How to detect an online banking scam

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Ask the expert at Smith & Pinching about how to detect cyberfraud - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I’ve had an email from my bank saying that I should take my money out of their ISAs and put it into another type of investment account which will pay a lot more interest – as much as 12pc, they claim. The email says they will invest my money into high return bonds from Japan and China – countries that are seeing huge growth now they have the virus under control. All I have to do is withdraw the money, fill in their form and then make a payment into the new account. I have about £120,000 in ISAs. Should I do this? I have until the end of January to do it.

Jeremy Woodruff is a Director and Chartered Financial Planner Picture: Smith & Pinching

Jeremy Woodruff is a Director and Chartered Financial Planner Picture: Smith & Pinching - Credit: Archant

Jeremy Woodruff of Smith & Pinching responds:

Please, do not do this with any of your accounts. I’m certain that this is a scam aimed at making you hand your money over to fraudsters.

The email you have received may well look like it came from your bank but fraudsters are very sophisticated these days and can easily replicate the look and feel of your bank’s branding by using the appropriate corporate colours and copies of the logo. They send out the same email to thousands of people hoping that it attracts the attention of just a handful.

There are several clues here that point to fraud. Firstly, the old adage “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” is as valid today as ever. The returns they are promising are far higher than you might hope for, particularly in the current market.

Secondly, your bank is unlikely to promote this type of investment: banks do offer bond investments but not “high return bonds” from markets in the Far East. The third clue is that you are being put under pressure to sign up by a set deadline. Your bank is unlikely to put that sort of pressure on you.

With any communication that appears out of the blue claiming to come from a source such as your bank, if you do want to find out more, it is critical to check by contacting the sender by your normal route – so, do not use the contact details in the communication you’ve received or press reply.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is running a campaign – ScamSmart – to combat financial fraud: you can find out more or report a scam at

My final point is to get independent advice – ideally from a Chartered Financial Planner – before taking any kind of action with significant savings and investments.

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Any opinions expressed in this article do not constitute advice. The value of an investment and the income from it could go down as well as up. The return at the end of the investment period is not guaranteed and you may get back less than you originally invested.

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