Also known as vishing

Telephone scams

How do I recognise a telephone scam?

Telephone scams or `vishing` is a scam used by fraudsters where they call you pretending to be someone else such as your bank, the police, or any other official company. They do this to trick you into giving out your personal details, such as your card, PIN or card reader codes.

Sometimes you may get a 'warm up call' where no information is discussed. This is to set the scene for a later call where you may be asked for information.

How to protect yourself from telephone scams

Never transfer any money at the request of an unexpected caller over the phone.

  • If you receive a suspicious or unexpected call purporting to be from the bank, end the call and call us back using an independently verified phone number, such as a contact number from our website.
  • Beware of phone spoofing where criminals use sophisticated technology to make the number calling you appear like it's a genuine number, not their actual caller ID.
  • Never give your full PIN or online/telephone banking login details to anyone, even a caller claiming to be from your bank or the police. If you are asked for this information, end the call immediately.
  • Never give out your mobile banking app activation codes and passcode. If you are asked for this information, end the call immediately.
  • Remember fraudsters also use techniques to hold your phone line open. When you try to dial out to verify the caller, the fraudster may stay on the line, play a fake dial tone and claim to be the person you're trying to contact. To avoid this, use a different phone line to verify the caller where possible. If not, try calling a friend or family member first to make sure your line is clear.
  • Never be persuaded to download any software or visit a site because someone on the phone has told you to.

Examples of telephone scams

  • Fraudsters might have done enough research about you to make you believe it’s a genuine call: “Is that John Smith speaking? Just going to confirm your personal details. Your address is … and your number is …”

  • Don’t trust a stranger who tells you to “act fast”. Fraudsters create a false sense of urgency so you have less time to think about what’s going on: “We want to get this sorted for you as quickly as possible, so if you can follow these instructions immediately...”

  • Fraudsters want to appear trustworthy, to make you feel as though they’re on your side. This is so that you’ll follow their instructions. This is sometimes known as a social engineering scam: “I know how stressful this must be for you, so I’m here to help and do everything I can to fix this.”

  • They might use words like “suspicious” to frighten you, without actually giving you any specific information about what’s happened: “We’ve detected some suspicious activity on your account.”

  • You may be told that there’s a ‘safe account’ for you to transfer your money to. This safe account can’t be trusted – you could be transferring your money straight to them: “We’ve set up a safe account where you can transfer your money.”

  • You might be asked to install software to protect your information. This gives the fraudsters access and control over your computer screen, so they can see you enter your financial details, like your card number or your online banking passcode: “Installing this protective software will prevent fraudulent activity on your account. Please install this and then log in to your online banking.”

What to do if it happens

  • If a call seems suspicious end it immediately
  • Don't be rushed on a call. When you're forced to act quickly, it can be easy to misjudge a situation
  • Don't be afraid to hang up if you feel you're under pressure
  • Treat this scam as you would with fraudulent emails or SMS's. Report any suspicious incidents right away

If you've been the victim of fraud

Tell us straight away if you've given any details out or think you may be the victim of fraud or a scam.

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