Banking – security and fraud
Contact your bank or building society straight away if you're worried someone might have access to your account. For example, if your:
card or security details have been lost or stolen
statement shows payments you don't recognise
card has reached its limit or account has gone into overdraft - and you weren't expecting it
Check your bank statement or the bank's website for the phone number to call for reporting security issues - or go to their branch in person.
If you haven't had money taken from your account, your bank or building society will still take action to protect your account, for example by cancelling your card or changing your security details.
If money has been taken from your account
This is known as fraud and is illegal.
When you contact your bank, they'll take action straight away to protect your account so no more money can be taken. For example, they might cancel your cards or cheque book and send you a replacement.
You should also report the crime to the police through Action Fraud. They'll log it and give you a crime reference number.
Telephone: 0300 123 2040
Textphone: 0300 123 2050
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Your call is likely to be free of charge if you have a phone deal that includes free calls to landlines - find out more about calling 030 numbers.
If you've received a scam email, text or phone call you can report a scam.
If someone used your name to open new accounts, get credit or buy services
This is called 'identity theft'. If you start getting bank letters, bills or letters from debt collectors that you know nothing about, this might have happened to you.
You should contact your bank straight away and let them know. Keep a record of all conversations you have with the bank and copies of letters to do with the fraud. The bank will investigate, take action to protect your accounts and refer the crime to the police.
If you think someone has applied for credit in your name, for example because you've had letters about loans or credit cards you didn't apply for, you should also contact the main credit reference agencies. Explain you've been a victim of identity theft and ask them what credit accounts or services are on your file. Tell them which ones you didn't apply for and ask for the information to be removed.
The credit reference agency will contact those companies listed on your file to sort out the accounts that were wrongly opened in your name.
You should contact all 3 agencies as each one might only have part of your file. You can contact the following:
You can also ask the credit reference agency to add a password to your file - this is called a ‘notice of correction’ password. The credit reference agency will ask you for the password if you apply for credit.
If you think someone has got your details by stealing your post, or by getting mail redirected, contact the Royal Mail Customer Enquiry Number on 03457 740 740.
Getting your money back
Your bank should refund any money stolen from you as a result of fraud and identity theft. They should do this as soon as possible - ideally by the end of the next working day after you report the problem.
The bank can refuse to refund you if they find you acted fraudulently or were ‘grossly negligent’ - for example, if you shared your pin or password with someone else.
If the bank won't refund your money, you'll only be able to get it back by taking the person who stole it to court.
If you sent money to a scammer
It might be harder to get your money back if you sent money to someone because of a scam - for example, if you paid a fake invoice or bill. This type of scam is known as an ‘authorised push payment’.
Most banks have signed a voluntary agreement to refund you if you’re in this situation. You’ll have to show:
you followed any security warnings from you bank
you believed the transaction was genuine
you weren’t being careless when you made the payment
If you’re worried you were being careless because you fell for a scam, it’s still worth asking your bank for a refund.
If you’re not happy with the response
If you’re not happy with how your bank or credit card provider dealt with the fraud, you should make a complaint.
If you’re still not happy, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman on their website.
Protecting your money
If you think someone is calling to trick you into giving them money or your personal details, hang up and call 159. This is a secure service that connects you directly with your bank.
Calls to 159 are usually charged at the national rate - it depends on your provider.
There are things you can do to limit the risk of becoming a victim of fraud. Check your bank or building society's website for advice on how you can make your account more secure.
You can also:
get tips on how to keep your money safe from fraudsters on the Action Fraud website
get advice on how to prevent fraud on the Take Five website
find out how to keep your online banking details secure on the Financial Fraud Action UK website
get advice on how to shop and make secure payments online from Get Safe Online
Page last reviewed on 18 March 2021