Please be aware that there have been reports of a number of different scams linking to the Covid-19 pandemic. See our blog post for the latest trends and helpful advice on how to keep your money safe.

Authorised Push Payments (APPs) are a common method used by fraudsters to get their hands on your money. These scams can be very sophisticated and can have a devastating impact on victims.

To put it simply, an APP is when someone tricks you into making a payment you believe is genuine, but the account that you pay actually belongs to the fraudster.

Sometimes fraudsters will impersonate someone you already have a relationship with (like your bank, a business you’re expecting to make a payment to or a friend/relative), contact you out of the blue impersonating a genuine company (like a loan/investment company or HMRC) or pretend to have goods or services for sale that ultimately never exist.

There are many methods used by fraudsters which is why we may sometimes ask you to identify the reason for your payments. We’re not just being nosey, we want to make sure that we’re keeping your money safe!

To show our determination to tackle fraud, we have made a commitment to adhere to the Authorised Push Payment (APP) Scams Voluntary Code, a new industry code that introduces new standards for minimising the number of APP scams happening and reducing their impact on customers.

Starling has also introduced Confirmation of Payee, a new process that adds additional checks when you pay someone. This extra level of security confirms that the name on the account is who you think it is.

As a personal customer I am sending money:

+To a friend or family member

Impersonation scams

Fraudsters can use a range of techniques to trick you in to believing you’re speaking to someone you have known for a long time and then requesting that you send money, often under the pretence that it’s an emergency. If you receive a message out of the blue from a friend or family member asking that you send them money, it’s worth trying to contact that person via a different method. Email and social media accounts can get hacked, so it may be advisable to call or text, just to make sure it’s really them.

Romance scams

Scammers may build a relationship with you after initiating contact on either social media or dating websites. Having established your trust, they may then request money - plausibly by requesting funds for travel/accommodation, or asking for financial assistance to help a family member. Always be wary of approaches from someone you have only ever met online, especially those with a limited profile, supplying contradictory information or that have very few photographs, which could have been taken from another person's profile.

+To purchase goods or services

Purchase scams

We’re all partial to a spot of online shopping - but you should always be careful when you’re using an online marketplace and not a recognised retailer. Fraudsters will sometimes advertise high value items such as designer watches, vehicles and games consoles/the latest tech on social media or online marketplaces - remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!! You may also be pressured into making a payment quickly and advised that you are unable to make a payment by card or Paypal which offer more protection to the payer. You should always be cautious about sending money to an individual you haven’t met, for an item you haven't seen - especially if the website doesn’t offer payer protection or you are asked to bypass normal payment methods on that website.

Advance fee scams

A fraudster may request that you send money in order to release a larger sum of money. For example, this could be for a distant relative’s inheritance, a loan(AC1) or a lottery win. Always be wary if someone contacts you out of the blue as this could be a scam. Alternatively, another form of advance fee fraud could be someone who requests you make a payment for goods or services in advance, for example paying a property rental deposit or a deposit on a car. Always make sure you try and view the item in person and/or meet the person providing the service prior to sending any funds by Faster Payment or do some research online about the person you are paying.

Invoice redirections

You may have already been provided with a service from a legitimate supplier and have now received contact requesting a payment to new bank account details. You may have been expecting to provide deposit funds to your solicitors for a house purchase, but they now need you to pay to a different account. Scammers can hijack email addresses or call from reputable numbers, posing as genuine organisations. If you’re unsure whether the new payment details are genuine, contact the company first through a trusted channel.

+To pay an invoice, bill or fine

Invoice redirections

You may be expecting to make a payment for services or goods from a legitimate supplier and have now received contact requesting a payment to a new bank account. Scammers can hijack email addresses or call from reputable numbers, posing as genuine organisations. If you’re unsure whether the bill or invoice is genuine, contact the company first through a trusted channel before making a payment.

Advance fee scams

In some instances, a scammer may ask for a payment for goods or services in advance of you receiving them. This could be for things such as building work or for a property rental deposit. Always make sure you try and view the item in person and/or meet the person providing the service prior to sending any funds, or do some research online about the person you are paying.

HMRC/law enforcement scams

If you receive a call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from HMRC or law enforcement and they advise that you have an outstanding bill/fine to pay, or that your assistance is required with a police case, please be cautious as this may be a scam. You may be pressured into making a quick decision, threatened with legal action or be told not to tell anyone about the call. If you’re ever approached in this way, hang up the phone and attempt to call back on a number found on a trusted website to confirm if the call is legitimate. In the event that you received the call on a landline, make sure you call back from a different device as fraudsters may keep the line open.

+To my own account or a new account created for me

Safe account scams

Have you been contacted by an individual claiming to be from your bank or law enforcement, advising that you, or your bank account, have been targeted by a fraudster? Have you been asked to move your money?

Stop: take your time to think about this request.

Whilst these individuals/communications can sometimes appear urgent and genuine, you should always remember that Starling (or any other bank) will never contact you to request you move your money to a new or ‘safe’ account. Fraudsters have been known to spoof genuine phone numbers to make the call appear legitimate. You can always chat to us in app or call us on 0800 0234 617 (or +44 (0) 207 930 4450 if you’re calling from abroad).

+For an investment

Investment scams

Investment scams are attempts to get unsuspecting individuals to hand over money in exchange for a return on their investment - often, an unrealistic one (by this, we mean high returns and low risk).

If you have had no contact with the company before, please be cautious. Social media is a common way for fraudsters to approach people with offers that might not be as genuine as they originally appear.

If you have received an unsolicited approach, via phone, social media, email or in person - you should be wary, stop and think - is it too good to be true? You should always undertake some research on legitimate individuals and companies, via the FCA Register.

The FCA also offers a “Warning List” where you can review the investment you are considering, to identify whether it is a known scam or not.

If you’re thinking about investing, you may want to seek independent financial advice from an FCA regulated firm.

Read our blog post on investment scams.

+As part of a loan application

Advance fee scam

Looking for a loan online? A loan company might request you make a payment in advance of receiving the loan - this could be for an ’insurance payment’, ’legal costs’ or for ‘security checks’. Most lenders won’t charge an upfront fee so be wary of these requests - always check the company you are dealing with is FCA regulated by checking the FCA register (and watch out for loan companies that have been impersonated!)

As a business customer I am sending money:

+To pay an invoice, bill, supplier or fine

Invoice redirections

You may be expecting to make a payment for services or goods that you have received from a legitimate existing supplier, but you have now received contact requesting a payment to new bank account details. Scammers can hijack email addresses or call from reputable numbers, posing as genuine organisations or business associates and even go as far as creating fake invoices. If you’re unsure whether a bill or invoice is genuine, contact the company first through a trusted channel before making any payments.

Advance fee scams

You may be in contact with a new business associate who asks you to make a payment for goods or services in advance, for example paying a property rental deposit or a new supplier for a service they are providing you. Always try and verify the person you are sending funds to, for example by looking at reviews online, making sure you get sent invoices, and where possible meeting in person and/or viewing the goods/premises prior to sending the money.

HMRC/law enforcement scams

If you receive a call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from HMRC or law enforcement and they advise that you have an outstanding bill/fine to pay, or that your assistance is required with a police case, please be cautious as this may be a scam. You may be pressured into making a quick decision, threatened with legal action or be told not to tell anyone about the call. If you’re ever approached in this way, hang up the phone and attempt to call back on a number found on a trusted website to confirm if the call is legitimate. In the event that you received the call on a landline, make sure you call back from a different device as fraudsters may keep the line open.

CEO scams

In its simplest form, CEO fraud is impersonation of a company’s Chief Executive (or another senior colleague who can authorise payments).

This fraud usually involves an email being sent to an individual working within finance or accounts at the company, instructing a significant, urgent payment. This can be done via infiltration of the internal email system, or impersonation of the CEO.

During early 2016, it was reported that UK businesses had lost more than £32 million as a result of CEO fraud.

+To purchase goods or services

Purchase scams

You can often find great deals by shopping online - but you should always be careful when you’re using an online marketplace and not a recognised retailer. High value items such as vehicles, machinery, goods or services can be listed at low prices - remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! You may also be pressured into making a payment quickly and advised that you are unable to make a payment by card or Paypal which offer more protection to the payer. You should always be cautious about sending money to an individual you haven’t met, for an item you haven't seen - especially if the website doesn’t offer payer protection or you are asked to bypass normal payment methods on that website.

Advance fee scams

You may be in contact with a new business associate who requests you make a payment for goods or services in advance, for example paying a property rental deposit or a new supplier for a service they are providing you. Always try and verify the person you are sending funds to by looking at reviews online, make sure you get sent invoices and where possible meet in person prior to sending the money.

Invoice redirections

You may be expecting to make a payment for services or goods received from an existing supplier, but you have now received contact requesting payment to new bank account details. Scammers can hijack email addresses or call from reputable numbers, posing as genuine organisations or business associates and even go as far as creating fake invoices. If you’re unsure whether the bill or invoice is genuine, contact the company first through a trusted channel before making any payments.

+To my own account or a new account created for me

Safe account scams

Have you been contacted by an individual claiming to be from your bank or law enforcement, advising that you, or your bank account, have been targeted by a fraudster? Have you been asked to move your money?

Stop: take your time to think about this request.

Whilst these individuals/communications can sometimes appear urgent and genuine, you should always remember that Starling (or any other bank) will never contact you to request you move your money to a new or ‘safe’ account. Fraudsters have been known to spoof genuine phone numbers to make the call appear legitimate. You can always chat to us in app or call us on 0800 0234 617 (or +44 (0) 207 930 4450 if you’re calling from abroad).

+To staff or business associates

Impersonation scams/invoice redirection

Fraudsters have the ability to impersonate employees, business associates or personal relations. If you receive a request for a payment to a new payee, consider if the request is in keeping with the individual. If in doubt, contact the employee/business associate/personal relation first through a trusted channel before making any payments.

CEO scams

In its simplest form, CEO fraud is impersonation of a company’s Chief Executive (or another senior colleague who can authorise payments).

The nature of this fraud usually results in an email being sent to an individual working within finance or accounts at the company, instructing a significant, urgent payment. This can be done via infiltration of the internal email system, or impersonation of the CEO.

During early 2016, it was reported that UK businesses had lost more than £32 million as a result of CEO fraud.

+For an investment

Investment scams

Investment scams are attempts to get unsuspecting individuals to hand over money in exchange for a return on their investment - often, an unrealistic one (by this, we mean high returns and low risk).

If you have had no contact with the company before, please be cautious. Social media is a common way for fraudsters to approach people with offers that might not be as genuine as they originally appear.

If you have received an unsolicited approach, via phone, social media, email or in person - you should be wary, stop and think - is it too good to be true? You should always undertake some research on legitimate individuals and companies, via the FCA Register.

The FCA also offers a “Warning List” where you can review the investment you are considering, to identify whether it is a known scam or not.

If you’re thinking about investing, you may want to seek independent financial advice from an FCA regulated firm.

Read our blog post on investment scams.

An image of a starling

Think you’ve been a victim of fraud?

Give us a call on 0800 0234 617 (or +44 (0) 207 930 4450 if you’re calling from abroad).

Things to always remember:

  • Is this offer too good to be true?
  • Is the person I’m speaking with genuinely who they say they are? Don’t be embarrassed to contact that person via a different method to be sure
  • Have I been asked to send money out of the blue?
  • Does the request sound reasonable?
  • Are you being rushed or pressured into making a decision or completing a payment?
  • Starling will never ask you to share your PIN, password or ask you to authorise a payment from your account to a new ‘safe account’.

Feeling unsure?

If you’re ever unsure whether you should send a payment or feel pressured, feel free to call or chat to us from your app - we’d be happy to talk to you .

If you believe you’ve fallen victim of fraud, or cybercrime - you can report this to Action Fraud, via their online reporting tool (or if you live in Scotland please contact Police Scotland).

Try to include as much detail as possible.

Please remember - it is a criminal offence to submit a fake report.

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