Financial fraud has become very sophisticated and these crimes can have a devastating impact on victims. Even if the customer gets the money back from their finance provider, the organised criminal gangs which perpetrate these frauds may still profit from the proceeds.

We have advanced methods for deterring, detecting and preventing financial crime - but we also consider it our responsibility to educate customers on the types of scams we know to exist, and how you can spot them - to help protect yourself and your loved ones.

To show our commitment to tackling fraud, we are signing a new industry code, the Contingent Reimbursement Model, that introduces new standards for minimising the number of APP scams happening and reducing their impact on customers.

What is APP fraud?

Authorised Push Payment Fraud, or Push Fraud (APP), frequently involves a fraudster using social engineering (impersonation) to request a payment.

This is commonly achieved by impersonating bank staff, law enforcement officers or a legitimate company you have an existing connection with - by issuing a payment demand via telephone, intercepted mail, compromised email or similar.

These often appear like legitimate requests for payment, perhaps one you'll have been expecting (rennovation or dentistry work), or one designed to apply concern or pressure (bank fraud department or government body), requiring an immediate decision or action.

The very nature of these payments is almost instantaneous, so it's vitally important that you take some time to consider your actions - banks aren't always able to recover funds sent to a fraudster.

Below are some examples of APP Fraud, alongside information on other types of scams to be aware of.

Read our blog post on APP fraud.

How do I spot APP fraud?

I’ve been asked to move my money, to keep it safe

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.

I am buying something online

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.

High value items can be listed at low prices, in order to maximise income for the fraudster - remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!!

Fraudsters will sometimes request payment, or a deposit, up front for high value items such as designer watches, vehicles and games consoles/the latest tech. 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.

Read our blog posts on staying safe online.

I’ve been asked to invest

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

If you have received an unsolicited approach, via phone, 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.

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.

Several people sat on a train looking at their phones.

I’ve been asked to send (or lend) money

From time to time, we all need a helping hand - but, you should always be cautious when being asked to send or temporarily ‘lend’ money, to anyone, ensuring you’re comfortable with the situation.

Under no circumstances should you send or temporarily ‘lend’ money to someone you’ve not met in person, for example, someone that you’ve met online - no matter how long you’ve been in contact.

There are several ways unscrupulous individuals may try to deceive you via this method, for their own financial gain. Here are just a few examples:

  • Romance scam: Fraudsters may try to contact you (or someone you know) through social media or dating websites/apps, using false profiles - in order to establish a relationship, allowing them to rely or prey on an emotional attachment.

This is commonly driven by the intention to 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 strangers 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.

  • Advance fee fraud: A fraudster may request that you send money in order to release a distant relatives inheritance or a lottery win - always be wary of such approaches.

Alternatively, another form of advance fee fraud could be someone you’ve met online, requesting to borrow some funds temporarily in order to release some form of wealth (such as property), which they are offering to share.

Remember - if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Read our blog post on avoiding financial fraud, including romance scams.

Money mules

Another type of APP fraud involves 'money mules'. Money mules are used by criminals to distribute the proceeds of crime. If you’ve been asked to transfer money between accounts, or receive and withdraw money, on behalf of a third party - you could (perhaps unwittingly) be a money mule.

You should never offer or agree to perform any of the above, you could be funding serious organised crime by doing so - money muling carries significant consequences, including potential imprisonment.

Read our blog post on money mules.

I’ve been asked to make a payment on behalf of my company, by the CEO

In its simplest form, CEO fraud is impersonation of a companies Chief Executive (or, sometimes 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 £32 million had been lost, in Britain, as a result of CEO fraud.

I’ve been asked to make a payment on behalf of my company to a supplier

If the invoice is from a supplier, or relates to goods or services that you’re unaware of - you should be cautious. Fraudsters issue fake invoices to companies, to request money for services that have not been provided, these can appear legitimate.

Undertake research to satisfy yourself that the invoice is legitimate, before you make a payment.

If the payment is to a long standing supplier, but requests a change to account details, you should contact the supplier to confirm before making any further payment.

Fraudsters will attempt to divert frequent/regular payments to suppliers into their own accounts, this tends to only be highlighted when the supplier contacts the company regarding the non-payment, by which time it could be incredibly difficult to locate or return any previous payments to the fraudsters account.

What you can do to protect yourself

Our friends over at TakeFive have a website full of fantastic tips and content to help you protect yourself and your loved ones.

If you’ve been contacted by Starling Bank and you’re unsure about the legitimacy, hang-up and contact us directly using the number on the back of your card, or you can reach us via in-app chat. We’ll be happy to help and confirm if the contact was genuine

Starling staff will never, under any circumstances, ask you to share your PIN or password. You shouldn't disclose these to anyone.

Read our blog posts on staying safe online.

Several people on their phones in a group

Stop and think. Take Five to stop fraud.

  • Look after your personal details. A genuine bank will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your security details.
  • We’ll never ask you to move your money to a new account – and you should ignore anyone who does.
  • Think before you click and don’t open links in an unexpected email or text.
  • Be cautious. If you see an advert or an offer that seems too good to be true – it very often is. If something feels wrong, use another phone number to contact the source and verify the legitimacy of the contact.
  • Stop and think. Money-mule criminals could try to recruit you via social media. Remember, handling money that’s been obtained fraudulently is a crime.

Victims of fraud

If you believe you’ve fallen victim of fraud, or cybercrime - you can report this to Action Fraud, via their online reporting tool. Try to include as much detail as possible.

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