With an increasing number of people going online to shop and use online financial services, particularly during the ongoing pandemic, online security has had to improve, which means that cyber criminals have become more sophisticated. 

In 2020 we saw the rise of new COVID-19 online scams, such as ‘smishing’ texts which offer payments and false threats of fines for breaching rules and restrictions. 

While many banks and other digital platforms are strengthening their security, adding multi-factor authentication and behavioural biometrics, as you can see from the table below, we still lose billions each year to online or telephone scams.

So, what should you do if you’ve been scammed online? How do you get your money back from scammers? On this page, we’ll explain everything you need to know.

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How can I tell if I’ve been scammed?

Some people don’t even know they’ve been scammed online, particularly if you don’t check your statement regularly or you don’t have access to online banking. However, if any of the following applies to you, you may have fallen victim to fraud:

  • Unusual or unauthorised transactions on your credit/debit card statement 
  • Entries you don’t recognise or can’t explain on your credit report 
  • Bills or invoices for things you haven’t purchased or subscribed to 
  • You are refused credit despite having a good credit history
  • You apply for benefits but are told you’re already claiming them 
  • Post you’ve been expecting hasn’t arrived 

If any of these apply to you, take a moment to check whether it’s a simple mistake. For example, you may have paid a deposit for a booking or a service, or you may have forgotten about a pending transaction or even cash back you’ve requested in-store.

What to do if you’ve been scammed online

If you think you’ve been scammed online and you’re wondering what to do, try not to panic. This happens to thousands of people and the likelihood is you’ll be able to recover your funds. Here are some things you should do immediately:

  • Tell your bank or building society
  • Call the police
  • Speak to Action Fraud
  • Get advice from the National Cyber Security Centre
  • Change your other passwords
  • Update your antivirus software

Tell your bank or building society

By getting in touch with your bank or building society immediately, they’ll be able to provide you with the forms you need to complete to get your money back. Your bank or building society should also arrange for a replacement card to be sent to you, step up your account security and provide any additional information that might be useful. 

Call the police 

If you’ve transferred money to a scammer in the last 24 hours, or if you believe a scammer is attempting to get your details via telephone calls, call the police immediately on 101. 

Speak to Action Fraud

Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime. They cover England, Wales and Northern Ireland and can be contacted online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Get advice from the National Cyber Security Centre 

You can visit the National Cyber Security Centre website for information about the next steps available to you, with tailored information for individuals, businesses, large organisations, sole traders and even cyber security professionals. 

Change your other passwords 

While this step won’t be useful if you believe your entire device has been compromised, if you’ve fallen victim to a credit or debit card scam, it’s a good idea to change your passwords for other services, accounts or subscriptions if they are the same or similar. 

Update your antivirus software

Whether or not you currently subscribe to an antivirus program, if you think you’ve been hacked, you will need to update your current setup.

Types of online scams

There are many different types of fraud, with criminals constantly coming up with new ways to capitalise on current circumstances or events. The most common types of online scam include the following: 

Vishing 

Vishing is a type of telephone scam that often involves a scammer asking you to give them your personal details. They will usually tell you there’s an issue with your account, whether it’s your broadband, credit card or a utility, and then ask for further information to resolve the issue for you. Professional institutions will never contact you like this, so hang up immediately if this happens. 

For example, at Raisin UK we will never ask you for your password. If you forget your Raisin UK Account password, our customer services team will send you a letter containing a PIN that will allow you to log back in and change your password.  

Phishing 

Phishing is a type of email scam in which fraudsters may pose as a reputable company known to you and ask you to send them information about yourself that they then use for their gain. If you have doubts about an email, it’s always best to contact the institution they’re claiming to be from, not through the number or email address the scammer has contacted you on.

This is what a phishing email might look like:

Example of phishing emailExample of phishing emailExample of phishing email

Malware

Malware is short for “malicious software”, and as the name implies, it’s a type of software or application designed to make your device do things you don’t want it to do. You might download malware by clicking a malicious link that might appear in an online advert or email. Some malware can track what you’re doing on your computer or device, store any information you input and send that information to hackers and scammers.

If you suspect your computer or device is infected with malware, you can take it to your local PC experts to have it professionally cleaned and restored. Signs of malware on your computer include:

  • Slow, lagging and unresponsive device
  • Excessive pop-up adverts and spam emails
  • Frequent crashes
  • Unusual messages pop up frequently
  • Your security solution has been disabled

New types of scams during the coronavirus pandemic

Cyber criminals were, of course, quick to prey on the unprecedented global situation presented by the coronavirus crisis, and throughout 2020, new online scammer schemes were revealed

COVID-19 related payment scams 

These included smishing texts offering payments related to COVID-19, as well as scam emails supposedly from government departments informing recipients of their eligibility for a tax refund and offering financial support due to COVID-19.

Coronavirus holiday scams 

These online scams included fake caravan and motorhome listings, false refunds for cancellations and cheap travel deals.

Online shopping scams

Scam emails and texts supposedly from parcel delivery providers informing recipients of undelivered parcels to obtain sensitive information.

This chart from Age UK explains the most common coronavirus scams:

common coronavirus scamscommon coronavirus scamscommon coronavirus scams

How to get your money back after being scammed online

While different banks, payment services and card providers have different policies when it comes to getting your money back after you’ve been scammed, all financial institutions are under an obligation to protect your money

If you’re not satisfied with the response you receive on your fraud case, you have a right to challenge your provider’s decision by making an appeal or a formal complaint. You can usually find out how to do this by visiting your bank or building society’s website or going into a branch.

What to do if you have problems getting money back after a scam

If you experience problems with your bank or another provider while trying to recover your funds, you can raise a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), who will assess the situation and make a decision on what to do next. This could result in you being awarded compensation. 

How did you pay?

Deciding on the best approach for dealing with a scam will often depend on how you made a payment. The most common forms of payment and how you can recover your funds are explored below: 

Debit card

If you used your debit card to pay for a scam, you may be able to get your money back from your bank or building society under the chargeback scheme. This scheme isn’t a legal right, which means there’s no explicit guarantee that you will get your money back, but many major banks and building societies subscribe to it. The chargeback scheme covers all debit card transactions for purchases less than £100, although exact rules may vary between the American Express, Maestro and Visa networks. 

You can find out more about the chargeback scheme here or by contacting your card provider or bank. 

Bank transfer

Known as an authorised push payment (APP) scam, a bank transfer scam occurs when you transfer money from your bank account to a scammer’s. You might do this knowingly or unwittingly, depending on the circumstances. 

Many people are affected by bank transfer scams, so don’t feel embarrassed if you’ve been caught out and get in touch with your bank immediately. Tell the bank what happened and the bank account number your money has been transferred to, so they can try and recover your funds.

You may also be able to recover your funds if your bank is signed up to the Authorised Push Payment Scam Code.

Credit card

If you’ve paid for goods or services with a credit or debit card, you have greater protection if things go wrong thanks to:

However, your eligibility for making a claim depends on the type of scam you have been victim to.

For example, an instance where you could use one of the above methods would be when you paid for goods or services and it turns out these were either never available or the ‘seller’ no longer exists. 

Credit cards provide the greatest protection, as you can claim against your card provider under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Card Act, where the product or service you bought cost more than £100 and not more than £30,000. If it cost less than £100, you can claim under the chargeback scheme instead. 

PayPal 

There are many PayPal scams out there, with fraudsters using convincing fake PayPal pages to deceive you into supplying your details. If you have been scammed via PayPal, you’ll want to look into the PayPal Seller Protection Policy to see if you’re covered. 

It’s worth noting that PayPal offers a robust resolution process. As long as you pay someone as a seller, rather than transferring money to someone as if they were a friend or family member, you and your money are well-protected. Paying someone as a seller also means you don’t run the risk of sharing your credit/debit card or other financial information with a potential scammer.

Cash

Unfortunately, it can be tricky to recover your funds from cash transactions. It’s a similar scenario for money transfer wire services, such as MoneyGram and Western Union. 

You can, however, choose to contact the police or Trading Standards to see if they are able to assist you. You may also want to seek emotional support to share your experience with others who have suffered the same. 

What if I didn’t authorise the payment?

If there is a transaction on your card you know nothing about, you can claim from your bank or building society as an unauthorised transaction. It’s critical you do this as soon as you notice it. 

This also applies where you have knowingly handed over your card to have a certain amount taken from it, but more than that amount has been taken without your permission or by someone else. You can claim for this extra amount, too. 

The Payment Services Regulations and the Banking Conduct of Business rules place obligations on banks and building societies to refund your money in these circumstances.

How to recover from being scammed

Losing your money to fraudsters can have an emotional effect and impact your well-being as well as your wallet, as it’s a serious invasion of your personal privacy. It’s important to remember that it’s not your fault, and there are people you can talk to who will understand what you’re going through. 

Mind: Visit their website or call their confidential support line on 0300 123 3393 (Lines open 9 am – 6 pm Mon to Fri) 

Victim Support: Visit their website or speak to someone with complete confidentiality on 0808 16 89 111 (lines open 24/7) 

You can also access further support if you’ve been scammed by going to Citizens Advice.

How to protect yourself against online scams

There are several ways you can protect yourself against online scams and ensure it doesn’t happen to you in the future. 

Be cautious online and on the phone 

When using a financial services website or buying anything online, look for the padlock symbol in your website browser’s URL bar and ensure that the ‘http’ connection changes into ‘https’, as this means the website is secure. You should also understand how to check if a website is legit, so you’re aware of the warning signs. 

When it comes to any unsolicited calls or emails, remember to take your time and hang up when the caller creates a sense of urgency, as professionals will never do this. 

For further tips, insights and even examples of online scams, visit the Take Five website.

Register with Cifas

Cifas is the UK’s largest cross-sector fraud-sharing organisation and offers membership packages for both individuals and organisations. If you sign up to Cifas, applications you make for financial products or services will be flagged to assist with fraud prevention.   

Monitor your post 

Particularly important if you move house, protecting your mail ensures your sensitive details don’t end up in the wrong hands. Always shred old bills and notify your bank or building society and any other providers when moving house. 

Get insured 

While not many insurers will protect against fraud, you can get insurance for your mobile phone or business to cover certain losses sustained as a result of fraud. 

Use online banking apps  

Online banking apps are more secure than logging into your bank or building society’s website on your computer. This is because apps are thoroughly vetted for any malicious malware, whereas websites can be hacked more easily. 

Find out more about the security of online banking.

Is online banking with Raisin UK safe?

At Raisin UK, we follow strict processes and protocols that ensure your money and personal details remain secure. The Raisin UK website is protected by industry-standard SSL Secure Sites Certificates, which means the data you share with us is completely protected. 

We always adhere to the latest security standards, meaning we have: 

  • A strong firewall that prevents unauthorised external access to our information
  • Multi-level encryption and identification systems 
  • Password protection with automatic log-out after 15 minutes of inactivity
  • Transactions are restricted to one nominated account that you provide 
  • A secure personal mailbox with message encrypting 

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