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The world we face at the moment is constantly changing and so are the types of attempted card payment scams we see at Starling Bank. We take fraud very seriously, and have implemented different rules and preventative measures to help keep your money safe.

Unfortunately, fraudsters are using techniques that are so complex and deceptive that the victim often may not realise they’ve been scammed until they next check their bank account. In order to help you stay one step ahead of the fraudsters, we’ve compiled a list of some common types of card payment scams, and tips for things to look out for when you sense any sort of issue. 

Coronavirus scams

Fraudsters often use the coronavirus outbreak as a platform to try and obtain people’s personal details. 

You may receive texts, emails or phone calls claiming to be from Starling, the National Health Service, government agencies, the World Health Organisation or other service providers. There are a range of coronavirus themed scams. Fraudsters will often pose as these entities to offer things like medical guidance and may try and trick you into giving personal or financial information. 

Stay safe tips

One coronavirus related scam involves fraudsters phoning households, pretending to be from the NHS Test and Trace Service, and asking for payment for testing kits. The NHS Test and Trace Service will never ask for your bank details or PIN and won’t ask for any payments. The genuine NHS is free.

If someone calls and claims to be from Starling Bank, you can always say you’ll call them back and then use the telephone number on the back of your Starling card. It is good practice to wait at least 5 minutes before trying to call back, to ensure the line has fully cleared.

One Time Passcode (OTP) scams

If Starling Bank does ever contact you, we’ll never ask for your One Time Passcode, which is the numeric code you’ll sometimes receive when making transactions online, for example when shopping.

In a case of attempted fraud, you may receive a call or text from someone claiming to be from Starling’s fraud team and the conversation may go something like this:

  • The fraudster will claim they are calling from Starling Bank.
  • Often they may ask for you to provide personal information for security, which you believe should only be known by yourself and your bank. 
  • They will say that an unusual transaction is due to leave your account and they have caught it just in time.
  • When you confirm that you didn’t make this transaction, they will offer to stop it by sending you an SMS. 
  • While this is happening the fraudster will in fact make the transaction, that they just warned you about, in the background. 
  • They will confirm the purchase and prompt your OTP to be sent to your phone.
  • They will then ask you to read or type in your OTP in order to stop the transaction from going through, whereas in fact they are doing the opposite. 
  • Once you’ve given this code to the fraudster, they are able to succeed in making their transaction. 

Stay safe tips

Starling will never ask for your One Time Passcode. If at any time you feel suspicious, you can hang up the phone and contact Starling Bank directly, using the number on the back of your card. It is good practice to wait at least 5 minutes before trying to call back to ensure the line has fully cleared.

Investment scams 

If it sounds too good to be true, unfortunately it usually is. In the current digital age, there is a growing trend of ‘get rich quick’ schemes from the comfort of your own home - but the website you’ve just signed up for may not be exactly as it seems.

You may be targeted for investments in high risk unregulated instruments such as Cryptocurrency. The trader will promise you high returns and say they can demonstrate this by you providing them with a small nominal amount and they will provide you with a returning profit. But don’t be fooled.

What might then follow is pressure from the trader or company for you to send more money to maximise your return. At this point, it’s often the case that the ‘trades’ you’ve been making stop returning profit, because the market prices have ‘dropped’. 

However, these trades aren’t real and the money you have sent has never been actually used to invest or trade. The trader or website will then provide you with some complex or binding Terms & Conditions that will then prevent you from withdrawing any of your money. 

It is important that when you deposit any money into a trading account, you are happy with the T&C’s attached to the company. Once the money has been deposited, you’ve effectively agreed to them. 

Stay safe tips

You should check that anyone you’re thinking about investing through is registered with the FCA first. Use their scam protection tool to make your own assessment on any money making opportunity.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

Always take time to think things through

The above examples are some of the many types of card payment scams that are currently in operation in the UK. It’s important that you stay vigilant when sharing your card or personal details. Always take the time to think things through very carefully and if you’re in any doubt, please contact Starling Bank. More information on how to stay safe is available on the Take Five anti-fraud campaign website.

Always remember that Starling will never ask you for your card PIN (the four digit number you use to authorise transactions in store) or your online One Time Passcode (OTP). This is the secure numeric code you’ll sometimes receive via SMS when making a transaction online, for example when shopping.

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