5 Tips to Protect Yourself from APP Scams

According to trade body UK Finance, £583.2 million was lost to authorised push payment (APP) scams in 2021. This is a 39% increase compared to the number of APP scam reports in 2020. 

 

Holly Andrews, Managing Director at KIS Finance and personal finance expert, outlines 5 tips for consumers on how to protect themselves from APP scams. 

 

“An APP scam is when a scammer persuades somebody to transfer money to them by posing as a trusted contact. This could be someone that you know, your bank, or a well-known company or organisation. 

APP scams are particularly dangerous as victims are led to make payments via bank transfer rather than a credit or debit card. There have been huge steps forward in the banking industry over the last couple of years to do more to protect victims of APP fraud. However, there is still far less protection, and chance of getting your money back, if you authorise a bank transfer rather than make a debit or credit card payment.

An APP scam can come in many forms as scammers use hundreds, if not thousands, of different tactics to trick consumers into sending them money. A common method is when the scammers pose as someone you know and sends an email or text message saying that they’re in trouble and need you to send them money. Scammers also impersonate organisations such as the NHS, banks, HMRC, charities and also companies like Amazon, PayPal, and Royal Mail. 

Scammers can get in touch via email, phone call, text message, Whatsapp, and social media so it’s important to always stay vigilant and know the warning signs of a scam. 

 

  • Never act upon any request for money that you receive via an unsolicited email, text, Whatsapp message, social media message, or phone call. If it appears to be someone you know, perhaps a close relative or friend, and this is a very out of character request, then get in touch with that person via your usual contact method and speak to them. 
  • Scammers often used hacked social media accounts and make contact with that person’s friends list or followers, or they will spoof their phone number or email address. Never respond to the email or message that you’ve received and never send them money without checking first. 
  • This rule also applies to organisations such as HMRC and the NHS; they will never get in touch to ask for personal information or bank details. 
  • When you are purchasing goods and/or services online, never make a payment via bank transfer. Using a credit or debit card will give you far greater protection if things were to go wrong. Once you’ve authorised a bank transfer then it will become much more difficult to get your money back if you haven’t taken the proper precautions.
  • Since the end of June 2020, every major bank in the UK has been implementing Confirmation of Payee. This means that when you set up a new payee or try to make a bank transfer, your bank will check that the person’s name and the bank details match. If a warning message pops up saying the details don’t match then do not send the payment as it’s very likely that you are not sending money to who you think you are. Also, if you ignore this message and continue with the payment then you may find it very difficult to get your money back if things go wrong.
  • Scammers will often try to trick people by sending out fake invoices via email. They may pose as a well-known company or organisation, but sometimes scammers pretend to be someone that they know you have contact with. This could be through hacking your email account or by information that they’ve found online, for example on social media.

 
In most cases you should simply ignore any invoice that has been sent to you unexpectedly, but if it does appear to be from someone that you have done business with and you are expecting an invoice, then make sure you check the details thoroughly. Make sure that it has been sent from a recognised email address and also that the bank details match the payee when you make the payment. If anything looks suspicious, then contact them using the details you already have on file (don’t respond to the email).”

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