    Fraudsters will try and trick you through fake adverts, websites, social media accounts and emails, advertising goods or services that don’t exist or aren’t even theirs to sell.

    You can read our latest article on protecting yourself from purchase and delivery scams here.

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