Protecting yourself

Hints and tips on how to avoid scams and keep safe

If you think you've been a victim of fraud, act promptly.

If you have M&S Bank card, call 0345 900 0900. Also, let any other credit providers know straightaway.

How to protect yourself


There's lots you can do to help protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud.

Start by following these simple steps and be aware of the various ways that fraud can be carried out.

Keep passwords safe

Never tell someone your password or PIN – or write them down. Don't be tempted to use passwords that can easily be guessed such as children's names or birth dates. Choose a combination of numbers and letters of upper and lower case to strengthen your password. And don't use the same password for other online accounts.

Always log out

If you're in a secure (padlocked) part of the M&S Bank website, always click on the log out link when you've finished. And if other people use your computer, close the internet browser too.

Don't give away too much personal information

Social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, are becoming a particular target for cyber-criminals wanting to gather small pieces of personal information published online. If you allow it, people can see your date of birth, mobile number, address, information on your family and potentially much more. If enough personal information is collected, it could be used to steal your identity.

Instead try to limit how much personal info you give away online. And check the privacy settings on each site that you use to make sure you only share personal information with people you trust.

Keep your cards safe

  • Remember to sign your card as soon as you receive it and keep it in a safe place
  • When using your card, shield your card number and PIN so that others around you can't see it
  • Never hand your cards over to anyone who says they are coming to collect them. We would never ring to say we were coming to pick up your cards, and neither would the police
  • If you have additional cardholders, ensure they are also aware of these tips
  • Report a lost or stolen card immediately

If you have any questions or concerns about the security of your M&S Bank cards, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us on 0345 900 0900.

Keep your computer's software up-to-date and watch out for bugs!

Using the latest software version makes your computer more secure. Always register your software for support – and subscribe to alert and update services.

Protect your mobile phone and devices

Your mobile phones and devices can contain personal information – you may use them for internet banking or online shopping, for example. To make your devices more secure, you may want to consider:

  • setting up and using a security PIN code.
  • adjusting your device’s settings so it automatically locks if you don’t use it for five or ten minutes.
  • thinking about what personal information and passwords you store on your devices.
  • keeping the operating system on your devices up-to-date.
  • phone call and text message scams.
  • whether it’s a good idea to click on links in text messages.

Understand how criminals use the internet

Criminals are in it for the money. They can make money online by:

  • asking you for personal information. Take a moment to stop and think before you part with any personal information – only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • sending spam with bogus deals and products. If an offer appears too good to be true, it probably is.
  • taking over your computer and using it to attack other people’s computers.
  • using viruses to display unwanted adverts on your PC.
  • stealing your passwords and bank details using viruses, fake emails and fake websites.

Criminals can be good at making their emails and websites look legitimate, but here are a few ways to spot fake ones:

  • The website doesn’t display the padlock symbol in the address bar when you log in.
  • Poor design, bad spelling or random use of capital letters.
  • Odd looking email or web address, perhaps similar to well-known brand names.
  • If it’s an email, is it addressed to you or ‘Dear Friend’?
  • Are you told you have a limited time to respond? Criminals will pressure you to act quickly if they can.

Protecting yourself and your money takes a bit of knowledge and the right software. A good starting point is to download Rapport software  and use an up-to-date browser, which we refer to on this site.

Look after your paper statements

Criminals can steal people’s identity by accessing personal information from different sources, including paper bank statements. Store paper documents securely and, if you decide to throw them away in the future, make sure they’re shredded or ripped up before you put them in the bin.

Be careful when using public Wi-Fi

Avoid using online banking, social networking, sending emails or making purchases on public Wi-Fi or internet café/public library computers. Cyber-criminals can set up fake Wi-Fi hotspots that appear to be legitimate, but which allow them to track your activity once you’ve logged onto the Wi-Fi.

Often public computers don’t have good enough protection software installed to recognise and quarantine malicious software (malware) that could record your log-in details if you enter them. It’s also important not to save any personal information (such as usernames or account details) on a public computer – you don’t want anyone to be able to access them after you’ve finished!

Install anti-virus software

Internet viruses are bad news. They steal personal information, can take over your PC or even use your computer to attack other people's. An up-to-date anti-virus software should protect you against all of them.

There are many effective anti-virus software programs to choose from – both paid for and free – ask someone you trust what they use or do your research on the internet. Set the software to scan files when you access them – and to download updates when you go online.

And don't forget, anti-virus software isn't just for computers, so make sure any other devices you use for surfing the web are also protected.

Use IBM Trusteer Rapport

This is free security software that protects you when you’re banking online. You can use it at the same time as your anti-virus software and it helps protect you from online identity theft and fraud.

Trusteer Rapport keeps you safe by:

  • getting rid of viruses that may already be on your computer
  • stopping new viruses from being downloaded
  • telling you that you’re using the bank’s real website, and not a fake one
  • locking down the link made between your computer and your bank

Why not install IBM Trusteer Rapport to make online banking safer? 

Download IBM Trusteer Rapport

Download IBM Rapport for Mac OSX, Mountain Lion or later >

Uninstall remote access software

Software is available to allow genuine people to remotely access your PC (IT companies for repair, for example). Fraudsters can also use this to remotely access your PC and act on your behalf. If you do not need to use this software, remove it from your PC.

Stay safe on social media

Cyber-criminals now regularly use social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to target people with the latest fraud scams.

Did you know? 

Questionnaires on social networking sites might seem harmless and fun, but these quiz questions can be similar to security questions used to access your personal accounts – such as the name of a family pet or your home town – and your answers could be used to hack your accounts. 

You may enter online competitions to win prizes, but fake competitions can be used by criminals to gather personal information about you. Even a competition shared by a friend could be a scam, so don’t forget to check before entering and providing any details.

Criminals also hack into social media accounts and impersonate individuals to trick friends and family into providing their bank details or sending them money. If you get an unusual request from a contact, it’s best to check with them directly to confirm it’s genuine.

Here are some ways you can stay safe on social media:

  • Double-check privacy settings on social networking sites to control who sees what
  • Only connect with people you know
  • Limit how much personal information you give away online
  • Use a different password for each of your social media accounts
  • Remember to log off when you’re done on social networking sites

Follow our useful tips

  • Keep your information up to date – from time to time we may contact you to request information or documents from you.
  • Check your bank and credit card statements as soon as you receive them – and report any transactions you don't recognise.
  • Keep a note of when your bills and statements should arrive in the post. If you don't receive a statement, tell the organisation straightaway.
  • Get regular updates of your personal credit file to see which financial organisations have accessed your details. You can get copies of your credit file from a credit reference agency:
    Experian
    Call Credit
    Equifax
  • Be wary of unsolicited approaches by phone, especially if you are asked to provide any personal information.
  • If you are suspicious or feel vulnerable, don't be afraid to end the call and refuse requests for information.
  • M&S Bank will never call you unexpectedly to ask you to generate a security code on your M&S PASS or ask for your PIN number.
  • Never share your security details with anyone else.

What next?

Report it

If you think you've been the victim of a scam, report it to us as soon as possible by calling
0345 900 0900. You should also report it to Action Fraud (link opens in a new window).

Take Five

You can also visit the Take Five (link opens in a new window) website for more help on protecting yourself against fraud.

Stay safe

We also have our own Financial Fraud leaflet which tells you more about how to stay safe online.