Impersonation scams take place when a criminal contacts you pretending to be a trusted organisation such as a bank, the police, a delivery or utility company, or even a friend or family member. The scams can be very sophisticated and often start with a call, text, email or direct message with an urgent request for money or personal and financial information.
Research from the Take Five campaign found that only 51% of people always check if a request for money or personal information is legitimate before responding. This was based on a survey of 2,000 UK adults by OnePoll on 6th February and 7th February 2023.
However, the survey also found that an alarming one in five (21%) people responded to communications from a range of organisations (including delivery companies, banks, online retailers, energy companies and the police) that they later believed to be fraudulent.
Take Five’s research shows people are most likely to check if an email address is legitimate (67%), whether there are spelling and grammar mistakes (59%) or the website address is legitimate (57%). However, criminals are turning to more sophisticated ways to steal people’s money and personal information.
Three ways to protect yourself
1. Be suspicious of unprompted contact from your bank
Fraudsters can spoof telephone numbers and fake emails so it appears as if your bank is contacting you. Their aim is to win your trust and get you to reveal your personal or financial information, and even to move your money. This allows them to hack your account and commit fraud.
Banks will never call you out of the blue telling you that your account has been hacked and to move your money to a safe account. Only criminals will do this.
If someone contacts you unexpectedly to say that there has been suspicious activity on your account or that your account has been hacked, either end the call or delete the email without clicking on anything. Instead, contact your bank using a telephone number you’ve found on their website.
Remember, Triodos Bank will never contact you out of the blue to ask you:
- for your digipass PIN
- for your card number or PIN
- for your mobile app passcode
- to transfer money out of your account
- to click a link in an email or text message to our internet banking
If in doubt, call us on the number on our website, or delete the email without opening it.
For more on how we protect you, visit our fraud awareness webpage.
2. Learn more about tech support scams
Tech support scams involve fraudsters impersonating well-known companies, such as banks, and tricking people into believing that there’s a technical issue on their device or that their account has been hacked.
These scammers pretend to be from a range of legitimate providers, from banks to energy companies or internet providers. They’ll often have fake websites and helplines, so it can be very tricky to spot whether it’s genuine.
The aim for the scammer is to get control over your accounts, either by convincing you to log in to your account or to install software on your computer. Remember: your bank will never ask you to download software on your device or to take over your online account.
To learn about how to protect yourself, read our article on tech support scams.
3. Remember Take Five’s advice
Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. They spend hours researching you for their scams, hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment. Stop and think. It could protect you and your money.
- STOP: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
- CHALLENGE: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
- PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.