Home Help Security centre Fraud awareness Latest fraud scams Current Page

Latest scams

Keeping you up to date about the latest types of scam.

We'll never ask you to:
 

  • tell us your card’s 4-digit PIN
  • share your online banking password, Secure Key codes, or one-time passcodes sent to your phone
  • transfer money anywhere, including to a 'safe' account
  • send us your card, cheque book or cash
  • check the number we're calling from is genuine by looking it up on the Internet.

When you're contacted by phone, email or text:

  • stop – be suspicious. Taking a moment before parting with your money or information could keep you safe
  • challenge – could it be fake? It's OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you
  • protect - ask someone you trust, such as a friend or family member. Don't call numbers in messages or emails - contact the company directly or go to the official website or app.

 

We also regularly post warnings about common scams on our social media channels FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

March 2024: Gold purchasing scams

If someone asks you to buy gold and hand it to them for safekeeping, it’s a scam.

Fraudsters are tricking people into buying gold, other precious metals or jewellery then physically handing it over to criminals.

They may pose as police, bank employees or other government officials (or all of these together) to make you believe your money is not safe in the bank. 

What to look out for

The exact details of each scam can vary. They may involve more than one scammer posing as different organisations. They may tell you:

  • You have been a victim of fraud within the bank and shouldn’t trust them
  • You are helping a police investigation
  • Your money is counterfeit
  • You need to buy gold or jewellery to stay safe

Scammers will make you believe they are helping you to trick you into giving them gold. They might ask you to buy it from a reputable supplier.

The police and government agencies will NEVER ask you to buy gold. Anyone who does this is trying to trick you.

How to stay safe

Stop and think. If you are asked to buy gold to stay safe, it is a scam. Legitimate fraud investigations will not ask you to do this.

If someone contacts you or asks you to buy or hand over gold or jewellery, hang up immediately.

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, call the number on the back of your card.

 

February 2024: Romance scams

Met a new partner or friend online? Are they unable to meet in person? If they ask you to send them money, it could be a fraudster using a fake identity to scam you.

How romance scams work

Criminals set up fake profiles on dating sites or social media, and build ‘relationships’ with victims who think they’re talking to a real person. They build trust, often over months of chatting and even phone calls. There’s usually a believable reason they can’t meet in person. Then they play on your emotions to trick you into sending them money. It’s easy to be fooled.

Spot the signs of romance scams

A scammer you’ve only met online might ask you for money and say things like:

  • They are abroad and need money for travel to visit you
  • They have a sick relative who needs medical care
  • They have a business problem and need a loan to tide them over
  • They’re waiting for an inheritance but need funds to access their money

If someone you’re talking to online asks for money, stop and think. Check in with family or friends you know in person for a second opinion.

How to stay safe

Never send money to someone you haven’t met in person. They might not be who they say they are.

What to do if you think you’ve been a victim

Call us using the number on the back of your card if you think you’ve been the victim of a romance scam.

 

Jan 2024: Hotel booking scams

Scams involving hotel bookings are on the rise. If you’re paying for hotels or holidays, take extra care when making payments to protect yourself from fraud.

What to look out for

Some hotels and major booking platforms have recently been compromised by scammers.

  • Fraudsters send messages or links requesting payments which may come directly from your booking app or platform.
  • These messages often contain accurate booking information, like your hotel name or holiday dates. This makes it hard to spot it’s a scam.
  • They might say there’s a problem with your card, or that your booking was cancelled and you need to pay again.

Clicking payment links in messages like these allows scammers to take your payment instead of the hotel.

How to protect yourself

Stop and double check before making hotel or holiday payments. Call your hotel directly if you receive an unexpected request for payment, even if this comes through an official booking platform or app.

If you think you’ve been a victim

Call the number on the back of your card immediately if you think you’ve been a victim of fraud.

 

May 2023: Cryptocurrency scams

Cryptocurrency– a digital asset used in place of regular currency, is becoming more and more popular. If you want to trade professionally, you'll need to use a cryptocurrency exchange that requires you to verify your ID and open an account or ‘wallet’.

Fraudsters have realised people are looking to invest in cryptocurrency and as this way of trading money is not regulated, it’s difficult to make sure you’re sending your money to a genuine cryptocurrency account. 

What to watch out for

  • If someone asks you to give your bank a false reason for an investment payment, don't. Fraudsters know these payments may attract more scrutiny and will try to avoid it. 
  • Fraudsters may also ask you to download software to access your devices and move money without your knowledge.
  • Fraudsters may impersonate famous people on social media or messaging groups, to make their offer look real and more appealing.
  • The most high value cases even give a return in the short term, to convince victims to invest more. Then, after they send larger payments, they suffer even greater losses.
  • If your account is suddenly closed and they refuse to transfer your funds, or ask for more money before they can transfer funds, report them immediately.

Top tips to keep your money safe

  • Beware of ads on social media using celebrities or public figures to promote cryptocurrency investments.
  • A glossy website and reviews from ‘high net worth’ investors are no guarantee an offer is genuine.
  • Never allow anyone to set up a cryptocurrency wallet, upload ID documents or manage investments for you.
  • Make sure the wallet is in your name and only you have access to it.
  • Never download software that gives somebody access to help you invest or make payments.
  • If in doubt, do some research using well-known, reputable sources before making a payment.
  • Report any suspicious activity. It builds awareness of fraud and helps everybody.

Think you’ve seen something suspicious?

To report a scam or fraudulent activity, get in touch on our usual number, the one on the back of your first direct card.

 

March 2023: Ghost broking – selling fake car insurance

With 1 March being one of the dates new car registrations are released, it’s a time of year a lot of people need to update their car insurance.

This means fraudsters have another opportunity to scam us. Ghost broking is where a scammer sets up a fake website and sells a fraudulent car insurance policy – people don’t know the policy is fake unless they need to make a claim, and then it’s too late. Not being properly insured can get you six points on your driving license, a fine, or worse, a criminal record.

The best way to make sure you don’t end up being sold fake car insurance is to search for the best prices on reputable websites and well known comparison sites, and always check the ratings of any companies as well as making sure they have a phone number that works and checking their company address, and you can do your own checks as well:

  • To check a broker, visit the British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA). 
  • To check a direct insurer, make sure they're a member of Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB). 
  • Whether broker or insurer, check they're registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). If they're not, it’s best not to buy your insurance from them.

 

November 2022: Black Friday and Cyber Monday - Online shopping scams

Look out for online shopping scams this month, as Black Friday deals clog up your inbox, scammers are able to create fake retailer websites and browser links that mimic our favourite stores.

These scams can allow criminals to collect financial details and use credit cards fraudulently. They may also be able to access personal details and passwords.

What to look out for: 

  • an online offer looks too good to be true
  • when you enter your details or reach the checkout, there is no padlock in the website address bar (a padlock is a sign that your connection is secure and the information shared is encrypted BUT it does not necessarily mean the website is genuine)
  • the retailer insists on immediate payment, or payment by bank transfer
  • you can’t find any contact details or shipping policies on the website

How to protect yourself:

  • only buy from retailers and brands you know and trust
  • avoid clicking on links from social media adverts – type the website name directly into the address bar
  • look for a padlock symbol in the address bar for a secure connection
  • always update your computer/phone/tablet operating software and install anti-virus software from a reputable company
  • pay with a credit card or payment option that gives you some protection
  • always ‘log off’ or ‘sign out’ of online banking or shopping accounts

 

November 2022: Remote access takover

This type of fraud starts with an unexpected phone call from someone claiming to be from a well-known company. They may say:

  • there's been an issue with a refund
  • they're trying to solve technical problems with your computer or Wi-Fi
  • you've fallen victim to fraud

The criminal will then tell you to download software or a mobile application to fix things.

They'll ask you to log on to online or mobile banking and share your screen using the remote access software you've downloaded. The fraudster can then take full control of the online or mobile banking session and use your details to steal your money.

No genuine company will ever call you out of the blue to ask for remote access to your devices.

Never give out any the following over the phone:

  • your personal details
  • payment details
  • online or mobile banking credentials

If you're not sure, always call the company back on a trusted number that you know to be correct.

Find out more about remote access takeover scams.

 

November 2022: Delivery scams

Criminals are sending fake text messages and emails claiming to be from a delivery company.

They say they tried to deliver a parcel to you and ask you to click on a link to find out more or rearrange delivery.

Don't click on any links or give any information, especially personal or financial details.

If you think the message may be genuine, open a separate window and visit the company's website using an address that you know is safe. Once there, you can enter your tracking number to see if the message was genuine.

If you think the message isn't genuine, delete it.

Never give any information if you're contacted unexpectedly by email, phone or text. Contact the company separately using a phone number you trust.

Contact us using the number on the back of your card if you've fallen victim to this scam.

 

September 2022: Digital wallet scams

Watch out for unexpected messages about your digital wallet, especially if you haven't used it recently. 

Fraudsters are impersonating banks by sending texts saying there’s a problem with your digital wallet, or it's been suspended or blocked. They'll ask you to enter your personal details via a link, which they'll use to access your accounts.

Always question messages with links asking for personal and financial details. They might want you to share things such as your name, address, card details, sort code and account number.

What you should do:

  • don’t reply, open any links or enter any details
  • report messages by forwarding them free to 7726
  • check your account using the wallet app on your device

If you think you've been scammed, call the number on the back of your first direct card immediately.

August 2022: Council tax and energy rebate scams

Criminals are claiming to be getting in touch about the government’s plan to tackle the cost of living crisis.

They pretend to be from the government or UK energy regulator Ofgem. 

They're sending mails and texts that contain links to websites, asking you to give personal and financial details to claim funds.

Council tax rebates are paid directly to your bank account and any discounts to energy bills will be made automatically by your energy supplier. There's no need to apply.

Ignore any suspicious contacts made asking for personal and financial details and report any such activity directly to Action Fraud.

If you've fallen victim to this type of scam, you should also contact us directly using the number on the back of your credit or debit card.

You can also visit Ofgem and GOV.UK directly to find out more.

 

July 2022: Impersonation scams

There's been a steep rise in criminals pretending to be from first direct and trying to get you to move money into ‘safe accounts’.

They use clever techniques to disguise themselves, such as:

  • sending scam emails or texts that urge you to click on a link
  • using information they've found out about you, to appear genuine 
  • calling from numbers which may seem genuine but aren’t.

Here's how to stay safe from these scams:

  • never move money to a ‘safe account’ if someone asks you to
  • never share any one-time codes.

If you've had any suspicious calls or texts, don't hesitate to get in touch with us. Just use the number on the back of your card.

 

July 2022: Cryptocurrency scams

Fraudsters are trying to cash in on all the talk about cryptocurrency. They'll ask you to move money and offer fake investments.

Before making any investment, always research the company and check they're regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). If they aren't, you won't have any protection if things go wrong.

Here's how to stay safe;

  • stay in control - never let anyone set up a cryptocurrency wallet, upload ID documents or manage investments for you
  • don't share access - fraudsters may ask you to download software so they can access your devices and move money without your knowledge
  • spot familiar tricks - you may be asked to move money, but to give your bank another reason to get a 'smoother' transaction. Fraudsters know payments for investments may attract more scrutiny and will try to avoid it
  • don't fall for fake endorsements - fraudsters may impersonate famous people on social media or messaging groups, to make their offer look legitimate
  • don't be pressured - high value cases even give a return in the short term, to convince the you to invest more. Then, after they send larger payments, they suffer even greater losses.

 

June 2022: Council tax and energy rebate scams

Criminals are using the cost of living crisis as an opportunity to try to steal your money.

They get in touch, pretending to be from the government or UK energy regulator Ofgem. 

They're sending mails and texts that contain links to websites, asking you to give personal and financial details to claim funds.

Remember - council tax rebates are paid directly to your bank account and any discounts to energy bills will be made automatically by your energy supplier. There's no need to apply.

Ignore any contacts asking for personal and financial details and report any such suspicious activity directly to Action Fraud.

If you've fallen victim to this type of scam, you should get in touch with us. Just use the number on the back of your credit or debit card.

You can also visit Ofgem and GOV.UK to find out more.

 

May 2022: Urgent requests to deactivate your first direct App

Fraudsters have been impersonating our fraud team and calling to tell you to deactivate your App to ‘avoid fraud’. They say they’ll talk you through setting it up again. 

When you’ve deactivated your App, the scammer will actually download it on their phone and use the details they ask you to give them on the call to access your money and card details. 

The only time you’ll ever need to deactivate your App is if you get a new device and you decide to set your App up on that when you’re fully in control of the decision. 

We will NEVER call you to ask you to deactivate your App or ask you to give us any of your security details or any codes generated by our App or sent to you by SMS.

 

May 2022: Scammers spoofing our 03 456 100 100 number

We’ve even seen a number of instances where fraudsters have tricked our customers into thinking they’re talking to us because the fraudster has managed to make it look like our 03 456 100 100 phone number is calling them. 

We may call you from this number, but if you ever receive a call from someone claiming to be us, you’ll know for sure it’s a scammer if you’re asked to:

  • deactivate your App
  • give any details about your security – including passwords, secure key codes, one-time passcodes or other personal details
  • to move money into a so called ‘safe account’.

We’ll never ask for any of these. If you have any doubt whatsoever, just ask to call us back – we wouldn’t ever be offended – and then you can call us back once you have had a chance to gather your thoughts.

Find out more about phone scams.

 

May 2022: NHS Covid Test Text scam

Now many of us are paying for COVID tests, fraudsters may text you asking for a small payment for your tests. 

If you pay them, they know you’ve fallen for a scam. They then call pretending to be our fraud team and ask you to move ALL your money into a ‘safe account’ – which is actually owned by them. 

We will NEVER ask you to move your money into a ‘safe account’. 

 

April 2022: WhatsApp scams

We are still seeing WhatsApp scams as we were in December 2021. 

Criminals pose as loved ones and send messages out of the blue, often pretending to be children asking for money urgently.

Trading Standards officers say the messages can be very convincing and plausible.

There have also been reports of people mistakenly sharing their WhatsApp verification code. This can lead to their account being taken over and misused.

Always remain vigilant when using online platforms to talk to family or friends. If you're not sure that someone is who they say they are, the best way to check is to call them using a phone number you know to be genuine. By speaking to them verbally, you'll know it's their voice.

If you receive a message out of the blue, remember:

  • don't reply
  • delete the message
  • forward it to your mobile operator on 7726
  • never share one-time passcodes used to check your identity.

 

April 2022: Ukraine crisis

If you want to help the humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, we encourage you to give to registered charities. Not all websites and fundraising pages will be genuine.

As always, you should remain vigilant and follow the advice in our fraud guides.

We’re supporting the registered appeals set up in the UK to respond to the crisis. Find out how you can donate.

 

April 2022: Funky Pigeon cyber-attack

The online greetings card business Funky Pigeon has stopped taking orders after being hit by a cyber-attack.

It says no payment data is at risk and it doesn’t believe account passwords have been affected.

Anyone who has bought something from Funky Pigeon or has an account with the retailer is advised to:

  • update their security credentials on the Funky Pigeon website
  • check their accounts for any suspicious activity
  • be alert to suspicious contacts reporting to be from the retailer or first direct asking for personal or financial details.

Check our Fraud awareness hub to get online guidance on how to report any suspicious activity.

 

March 2022: Tax year scams

Fraudsters see key times in the tax year as an opportunity to make 'social engineering' attacks.

These can be: 

  • scam emails
  • scam texts
  • bogus phone calls

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has warned people to be on their guard as the end of the tax year approaches.

Watch out also for messages pretending to be from HMRC saying you've received a tax rebate and asking for your account details.

To spot a scam, look for these tell-tale signs: 

  • poor spelling and grammar
  • requests for confidential information such as online banking details, passwords or PINs
  • offers of money or rewards, like lottery prizes
  • warnings your account may be shut down unless you take some type of action.

 

February 2022: Phone call scams

One ploy that criminals use to try to bypass our fraud checks is to make contact with you directly.

This is typically a phone call, but can also be done using instant messaging services like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. 

Fraudsters pretending to be family and asking for money on Whatsapp or by text is very common at the moment.

Fraudsters find it easier to talk their victims into bypassing our checks than trying to do it themselves.

They gather personal and financial details using phishing or other techniques. When they call, they use those details to convince you they're genuine. 

Once a fraudster has found out what they need to know, they'll tell you to take actions that will compromise your account. 

These include: 

  • sharing one-time codes with them
  • replying to text alerts incorrectly
  • deleting your mobile banking app

Be careful when replying to text alerts. If you do so incorrectly, it could inadvertently confirm a fraudulent transaction as genuine. 

If someone tries to convince you over the phone to ignore the instructions in a text alert, that’s a tell-tale sign it’s a fraudster. 

If you get a phone call out of the blue claiming to be from first direct or another company, hang up and call back on a number you know to be genuine.

 

February 2022: Payment scams

With this type of scam, you get a call, email or text message claiming to be from the first direct fraud team or another bank department. Fraudsters might also pretend to be from other financial organisations, your telecoms or utility provider or even the police. 

They say there have been fraudulent transactions on your account and tell you to protect your money by transferring it to a safe account. In most cases the money goes to another bank and sometimes to different accounts. 

The criminals will often warn that bank employees are part of the fraud and coach you not to trust them.

Being asked to lie to the bank about the reason for making a payment is a clear warning sign of a scam.

first direct will never ask you to move money. If somebody is asking you to move money, it's a scam.
 

January 2022: Tax year scams

Fraudsters see key times in the tax year as an opportunity to make 'social engineering' attacks.

These can be: 

  • scam emails
  • scam texts
  • bogus phone calls

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has warned people to be on their guard as the end of the tax year approaches.

Watch out also for messages pretending to be from HMRC saying you've received a tax rebate and asking for your account details.

To spot a scam, look for these tell-tale signs: 

  • poor spelling and grammar
  • requests for confidential information such as online banking details, passwords or PINs
  • offers of money or rewards, like lottery prizes
  • warnings your account may be shut down unless you take some type of action.

 

 

You may also find useful

Common types of fraud and scams

When it comes to emails, texts, phone calls, shopping, dating or investments, it’s not always easy to spot the scammers.

Fraud and scams guides

Your information

Occasionally we'll ask you for documents to confirm you are who you say you are. Just in case.

What we need to keep you safe

Confirming online payments

When you use your debit or credit card online, we may ask you to verify it’s you who’s using the card.

How to confirm your online payments