What to do if you have been a victim of fraud
If you think you've been the victim of fraud or a ‘scam’, the first thing to do is contact the financial business (bank building society, credit card company, pension provider) as soon as possible - the sooner they know what has happened, the sooner they can try to protect your money. You should also report the matter to Action Fraud by calling them on 0300 123 2040.
If you feel threatened
If you feel threatened, report this to the police immediately by calling 999.
If the fraudster contacts you
If the fraudster comes to your door, calls you, or sends you a message, ignore them, don’t answer the door, but keep a record of what's happened so you can report it.
Block nuisance calls
There are products to block some calls (like international calls or withheld numbers) but be careful they don't also block calls you want. Ask your phone provider if they have a service to block some numbers, or you can install a call blocking device on your phone yourself.
Ofcom has information about the different services your phone provider may have to tackle nuisance calls.
Which? has advice on blocking calls, including reviews of call blocking devices.
If you’ve given the fraudster access to your computer
Sometimes fraudsters ask to access your computer so they can control it remotely. For example, they might pretend to be from your internet provider and say they need to deal with a technical problem.
The fraudster might have infected your computer with a virus, or stolen passwords and financial information. To stay safe you should:
- reset your passwords
- let your bank know your financial information might have been stolen
- make sure you update your anti-virus software
You could also get an IT professional to check your computer.
If you transferred money to the fraudster in the last 24 hours
Tell the police immediately by calling 101. Tell your bank and Action Fraud.
If you think your account details or PIN have been stolen
Contact your bank immediately so they can protect your account.
After you’ve told your bank about the fraud, keep an eye on your bank statements and look out for any unusual transactions. Also check your credit score to see if there are applications for credit you don’t recognise.
If you think your password could have been stolen
Change your password as soon as possible. If you’ve used the same password on any other accounts you should change it there too.
Make sure you create a strong password – for example, using numbers and special characters.
Some sites let you add extra security to your account. This is known as ‘two-factor authentication’. Do this whenever you can, so that you are informed if someone is trying to get into your account.
If you think your account has been hacked
Your account might have been hacked if a fraudster has stolen your passwords. If you think this has happened, the National Cyber Security Centre has advice on recovering an account that’s been hacked.
Check if you can get your money back
If you have lost money because of a fraud, there might be things you can do to get it back.
What you should do, and whether you’ll get a refund, depends on what happened.
If there’s an unknown payment from your account
Contact your bank immediately if:
- there’s a payment from your bank account you don’t recognise – this is known as an 'unauthorised transaction'
- you’ve used your debit card and more money was taken than you expected
Explain what’s happened and ask if you can get a refund. If you’re not happy with how the bank deals with your claim, you can complain to them. Find out how to do this by checking their website.
If it's been 8 weeks since you complained, and you haven't got your money back, contact the Financial Ombudsman. You can also contact the ombudsman if you've had a letter from the bank saying it's not going to take any action. This is sometimes known as a final response letter.
If the ombudsman decides you've been treated unfairly, it's got legal powers to put things right.
If you paid by card or PayPal
If you've paid for something you haven't received, you might be able to get your money back.
Your card provider can ask the seller's bank to refund the money. This is known as the 'chargeback scheme'.
If you paid by debit card, you can use chargeback however much you paid.
If you paid by credit card and the item cost more than £100 but less than £30,000, you might be able to claim under the Consumer Credit Act - this is known as a 'Section 75 claim'.
If the item cost less than £100 and you paid by credit card, you can't use Section 75, but you can use chargeback.
If you paid by bank transfer or Direct Debit
Contact your bank immediately to let them know what’s happened and ask if you can get a refund.
Most banks should reimburse you if you’ve transferred money to someone because of fraud. This type of fraud is known as an ‘authorised push payment’.
If you've paid by Direct Debit, you should be able to get a full refund under the Direct Debit Guarantee.
If you can’t get your money back and you think this is unfair, you should follow the bank’s official complaints process. If your complaint isn’t sorted out in 8 weeks, or you get a final response letter, you can take your case to the Financial Ombudsman.
If you used a money transfer service
It is unlikely you will be able to get your money back if you’ve paid through a wire service such as MoneyGram, PayPoint or Western Union.
Managing someone else’s bank account
If you're helping someone who's been a victim of fraud, there are ways you can manage their bank account for them. You might need to do this if you want to stop payments or claim back money.
The person you're helping needs to fill in a form giving you permission to manage their account. This is known as a 'third party mandate'. Most banks have a third party mandate on their website.
To find out more, read the Citizen’s Advice page on managing affairs for someone else.
Report the fraud
Reporting a fraud helps enforcement authorities track down and stop the criminals responsible. Do not be embarrassed, the criminals use techniques to make their victims feel as if it is their fault that they have been duped or ‘fallen for a scam’, but fraud is a serious crime and fraudsters are serious criminals who prey on the most vulnerable to gain access to their savings. They will have hundreds of victims, so the sooner they are reported and caught the fewer victims there are.
When you report a fraud to Action Fraud, you are given the option for your contact details to be passed on to Victim Support, a national charity that helps those affected by crime. If you take up this option, you will then be contacted by someone from the charity and offered free and confidential emotional support and practical help.