How to avoid being a fraud victim

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Q. A few friends of mine have had money withdrawn from their account without their knowledge. How can I make sure this does not happen to me and what can I do if it does?

A. When you use your bank account, bank card or cheque book, you need to make sure your information and identity is secure. This will help to protect you from fraud.

Keep bank details safe

You should be careful when you using your bank card or Personal Identification Number (PIN).

You are expected to take all reasonable steps to use your card and PIN safely, and stick to agreed terms and conditions.

You should:

- not allow anyone else to use your card, PIN or other security information

- take all reasonable steps to keep your card safe and your PIN and other security information secret

- check the cash machine for anything unusual with the machine and be aware of people standing close by

- remember that your bank or building society will never ask you to tell them your PIN

- never write down or record your PIN or other security information

- always learn your PIN and other security information, and destroy the notification as soon as you receive it

- if you use an internet banking site, always type the bank address into the web browser and never follow an e-mail link and then enter personal details.

Lost or stolen cards and cheque books

You must tell your bank or building society as soon as possible if:

- you lose or have your card or cheque book stolen

- you suspect someone else has used (or tried to use) your account or card without your permission

- someone else becomes aware of your PIN number or your internet or telephone banking security details.

Your bank or building society must have a way for you to report these problems at all times.

Banks and building societies usually have a telephone number for reporting lost or stolen cards and cheque books. You can find this number on your statement, or on their website. You can also usually report a lost or stolen card or cheque book at your local bank or building society branch.

Your bank or building society should then arrange for a replacement card or cheque book to be sent to you.

If you’ve not authorised the withdrawal, your bank or building society must refund the money immediately.

If there is evidence to suggest you acted fraudulently or were negligent, they can delay the refund while they carry out further investigations. However, the investigation must be carried out within a few days.

You will be responsible for any unauthorised withdrawals which are made before you tell your bank or building society about losing your card or chequebook.

However, this will only be up to a maximum of £50 (some banks waive this), unless you have acted fraudulently or been negligent.

Your account has been used without permission

An unauthorised transaction on your account is money going out of, or into your account, that you didn’t know about and haven’t allowed.

If you think there has been an unauthorised transaction on your account, you should tell your bank or building society as soon as possible. This should be no later than 13 months after the transaction.

You will be legally responsible for any unauthorised withdrawals which are made before you tell your bank or building society about losing your card or chequebook. However, this will only be up to a maximum of £50 (some banks waive this), unless you have acted fraudulently or been negligent.

You will not be liable for any unauthorised withdrawals after you have told your bank or building society, unless you have acted fraudulently or been negligent.

An example of acting fraudulently or being negligent would be if you kept your pin number written down with your card.

If there is an unauthorised transaction on your account, you may be a victim of identity theft.

Identity theft

Identity theft is where someone you don’t know gets hold of your personal details, PIN number, telephone or internet banking security details and uses them to access your account.

If you suspect you have been a victim of identity theft, you should act quickly:

- contact the bank straight away. Keep a record of all conversations and copies of any letters sent or received

- report the matter to the police, and get a crime reference number