Latest scam warnings

At M&S Bank we work hard to help you stay one step ahead of fraudsters and on this page you can keep updated about the latest types of scams.

How to avoid Covid-19 scams

Some fraudsters are trying to exploit the Covid-19 outbreak as an opportunity for financial crime by posing as trusted organisations like banks and even the World Health Organisation. 

They may pretend to offer a safe haven for your money or medical guidance. They'll then try to trick you into making a payment into a safe account, giving personal or financial information.

Typically, they'll get in touch through: 

  • Phone calls
  • Emails
  • Texts
  • Social media posts 
  • Social messaging apps

Remember, M&S Bank will never ask you for any PINs or passwords or to move money to a safe account.

Examples of fraud to watch out for

Phishing

Customers are reporting that they're receiving scam emails about insurance. Phishing is an attempt by fraudsters to 'fish' for personal information such as the security details you use for banking. They send an email to as many email addresses that they can, claiming to come from a legitimate organisation such as a bank, online payment service, retailer or similar.

Payment fraud

We've seen confirmed Authorised Push Payment (APP) scams with payment references mentioning coronavirus or Covid-19. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that the fake caller used the virus as a conversation starter. They may have used these words in the payment reference to make it look more genuine to us.

Buying and selling

Please be vigilant and watch out for scammers exploiting the demand for things like face masks, Covid-19 test kits and hand sanitiser by selling fake or non-existent products online. Only use sites you trust and be wary of requests to pay via bank transfer. Also watch out for deals that appear too good to be true – they probably are.

School closures

Some parents have received fake emails telling them their child is entitled to free school meals. Parents are then asked to send their bank details so they can get help with funding while schools are closed. Please remember, schools will never ask for your bank details via email.

Doorstep fraud

Unfortunately, there have been cases of fraudsters targeting those who are more vulnerable, offering to do their shopping or other odd jobs. This may seem like a genuine act of kindness, but fraudsters are taking money or cards and never returning. If you can, please only accept help from friends, neighbours or those you know and trust. It may also be a good idea to talk to any elderly or vulnerable family and friends to make sure they're aware of the risks too.

'Safe account' scams

This is when someone claiming to be from your bank says your account has been compromised and your money must be moved to another account. Unfortunately, people are more vulnerable to this type of scam because of the uncertainty created by Covid-19. Please remember that nobody at M&S Bank will ever ask you to move money into a safe account.

NHS workers

Criminals are targeting NHS workers with fake texts offering a goodwill payment from HMRC because of Covid-19. HMRC won't text, email or call about tax rebates or penalties so it could be a scam. Look out for bad spelling, odd addresses and generic greetings. As a rule, never click on links in unsolicited emails or texts.

HMRC

We're seeing criminals pretending to be from HMRC and offering a goodwill payment from the Covid-19 fund. Again, HMRC won't email, text or call about tax rebates or penalties so it could be a scam. Look out for bad spelling, odd addresses and generic greetings.

If you receive a message that looks like it's from HMRC, go to the HMRC website on your browser to check it's genuine.

Government impersonation scams

On 24 March, the UK Government sent a text to the public asking people to stay at home. This was legitimate. However, fraudsters are also impersonating the Government, sending texts to people claiming they're being fined for leaving their home more than once a day.

Investment scams

Be aware of scammers capitalising on current stock market volatility. They may unexpectedly contact you through emails and phone calls with:

  • an attractive investment offer on new share
  • a report on investments you already have
  • a share dealing discount

These tactics are also called ‘boiler room’ scams, as criminals will often pressure you into investing.

What next?

If you think you've been the victim of a Covid-19 scam, report it to us and also to Action Fraud. You can also visit the Take Five website for more help on protecting yourself against fraud. We also have our own scams leaflet which tells you more about how to stay safe online.

March 2020: Flybe scams

Criminals are exploiting holidaymakers following the collapse of the airline Flybe. They're trying to scam people into revealing personal and financial information.

They do this by:

  • Pretending to be an employee of the affected company
  • Asking for your bank account details to process refunds quicker
  • Offering alternative airline flights for an extra cost
  • Pretending to help with the aftermath of the collapse 

So be wary of emails, texts, letters, social media messages or phone calls offering help in reclaiming your refund from Flybe. If you're not sure about someone who's contacted you, visit the Take Five to Stop Fraud website. Remember, M&S Bank will never ask for your telephone security number or information from your Secure Key. 

If you think you may have given information to a criminal, call us immediately on 0345 900 0900 - this number can be checked against the number on the back of your card.

March 2020: Tax year scams

The end of the tax year is seen by fraudsters as an opportunity to make 'social engineering' attacks.

These can be: 

  • Scam emails 
  • Scam texts
  • Bogus phone calls

Watch out for messages pretending to be from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) saying you've received a tax rebate and asking for your account details.

To spot a scam, look for these tell-tale signs: 

  • Poor spelling and grammar 
  • Requests for confidential information such as online banking details, passwords or PINs
  • Offers of money or rewards, like lottery prizes
  • Warnings your account may be shut down unless you take some type of action 

If you get a suspicious email or text, don't reply or click on a link and don't open any attachments. If you think you're being targeted by a bogus phone call, don't be afraid to hang up.

Digital banking at home

We know that during the Covid-19 outbreak, many of you don't want to come into a branch. Our branches are either on reduced hours or closed at the moment. Our phone lines are also very busy. But if you're at home, you can still use online and mobile banking. They’re an easy way to manage your everyday banking in your own time, from the comfort and safety of your home. This means even if you’re self-isolating you can:

  • manage your account
  • make payments and transfers
  • check your balance and more

By using online and mobile banking, you can help to keep our branch and phone banking services available for the most vulnerable. If you're new to digital banking, rest assured your money and personal data is secure.