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Worrying figures show that a significant number of people do not know what a safe account scam is, and those that do said they wouldn’t know how to recognise one.

A safe account scam is where a fraudster will cold-call their victims and pose as either a bank representative or a police officer. They will usually tell the victim that their bank account has been accessed by scammers, or, if they’re posing as a bank representative, they may claim that an employee in the branch has been stealing money from customers.

They will then tell the victim to transfer everything they have to a so-called ‘safe account’ that’s been set up in their name and that they’ll have full access to it once they’ve transferred the money over. Obviously, this is not the case and it will be a bank account controlled by the scammers and once the money has been transferred it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to get it back.

The survey, compiled by KIS Finance revealed that of the 2,000 people questioned, 25.7% said that they would transfer all of their money to a so-called ‘safe account’. Worryingly, this figure rises to 47% in the 25-34 age category.

Holly Andrews, Managing Director at KIS Finance and personal finance expert, said, “Safe account scams can see victims losing their life’s savings in the space of minutes, having a detrimental effect on those who fall for it – both financially and emotionally.

“These scammers are smart – they know exactly how to manipulate the conversation and gain their victims’ trust.

“For example, they will usually ask ‘security questions’ at the beginning of the call in order to gain information such as security codes, log-in details, and bank balances. If the customer later becomes suspicious then they use this information to prove their legitimacy, relying on the customer forgetting that they gave them this information in the first place.

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“They will also spoof the phone number so even if someone was to check, their bank’s genuine fraud number and the number that’s calling them will match.
The number of people who have said that they would willingly make the transfer if they received one of these calls is extremely worrying, especially in the younger age groups where the percentages are significantly higher.

“It sends a clear message of the work that still needs to be done on fraud awareness across the finance and banking sectors. It also leads to the question of whether fraud education should be introduced at school level, and/or when young adults open up their own bank accounts for the first time.

“It’s so easy these days for anyone to open up a current account online with banks like Monzo and Starling making the process so simple and without the need to speak to a single person. More and more young adults are opting for these types of banks and very little or no information is given on the risks of fraud and how to identify the different types of scams. This is definitely an area where more fraud education can be introduced to prevent people from being targeted further down the line.

“Scammers are continuously developing their tactics and techniques to stay one step ahead, so the only way to protect customers is to teach them how to identify these scams.”

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