Be aware of the latest fraud scams, including information on how some fraudsters are trying to exploit the Coronavirus outbreak. Find out more

Common scams

If you do think you have been the victim of fraud, act promptly. If you have an M&S Bank card, call 0345 900 0900. And notify any other credit providers straightaway.

Fraudsters can use a range of different techniques to gain your information, cards or money, some of the most common current scams include:

  • Phishing and smishing
  • Vishing
  • Courier scams
  • Identity theft
  • Romance scams
  • Bitcoin scams
  • Payment diversion scams

Phishing and smishing

Phishing and smishing scams are used by fraudsters pretending to be from M&S Bank, or other financial institutions, and involve sending unsolicited emails (phishing) and text messages (smishing) to lure unsuspecting people into handing over their personal details. These emails or text messages often contain links to fake websites or online banking login pages that request you to enter your personal details – this could be your password, card details or memorable information. By entering your personal details on these sites, you are providing a fraudster details necessary to access your account.

Look out for the following signs of a phishing email or smishing text:

They often contain spelling errors or random capitalisation (eg bAnk 0nline with M&s Bank).

They often ask you to click on a link to confirm or validate your security details.


'Vishing' involves a fraudster phoning a potential victim and posing as someone from a bank or building society, the police, HMRC or another trusted, legitimate company. The call is made either to persuade or coerce the victim into transferring money from their account to another account for "safekeeping" or "holding", to withdraw cash and hand it over "for investigation" or to try to get financial information, such as credit or debit card details (including PIN), bank account details and personal information such as full name, date of birth or address. Then they use this information to gain access to their victim's finances.

Courier scams

Some fraudsters will phone on your landline claiming to be from your bank, credit card company or the police, and tell you that your account has been compromised. They may say that a courier needs to collect your cards or ask you to purchase high value goods or foreign currency for collection. They may also ask you to write down your PIN and hand it over as well. To add credibility the fraudster may even advise you to cut the card in half.

Identity theft

Identity theft happens when fraudsters get enough information about someone's identity (such as their name, date of birth, current or previous addresses) to commit identity fraud.

Identity fraud happens when someone uses your personal details without your knowledge or consent. They might use the information to get a credit card or loan. You may only find out that you've been a victim of identity theft when you start to receive bills for things you haven't ordered or received.

Romance scams

Romance fraud happens when victims are deceived into ‘false’ relationships by fraudsters who aim to steal their money or personal information. Romance fraud is typically carried out by criminals using fake profiles on online dating sites.

Bitcoin scams

Bitcoins are increasingly becoming a more common target for fraud and scams, due to the difficulty in tracking the funds. Fraudsters can employ a range of tactics including; creating fake exchanges to purchase Bitcoins, fake giveaways to secure personal details or Ponzi schemes where victims are offered a guaranteed return in exchange for an upfront deposit.

Payment diversion scams

Payment diversion scams are where victims are intending to pay a genuine party but have been contacted by a fraudster and given the fraudster’s bank details to send funds to. For example, a fraudster masquerading as a conveyancer during a house sale and instructing the victim to transfer funds to a fraudulent account.