Avoid the 'growing threat' of scams

Avoid being the victim of a scam
Avoid being the victim of a scam

The threat of scams is growing - and in many cases victims are finding themselves unable to claw a penny back, a major bank is warning.

Figures released by NatWest and sister brand RBS show that more than 4,700 customers have collectively lost nearly £26 million to various scams this year so far.

On average a customer who has fallen victim to a scam has lost more than £13,000 - and in 70 per cent of cases they have been unable to recoup any of their cash.

NatWest/RBS said many customers are embarrassed to tell their bank that they have been a victim of such a scam - but if they speak up then the bank can work with the police and other bodies to prevent it happening again.

"Vishing" is the most common scam that its customers have come across and victims may be cold called by a fraudster, who claims their account has been compromised.

The fraudster then may encourage the victim to transfer their money into a "safe" account and then the fraudster transfers the money quickly out of this account, making it harder to trace.

Terry Lawson, head of fraud prevention at NatWest and RBS said: "The threat of scams is growing.

"The means by which fraudsters trick individuals into parting with their money is becoming more sophisticated, but it always ultimately depends on the individual transferring money out of their account."

He said the bank would never contact a customer asking them to transfer money.

Other common scams include:

* Investment scams. They involve an opportunity to invest in shares, property or rare goods. You may invest and never hear from the company again.

* Email impersonation or invoice fraud.

* Rogue traders who target elderly or customers who live alone and persuade them that urgent repairs are needed to their house.

Tips to protect yourself from scams:

* Your bank will not phone you up or ask you to move to a safe account. If you think your account is at risk then tell your bank.

* If something sounds too good to be true then it probably is.

* Do not be embarrassed to speak up and question what you are being asked to do.