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Bank reveals three most common scams

·3-min read

Purchase scams, impersonation scams and investment scams are the three most common types of fraud that HSBC UK has reported seeing recently.

The bank also said it has revamped its free HSBC fraud and cyber awareness app, which is available for people to download regardless of whether they are customers.

The app provides warnings about new scams being spotted as well as information on recognising and reporting scams.

David Callington, HSBC UK’s head of fraud, said: “We are able to give real-time warnings through push notifications, information and education, to help more people protect themselves and their hard-earned money from these criminals.”

The bank also said more than 3.5 million customers have subscribed to its Voice ID technology, using their voice as their telephone banking password. Voice ID has identified 50,000 attempted telephone frauds since it was introduced in 2016.

HSBC UK highlighted the three most common scams it has seen across cards and payments in the six months from November 2021 to April 2022:

1. Purchase scams

Fraudsters tricking shoppers into paying in advance for goods or services that are never received was the most common type of scam by volume, according to HSBC UK’s records.

The bank said it is noticing an increase in purchase scams involving falsely advertised vehicles online.

Some involve fake shipping websites that promise to look after funds for vehicles purchased abroad, and some advertise vehicles at well below market value to lure customers in. Customers are then being convinced to purchase either by putting down deposits or outright payments.

2. Impersonation scams

Criminals may impersonate an organisation such as a bank, retailer or a utility provider.

HSBC UK said it is seeing a rising number of impersonation scams originating from calls from fraudsters posing as Amazon.

It is also seeing scammers impersonating HSBC UK’s fraud team and calling customers to say their account is at risk.

Usually this is after the fraudster has sent a scam text impersonating another organisation – for example, Royal Mail – and requested a small payment which requires the customer to input their account details.

The fraudster tells the customer they need to move funds to a “safe account”, which is usually an external bank account controlled by the fraudster or, increasingly, a crypto currency trading platform.

Mr Callington said: “HSBC UK will never ask you to move money to a safe account or disclose your one time passcode. Likewise we would never ask you to delete your mobile banking app. If someone asks you to do any of these things, hang up right away, it’s a scam.”

3. Investment scams

These often involve the purchase of fake bonds or cryptocurrency. HSBC said they incur bigger losses for its customers than any other type of scam.

The average loss per case is £14,173.

A typical investment scam could start out with a message or call out of the blue about an investment opportunity that is “too good to miss”, and contact can be made with the victim over months, sometimes years, to extract as much money as possible, HSBC UK said.

The bank said it is increasingly seeing scams that involve trading in genuine companies but through a fake intermediary. The victim can be shown an app or website listing their investments and returns, only to lose contact with the intermediary further down the line.

Mr Callington added: “With the cost of living sky-high, it’s no surprise people are lured in by schemes promising low risk for high returns. The general rule is that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

“Customers can check if a company is authorised via the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) website – if it’s not regulated we wouldn’t recommend investing.”

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