Bank account fraud at three-year high – here’s how to protect your money

Bank account fraud has risen to its highest level in three years as both consumers and businesses have been targeted by criminals. 

Fraudulent attempts to open current accounts rose 24pc for the three months from April to June, compared to the same period in 2020.

Loan frauds jumped 63pc for the three-month period compared to the year before and fraudulent savings account applications rose 170pc, according to statistics gathered by data firm Experian.

Savings accounts seldom require a credit check when opening, giving fraudsters a useful opportunity to hide money or send it abroad.

Eduardo Castro of Experian said: “Both consumers and businesses need to be made aware of the threat that scams pose.”

A jump in fraud rates might have been down to better detection, he said, as banks used more sophisticated software to spot patterns in fraudulent behaviour. 

Mr Castro said: “Customers are also becoming increasingly comfortable using sophisticated security methods such as physical biometrics and facial recognition, and pin codes sent to mobile devices to verify their identity.”

However, even if fraudsters fail to open bank accounts themselves using stolen or invented personal details, they may use so-called money mules instead: people paid for the use of their accounts. 

Investment fraud, internet and mobile banking fraud, romance scams and advance fee scams have all risen according to the latest data from UK Finance, the trade group for banks.

To evade detection of their identities or the seizure of the cash, criminals make use of networks of these accounts to swiftly move the money.

Here is how to protect yourself:

  • Do not ignore letters or notices about new accounts opened in your name. If you see something suspicious, call your bank
  • Remember to check your statements on a regular basis for any unusual activity
  • An occasional check of your credit score is a good idea to ensure nothing has been opened in your name without your knowledge
  • Make sure your passwords are hard to guess and change them regularly
  • Keep details such as your date of birth or mother’s maiden name off Facebook and other social media
  • Be suspicious of emails, phone calls and letters purporting to be from your bank. Ring the number on your bank card to check
  • Avoid giving out your phone number where possible.
Have you been a victim of fraud? Contact howard.mustoe@telegraph.co.uk