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How to avoid being tricked by scams

Are you ready for whatever the fraudsters have up their sleeves?

Understanding the art of deception


We've teamed up with professional magician Troy von Scheibner to see what fraud scams have in common with an illusionist's tricks.

As a professional magician, Troy's aim is to entertain using a specialist set of skills. However, these techniques can also be used by fraudsters to fool people.

Fraudsters are playing mind games on us, designed to gain our trust and pressure us into handing over personal and financial information. But by understanding how their tricks work, we can make sure we don’t get fooled. Check out the video to see what happened when we hit the streets with Troy.

How to spot fraudsters' tricks

  • Someone contacts you out of the blue, by call, text or email

  • They claim to be from a trusted organisation, like your bank, utility provider or police

  • They can sound genuine, as they may already have gathered information about you online

  • They often put you under pressure to do something without you having time to think it through properly

  • Calls, texts and emails may appear genuine but their actions and requests are not

Things to remember

Only buy from secure sites which are legitimate. If you’re not sure, try to find out more about the retailer and see if they’ve got any real reviews.

Look for the padlock sign on the top left of the webpage. The padlock gives you confidence that your connection is secure and can’t be intercepted. Make sure it’s there when entering personal and bank details to make a payment. However, this symbol doesn’t mean the website you’re making a payment to is safe. You’ll also need to look at the web address to help identify fraudulent sites.

Watch out for:

  • subtle misspellings
  • additional words or characters
  • other irregularities

When buying online, only use secure ways to pay, such as a debit or credit card

You should also check the cancellations and returns policies before you buy.

How do I protect myself?

There are many different types of scam out there. Most of them start with someone contacting you out of the blue, often claiming to be from a trusted organisation.

Here’s what to do if you’re contacted unexpectedly by phone, email or text message:

Stop -  if it’s unexpected, be suspicious. Take a moment to stop and think before parting with your personal or financial information.

Challenge - could it be fake? It’s OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests or simply say ‘No’.

Protect – don’t click on unfamiliar links or call numbers in texts or emails. Instead, check they’re genuine by going to the official website.

Remember, there are things your bank would never ask for, such as:

  • the transfer of funds to a different account for 'safekeeping‘
  • one-time passcodes either generated securely or sent by email or text
  • online banking details
  • your card’s 4-digit PIN
  • your credit or debit cards, cheque books or cash

Please contact us immediately if you think you've been a victim of a scam.

Remember to use our hints and tips on how shop safely in the run-up to Black Friday and Christmas

If you’re worried you’ve been scammed already, get in touch with us here:

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We’re working hard to protect you against fraud – but there are lots of ways you can help to protect yourself too. For more information on other types of fraud, how to protect yourself and what HSBC is doing to protect you, visit our fraud guide.

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