Half a Billion Stolen in Six Months

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By Crispin Bateman
Updated on Thursday 5 December 2019

online scam

The days of running into a branch with a balaclava over your head and a sawn-off shotgun shouting ‘get down!’ seem to be a thing of the past.

Probably a good thing.

Theft has migrated online and those with little technological knowledge are being scammed far too easily.

Unauthorised Fraud

Having your money stolen by unwanted access to your account, is fraud and the banks and authorities deal with it accordingly. Thankfully, this means that you will be reimbursed for the breach in security that led to your funds being taken.

While the majority of electronic theft is due to unauthorised fraud, a substantial percentage is due to scams tapping into the technological ease of a bank payment.

Authorised Push Payment (APP) Scams

An authorised push payment is when you willingly give money from your bank account and put it in another (‘pushing’ the money away from you). Most of us do this on a regular basis – buying a new pair of shoes on the internet or paying for a service through bank transfer.

And for the most part, it’s absolutely fine.

But what about when you don’t receive the goods or service you expected, or you’ve been tricked somehow into putting the wrong details into your mobile banking app? Then the money went away and you have little recourse to getting it back.

After all – it’s not the bank’s fault that you sent money somewhere.

APP scams formed almost a third of that £500 million figure, with UK account holders losing £145 million through these transactions in the first half of 2018.

What Can You Do? – Protecting Yourself from APP Scams

Sending someone money without checking that its going to the right place or that the item you are paying for even exists is easy to do if you don’t feel confident in the process. Like most scammers, those utilising APP do so by preying on the vulnerable.

With a little knowledge, it is easy to protect yourself from online tricksters:

  • Check, double-check and triple-check the sort-code and account number. Making sure you have put the right details in is key. A single error here can mean the money goes to a completely different account.

  • Remember, though you may be asked for the account name, this isn’t checked by the bank and is mainly there as a reference.

  • Use a credit card. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act can help protect you if you pay for goods or services you do not receive. This valuable layer of protection doesn’t exist for bank transfers or debit cards and will not apply if you use a third-party service (such as PayPal) for paying the money.

  • Never give away any of your passwords or PINs. Keep your login details personal and hidden. No bank or other reputable institution is going to ever ask for your PIN or online password. Be especially cautious responding to emails and never include account details in an email or online message.

  • Don’t fall to pressure. Anyone who is trying to rush through a transaction has a reason for that rush – take a step back and give yourself time to think and properly assess the situation.

  • Do your research. If something feels in any way out of place, take some time to google the situation. People who may have fallen for the scam previously will usually discuss it online to stop it happening to others. It is possible to look up company names, phone numbers and even sort-codes to check they are legitimate before continuing with a transaction.

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