06 Jul 2021 • 7mins • Serena

Money scams: how to avoid falling into the trap


Money scams are on the rise. If you use the internet or have a mobile phone, chances are, you’ve received a dodgy call, email or text asking for your details, at least once.

Scams can happen to anyone, at any time and they can be easy to fall for – especially as criminals are increasingly using new and sophisticated ways to trick people. To help you stay vigilant and safe, we’ve put together a guide to the latest scams.

What are the different types of scams?

Authorised Push Payment (APP) scams are one of the fastest growing types of fraud. Usually, a fraudster contacts you over the phone, by social media, email or text message and tries to trick you into transferring money to them. You think you’re making a payment to a trusted organisation, but you’re actually giving your money to a scammer.

The most common APP scams are:

A purchase scam where you transfer money to someone’s account for what you believe is a genuine product, but as soon as the payment is made, the fraudster disappears with your money

A fake call, text or email from someone impersonating a friend, someone from your company, your bank, or even the police, pressuring you into moving a large sum of money into a bank account. If this happens, speak to the person directly to see if their request is genuine

A phone call with a pre-recorded message informing you a case for tax fraud has been filed against you, asking for your personal details or payment information

An online scam where you’ve spotted the deal of a lifetime from what looks like a legit website. You’re tricked into making a quick bank transfer before the fake merchant disappears with your money. This is often the case with travel deals, last-minute flights, puppies and anything that sounds too good to be true.

Phishing emails and text messages

• A fake email impersonating Yolt, using our logo and contact details, asking you to change your personal details or to click on a link that could expose your computer to software. Avoid clicking on links from emails that look suspicious and always be careful about downloading attachments. Check the message looks legitimate, that the sender’s email address is correct and hover over the link to see what the URL is. Remember: Yolt would never ask for personal details over email or outside the Yolt App. If you’re ever in doubt, reach out to hello@yolt.com

• A fake text from a delivery company such as Royal Mail, usually with a link to a fake website where you’re asked to enter your bank details to pay a small fee for your parcel. There is no parcel – the scammers just want your bank details. Never click on these types of links, it’s better to head directly to the company’s website or to contact the company through their official channels

• A text pretending to be from the HMRC, offering you a tax refund and prompting you to open a fake gov.uk website where they’ll usually ask your bank details. It’s always a good idea to get in touch with them through one of the official channels so you can check if the text is genuine

Mobile banking fraud is where a fraudster hacks and takes control of your bank account to make unauthorised transactions. Although most financial institutions have solid safety measures to prevent anyone from accessing your account – Strong Customer Authentication, Two-Factor Authentication, for example – cyber criminals will try to trick you into revealing your log-in details.

Money mules and money laundering is where criminals will contact you through social media and promise to make you easy money in return for your bank account log-in details. Once they’ve gained control of your account, they’ll block you and use the account to buy cryptocurrency or transfer to the next money mule’s account. These scammers usually target young victims, and as the activity is happening on their accounts, they can be prosecuted for facilitating a criminal offence.

Unauthorised payment card fraud is where your card details are stolen and used to buy goods or services. You often only realise what’s happened when you see unrecognised payments coming out of your account. Measures such as 3D Secure Payments, contactless payment limits, one-time passwords have been put in place to help stop this from happening.

These are a few of the most common scams – you’ll find more on the 2021 Fraud report published by UK Finance.

How to spot a scam

- It’s unexpected: Is someone asking you for money out of the blue? Or have you got a message from someone you don’t usually speak to? Out-of-the-ordinary behaviour is often a phishing attempt

- It’s urgent: Got an urgent message? Fraudsters will try to rush you into making a payment, so that you don’t have enough time to think it over. If in doubt, take your time, talk about it with someone you trust, and contact your bank through their official channels for help

- It’s personal: fraudsters often ask for personal details such as account passwords, PIN numbers or log-in details. Financial institutions will never ask you any sensitive details outside the official channel you’ve logged into

- It sounds too good to be true: if you’re suddenly being offered a higher return or promised free money in return for a ‘favour’, be prepared to lose your money as it’s probably a scam

- There are mistakes: If you’ve been sent an email from a company that’s full of spelling or grammatical errors or the tone doesn’t sound right, it’s likely to be scam. Most companies will have a communications department to check their emails are all on brand

Still in doubt? Here’s a quick checklist

1. Have you had direct contact with this company or person before?

2. Are you expecting to hear from this company or person?

3. Does the message or email look legitimate?

4. Have you seen the product in person, or have you received proof that the product is genuine before making a payment?

5. Has this family member or friend ever contacted you this way before? Can you call them before sending money, to check it's genuine?

6. Is your instinct still telling you something’s off? Trust your gut and question the request before making a payment

How does Yolt help to keep your money safe?

The Yolt Account is a prepaid account offered by our partners PPS (PrePay Solutions), an FCA-registered financial institution. Although Yolt is not a bank, Yolt started out as an ING venture and will always meet the same privacy and security standards as a bank.

At Yolt, security is in our DNA. We strive to keep your money and data safe, and here’s how we do it.

What to do if you’ve been victim of a scam involving your Yolt Account or Yolt Card

1. Cut off any contact. If you you’ve been in contact with a scammer, cut any form of contact (hang up the phone, block them on social media and on your mobile)

2. If you think your card details are compromised, freeze your card from the in-app Settings > Card settings

3. Contact Yolt via the in-app Settings > FAQs & Contact or on 0800 130 3060 so we can try and help you recover your money

4. Report the scam to the police through Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud reporting centre.

Useful tools & resources

Check out our Yolt Card help

Follow the Take 5 Advice

Test your knowledge with the Take 5 Quiz – Are you scam savvy?

Keep the Action Fraud contacts handy

Sign up to the Which? Scam email alert

Find help with Victim Support