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Banking – security and fraud

About banking security and fraud

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.

On this page, you can find out how to keep your financial and personal details secure, and what to do if there is a problem.

You can find out:

For more information about banking, see Banks and building societies.

Keeping your bank details safe

A bank card might be a credit or debit card. You should be careful when you use your card or Personal Identification Number (PIN).

Your card issuer will send your card and PIN number to you separately.

When you have received your PIN, you may change it. You can usually do this at a cash machine. You can also choose not to be issued with a 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
  • 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
  • contact your bank if you don't receive a bank statement or other expected financial information
  • 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 special telephone number for reporting lost or stolen cards and cheque books. You can usually 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.

Your bank or building society must be able to give you written confirmation of your report of a lost or stolen card or cheque book up to 18 months after you made it.

If you think there has been an unauthorised withdrawal on your account because of a lost or stolen card or cheque book, you must tell your bank or building society as soon as possible.

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, unless you have acted fraudulently or been negligent.

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

For more information about what to do if you lose a cheque in the post, see Cheques.

Your account has been used without your 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. An example is something that has been paid for with your credit card that you didn't know about, and haven’t given your permission for.

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, 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. For more information, see Identity theft.

Transactions that have not been carried out correctly

Examples of transactions that have not been carried out correctly are where the amount of money going out of your account is wrong, or the money is sent to the wrong place.

If this happens, you should tell your bank or building society as soon as possible. This should be no later than 13 months after the transaction.

It is up to the bank or building society to show that the transaction was genuine and there was no breakdown in procedures or technical difficulty.

If you've not authorised the transaction, 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.

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 you have with them and copies of any letters sent or received
  • report the matter to the police, and get a crime reference number
  • check with the credit reference agencies whether any applications for credit have been made in your name. If they have, you can ask to have the information removed from your file
  • if you suspect that someone has got hold of your details by stealing your post, or has fraudulently applied to get mail redirected from your address, you should contact the Royal Mail Customer Enquiry Number on: 08457 740 740
  • contact CIFAS, the UK's Fraud Prevention Service at www.cifas.org.uk. For a small fee they will make sure that anyone applying for credit in your name is automatically double-checked.

For details of credit reference agencies, see Being refused credit in Credit.

Further help

On Adviceguide

For more information about using banks and building societies, see Banks and building societies.

You may also find the following Adviceguide information helpful:

Borrowing

Help with debt

Mortgage problems

The Money Advice Service

The Money Advice Service is a free, independent service. Their website has lots of useful information about banks and banks accounts.

For more information about bank accounts, go to www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

For more information about keeping your information safe, go to www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

CIFAS

CIFAS is a fraud prevention service used by financial companies and public authorities to share information about fraudulent activity.

For a small fee, they will make sure that anyone applying for credit in your name is automatically double-checked. For more information, go to www.cifas.org.uk.

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