Brits lost £177 million to impersonation scams in 2022 – Here are 5 rules to help you protect your wealth

The first recorded incidence of fraud was in 300BC when a Greek sea merchant named Hegestratos took out an insurance policy on his ship, before attempting to sink it. Though his plan failed and ended in his untimely demise, it was the beginning of a long history of financial scams.

In the centuries since, methods have evolved and, in modern times, you may be at risk from impersonation scams. Indeed, the Independent reports that £177.6 million was lost to these scams in 2022 alone.

An impersonation scam involves criminals contacting you on the phone or by email and pretending to be a trusted organisation (bank, utility company, police force) or a friend or family member. They may then ask you to transfer funds or share personal details that allow them to access your bank account.

The methods that scammers use can be very advanced, so even if you are especially vigilant, you could still be at risk.

Fortunately, there are some simple ways to recognise a scam, and five basic rules you can follow to protect yourself.

How to spot an impersonation scam

Impersonation scams can be difficult to identify because criminals are able to clone phone numbers so calls appear to come from a trusted source, or recreate emails so they look indistinguishable from those sent by the real organisation.

But luckily, the tactics used by scammers may give them away. Common indicators of an impersonation scam include:

  • Urgent requests for financial information or payments, often with time pressure
  • Messages from friends and family members in need, often stranded abroad or needing medical assistance
  • Being asked to follow a link in an email
  • Being asked to transfer funds into a different account to keep it safe from scammers
  • Being asked to provide personal information as part of a police investigation.

If you notice any of these things during an interaction, proceed with caution and do not share any information. You may also want to bear in mind that methods are always changing, so generally be suspicious of anybody encouraging you to share information or move funds, regardless of their reason.

5 rules for protecting yourself from impersonation scams

It is good practice to be vigilant about scammers and approach any request for information or funds with suspicion. There are also five simple rules you can follow to better protect yourself from the most sophisticated impersonation scams.

1. Never share account information

Usually, banks and businesses will not ask you to share personal information by email or over the phone. As such, you should treat all requests to do so as potentially fraudulent and either end the call or ignore the email.

You can then contact the organisation yourself to check what their policy is and confirm whether the request was legitimate or not.

2. Always check with the person or organisation directly before sending funds

It’s a good idea to question any request to send funds as there is a strong chance that it may be a scam. If the request comes from your bank, utility company, or another organisation, end communication right away and contact them directly.

Most UK banks offer the “159” service launched by Stop Scams UK, which can help you determine whether you are talking to a scammer or not. You can use this by ending the call and dialling 159 to connect to your bank directly and securely.

You may well find that the request is fraudulent because it is very rare for organisations to contact you on the phone or in an email and ask you to transfer funds.

If you receive a message or email from a friend or family member asking you to transfer funds, it may be a good idea to call them and speak to them to confirm first, even if it appears to come from their phone number or email address.

3. Do your own research

Often, five minutes of research can help you identify a scam, particularly if somebody sends you an email. Start by searching online for the company name and the content of the email you received. In some cases, you may find information from other victims of the same scam.

It can also be useful to know about the latest tactics that criminals use, and the Action Fraud newsletter is excellent for this. It provides regular tailored updates about specific scams that are likely to affect you, as well as advice on protecting yourself.

4. Log in to accounts directly – don’t click links in emails

Scammers often use “phishing emails” that encourage you to click on links which then give them access to personal information on your computer. You may find that they pressure you to act immediately by logging into your account through the email, but it is good practice to avoid this.

Instead, use your normal method for logging into an account, no matter how legitimate the email appears. If the email does turn out to be real, you can still take the necessary action once you have logged into your account.

5. Report the scam immediately

Even when you follow all these rules, advanced scammers could still catch you out. Fortunately, you may be able to reclaim lost funds if you report the scam to your bank immediately. They may either recover the funds from the scammers or reimburse you themselves, although this is not always guaranteed.

It may also be a good idea to report the scam to Action Fraud so they can help to prevent more scams in the future and give you advice on your next steps.

Get in touch

If you are concerned about your wealth, we can give you advice on ways to protect it and potentially help it grow.

Please contact us on or call 01904 655 330. As an award-winning financial advice company that was a 2022 VouchedFor Top Rated firm, you can be sure that we’re a bona fide company providing excellent advice and high-quality service.

Please note

This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.


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