Money Scams And How To Avoid Them

Istockphoto © A lady worried after accessing bank details online Pic: Istockphoto

Last year in the UK consumers lost a total of £354.3 million through scams, so it’s definitely wise to keep up with the latest information to help protect your finances

The Financial Crime Team at Hitachi Personal Finance have listed the most common scams to look out for, and top tips to avoid them…

Phishing emails

 Most people are used to deleting spam emails but what about those sent from your bank or a service that you use? Scammers are becoming increasingly clever and are now cloning legitimate emails in order to send ones that look identical to those from big names.

Top tips to avoid being scammed by phishing emails:

  1. Never click on any links or open any attachments from suspicious emails, as this is how the scammer accesses your data.
  2. Double check the address that the email has been sent from, malicious emails will often have an obscure email address (although be wary as some do appear genuine at first glance).
  3. Report any emails you are unsure about as a phishing attempt, and delete from both your inbox and your deleted folder.
  4. If an email from a particular “company” seems suspicious, e.g. from a bank you’re not a customer with, contact the company to verify whether it’s real or fake.

Phone scams

Phone scams, disguised as cold calls or even calls from companies you are a customer with, are on the rise with reported volumes increasing every year.

Often during the summer months, scammers will cold call or email, pretending to be a travel company, offering low prices on holidays to get hold of your personal info and bank details.

Lady giving credit card details over the phone Pic: Istockphoto

Pic: Istockphoto

Top tips for avoiding being scammed over the phone:

  1. Never disclose any personal information to anyone asking you to make a transaction over the phone and hang up if they are insistent or rushing you to make a decision.
  2. A genuine bank or organisation will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, full password or to move money to another account for “safe keeping”.
  3. Only give out your personal or financial details to use a service that you have given your consent to, that you trust and that you are expecting to be contacted by.
  4. If you’re unsure, hang up immediately and contact your bank using the number on the back of your card or statement.
  5. If it looks too good to be true, it usually is. For holiday related calls, research the company using ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) and ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) databases and ask friends if it’s something they’re familiar with.


Taking money out of a cash machine is something we probably all do and ATMs are usually safe to use. However, it pays to remain vigilant as you may not know you’ve just been scammed until it’s too late.

Lady hiding pin number at an ATM Pic: Istockphoto

Hide your PIN number Pic: Istockphoto

Skimming cards is a firm favourite amongst scammers as it’s so easy to do. It involves devices being attached to cash machines that can skim your card and access data. Alternatively the device will retain your card, not release your cash and when you walk away, if you have not adequately shielded your pin, it will have been recorded on a hidden camera, therefore allowing the scammers access to both your card and PIN.

Top tips to avoid ATM scams:

  1. When using a cash point, remain vigilant and don’t use it if it looks like it has been tampered with in any way.
  2. Keep your bank’s emergency contact details to hand, so that if a machine does keep hold of your card, or if you believe your details are at risk, you can contact your bank straight away, whilst still at the machine.
  3. Do not attempt to remove the device from the machine as criminals have been known to attack victims who tried.

Social media

Recent research shows that 21 people are defrauded every minute due to sharing too much information on social media.

Woman typing social media post Pic: Istockphoto

Top tips to avoid social media scams:

  1. Think about what you’re sharing and who can see it, especially if your profiles aren’t set to private.
  2. Double check the background of your photos for any private info e.g. letters, bank cards or driving license. Fraudsters can follow your posts and piece together your personal information over time leading to possible identity theft.

Job scams

A recently reported scamming method involves victims being approached by a “recruitment firm” who have identified them as being an ideal candidate for a job, with the offer of an interview.

During the process of organising the interview, their personal details are requested to be uploaded to the “candidate website”, including a request for bank details, to allow salary payments to be arranged.

These details once completed, are then used by the scammer to make personal loan applications in the victim’s name without their knowledge. The loan proceeds are paid to the victim’s bank account, following which the recruiter advises them that unfortunately someone else’s salary has been paid to their account in error and request they send the money back (to the scammer’s bank account).

To avoid job scams, never give your bank details to a recruiter. The employer will only need your bank details when you start the new job, and the HR representative at your new company will request these.

What to do if you are a victim?

If you become the victim of any scam, the Hitachi Financial Crime Team advises you report it as quickly as possible to Action Fraud, and contact your card or account provider to let them know and freeze your money. They will also help you in recovering any loss of funds.

Vincent Reboul, Managing Director at Hitachi Personal Finance comments,

It is more important than ever to be vigilant when it comes to sharing your personal information, with new scams taking advantage of people every day. Even if something seems legitimate, always make sure you double check, and never share your personal details if you feel like the call or email is suspicious.

“It is always better to be safe than sorry, and with these types of scams having increased by 16% from 2017 to 2018, it is important that people follow our simple tips to avoid falling victim to such crimes.”

For more information on protecting your money from scammers, visit:

Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.