Banks have many security features in place to help keep your money safe, however, criminals will always aim to find loopholes to get around these features.

In this blog, we look at how scammers try to get you to accept card transactions that require approval within the Starling app. These are not payments that you’ve made, but ones that the criminals want to make.

Stolen card information

The first step of this scam is for a criminal to steal card details. These may be obtained during data hacks of genuine organisations or as a result of getting people to reply to fraudulent emails or texts (known as phishing or smishing) - messages that look like they come from a genuine company. They could even steal your physical card.

There are some things you can do to help protect your personal and financial information.

  • Always be cautious of emails and texts containing links that ask you for payment information, or for you to login to an account
  • Always find the website for the company that contacted you by searching for it in Google (not by clicking a link “they” might send to you)

Safe Account scams

One method fraudsters use, once they have your card details, is to call and try and make you believe that your bank account is not safe. Phone numbers of genuine companies can be spoofed, meaning a call can look like it’s coming from a legitimate organisation, when in fact it’s not.

You’re told to approve a card payment to send your funds to a ‘safe’ location to protect your money. They could even tell you that the payment showing within the app is ‘fake’ to ‘test your account security’.

A genuine bank or company would never ask you to move money or to make a payment to keep your account safe. Instead, they would take steps to secure your account for you.

Always give yourself time to think. Much better to hang up the call and consider. Then call the 159 number to check if the call was genuine.

Refund scams

Another method used to trick individuals into approving a card payment in their app, is to call and impersonate an online shop. They may tell you that your card has been used to make a purchase. When you say that you didn’t use your card for that purchase, the scammers will say that in order to process a refund, you must approve the payment showing in your app.

In both cases, what makes these scams appear genuine is that the criminal knows your card information, and will have the details to set up a payment (see section above ‘Stolen card information’). By approving the payment in the app, you’re actually allowing the payment to leave your account.

How the criminals try to get past security

The scammers are trying to get around a security feature called 3DSecure, which helps protect you when you’re making online card purchases. 3DSecure works by asking you to verify some card transactions using your Starling app, so that we know it’s you who’s making the payment. The criminals try to get around this by calling people and tricking them into approving the card transaction.

What can I do to protect myself?

If someone contacts you out of the blue and instructs you to approve a card payment in your app, this is a scam. As mentioned above, hang up, reject it and call us on 159 straight away.

You can lock your card by pressing on the card lock/unlock slider which is located under the ‘Cards’ tab in your Starling app. This should prevent any money being taken.

Only accept card payments that you have requested, otherwise you could be at risk of losing your money.

If you think you have been a victim of fraud contact our 24/7 customer service team via the Starling app as soon as possible. You can also use the phone number on the back of your card. Visit our friends at Take Five for more on how to avoid scams.

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