Our top security tips

Fraudsters are pretending to be banks, building societies, utility companies and even the police to try to trick people into revealing their financial information. They do this with fake emails, phone calls and text messages asking you to click a link, allow remote access or ring a number, all of which will connect you to a fraudster.

Help keep yourself safe from fraudsters by reducing their chances of getting hold of your information. If you are ever unsure, we urge you to take your time, don’t be rushed. A genuine organisation will never rush you to take action on your account.

Please remember that Santander International will never contact you by phone or email asking you to:

  • Give us your log in details or Visa card PIN

  • Transfer money out of your account for security reasons

  • Hand over your Visa card or cash

Protect yourself:

  • Never share a One Time Password (OTP) with another person. Not even a Santander International employee

  • Never download software or let anyone log on to your computer or other devices remotely following or during a cold call

  • Never enter your Online Banking details after clicking on a link in an email or text message

These are just our top tips. You'll find more details on keeping yourself secure, including fraud, scams and protecting yourself online below.


Scams and frauds

While fraud and scams are not new, advances in technology give criminals more ways to attempt to access your money. Getting to know the techniques they use can help you protect yourself and your money.

Fraud or scam?

In everyday use, the words fraud and scams are used interchangeably. However, we think it’s useful to use clear definitions. 

  • Fraud happens to you, scams happen with you

Examples of fraud would be having your card skimmed, identity theft and computer malware which steals your details. In these cases, you're not aware of what the criminals are doing and haven't given your authorisation.

Examples of scams would be where a criminal attempts to convince you to send them money, give away access to your bank details or launder money. Scams actively involve you as the account owner and work though engineering a situation to make you believe it’s genuine, so you give your authorisation.

If you think you've been a victim of fraud, please contact us.

Top tips for spotting a scam or fraud

If you do get a suspicious looking email or text, here's some important advice:

  • Look very carefully at emails or texts that come out of the blue supposedly from a bank or another trusted organisation.
  • An unsolicited text or email from your bank or other genuine organisation will never ask you to provide passwords, personal or financial information in a message.
  • Be extremely wary of links and attachments and never enter your banking details after clicking on a link. An email link may take you to a fake website which imitates Santander.
  • Watch out for language that says things such as ‘you must act’.
  • If you get an email or text from somebody asking you to change some payment details don’t do it without checking it out thoroughly first.
  • If in any doubt at all, don’t reply. Phone the organisation sending you the text or email on their official phone number which you can look up on their website.

Remember the following advice so that if someone contacts you pretending to be someone they're not, you can spot them easily:

  • Take time to think about what they are saying and hang up or end the conversation if you are unsure.
  • Don’t feel under pressure to act straight away – talk to family and get a second opinion if you feel uncomfortable. No genuine organisation will mind you doing this.
  • A genuine bank or organisation will never contact you unsolicited to ask for your PIN, full password or to move money to another account.
  • Don’t give out personal or financial details unless it's to use a service that you've signed up to, and you’re sure that the request for your information is directly related to that service.
  • Never let somebody talk you into downloading software, or to log on to your computer or other devices, such as your mobile phone or a tablet, remotely during or after a cold call.
  • Never agree to transfer or hand over money to anybody without independently double-checking the details are genuine.

You can find an A-Z of fraud and scams on Action Fraud's website

If you think you've been a victim of fraud, please contact us.

Common types of scams

Remote access scam

Remote access scams attempt to convince you to allow them access to your Online Banking. These are often cold calls from scammers who say that they're from telecommunication or computer companies or (for businesses in particular) an IT department or Technical Support.

The warning signs are:

  • a cold-caller says they can fix your slow computer or refund you money

  • an unexpected call from someone claiming to be from your IT department or Tech Support

  • the caller asks you to give permission for them to remotely access your computer

  • the caller asks for your banking or personal details

These callers will ask you to log on to your Online Banking, to check it's not been impacted by the fault, and then attempt to remotely access the computer to 'help' you with the problem.

Giving anyone remote access allows them to release malicious software and gain access to personal data.

Phishing - email scams

Email scams, or phishing, is one of the most popular ways for scammers to find victims. These days criminals will send out emails that can look very convincing. It might be that they pretend to be your bank or a utility company, or possibly pose as a builder or solicitor you use. They might also offer you too good to be true investment opportunities or even pretend to be someone you know.

Here are a few tell-tale signs to help you spot a phishing email:

  • the sender’s email address doesn’t match the website address of the organisation it says it’s from

  • the email is impersonal and doesn’t address you by your name e.g. it just says Dear Sir/Madam

  • there’s a sense of urgency, asking you to act immediately

  • there’s a request for personal information

  • there’s a website link which may seem like the proper company address, but on close inspection is slightly different from the real address

  • there are spelling or grammatical mistakes

Telephone or courier scam

This is where criminals persuade customers to hand over their credit and debit cards or to transfer funds from their account. This scam usually involves a call purporting to be from Santander International, the police or another financial institution.

The caller may:

  • suggest you call the number on the back of your card or 999 for verification (the scammer does not hang up and stays on the line while doing this)

  • want to arrange to have your debit and credit cards collected by a courier

  • ask you to key in your PIN using your telephone keypad

  • advise that another account has been set up to keep your money safe and urge you to transfer your money to the new account immediately

  • insist that it is necessary for you to act urgently to protect your funds

  • ask you to withdraw and handover cash along with your card as needed for forensic evidence

  • ask that you do NOT discuss the reason for withdrawal with branch staff

Romance and friendship scams

These happen when fraudsters take advantage and convince someone that they want to become friends or are romantically interested. Scammers typically create fake online profiles designed to lure you in. They may use a fictional name or falsely take on the identities of real, trusted people such as military personnel, aid workers, or professionals working abroad.

These fraudsters can spend a long time building trust, though they can all happen rather quickly. They’ll invent a reason to ask for your help using the emotional attachment they've built with you and say that they'll repay you.

For example, they might say they need help with travel costs or hospital bills. Or they may prey on your sympathies by telling you a family member or someone else they're responsible for is ill and needs money for medical treatment.

How to protect yourself

  • Never send money to someone you haven’t met in person

  • Always consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam, particularly if the warning signs listed above appear. Try to remove the emotion from your decision making no matter how caring or persistent the ‘prospective partner’ is

  • Be wary of requests for money. Never send money or give credit card details, online account details, or copies of important personal documents to anyone you have met online

Impersonation scams

Impersonation scams happen when a fraudster contacts you pretending to be from your bank, the police, or another trusted organisation to convince you to send them money. 
They’ll create a sense of urgency, a reason to panic to stop you from thinking straight. They may tell you that you’ve been a victim of an attempted fraud or had an overpayment that needs to be returned. They may even give you details of a false spend on your account which you don’t recognise, or that your account is no longer secure and that you need to take urgent action. They’ll insist that, in order to keep your money safe or prevent further losses, you need to move your money to a ‘safe’ or newly opened account.
Many fraudsters use something called ‘spoofing’. This is where someone deliberately falsifies how their contact number appears on the caller ID, messenger name, or email address to disguise their identity and try to convince you that they’re someone else. 

Fraudsters will use a variety of methods to contact you, so always be cautious and check that the request is genuine. See below for some examples of impersonation methods. 

Telephone, text, or email 

This is when someone contacts you claiming to be someone they’re not, for example your bank, Amazon, your tax authority, a parcel company, or even the police. Fraudsters want you to act urgently and try to pressure you into clicking a link, revealing your security details, or to transfer or withdraw your money. 

Social media 

Fraudsters send messages or make contact through messaging services like WhatsApp, direct messages, Facebook and any social media platform. They may pretend to be a friend or loved one in need of help.

Invoice or mandate scams

These happen when a fraudster sends a bill, invoice, or other payment request to someone asking for payment following the supply of goods or services, even a house purchase. Often, they’re received by email and will always look to be from a genuine business or contact.

The contact may even impersonate a solicitor, family member, friend, colleague, or a senior member of staff, asking for an urgent payment to be made. 

They’ll ask you to either set up a brand-new payment, or to change the account details on an existing payment. Often, they insist on urgent payment to avoid additional charges or further consequences. This is done to try and make you panic into taking quick action. 

In fact, fraudsters can intercept emails, text and social media messages, and send fake requests that look genuine. They want to trick you into paying the fraudulent account rather than the genuine company’s account. It’s often not until the money’s been sent and the customer is chased for payment by the real company that the fraud is uncovered. By this time, the funds have usually long disappeared from the fraudulent account and aren’t recoverable. 

How can you protect yourself? 

Always check the payment request, amount, and account details with someone in person or over the phone. If you’re calling them, only use a publicly available phone number, such as the one from their direct website. 

If you’re ever concerned about a request for money or information, take time to think about what you’re being asked to do and carry out any other checks you need to do until you’re happy that the request is legitimate. Never be hurried into sending money to an account.

Advance fee scams

An advance fee scam is when a fraudster asks you pay in advance for the promise of goods or services that you never get.

Examples of this type of scam could be:

  • paying an ‘admin fee’ to release funds from a loan

  • paying a deposit for accommodation which doesn’t exist

  • paying a fee to release lottery winnings

  • paying a ‘recovery fee’ to fraudsters who promise to recover money lost in a previous scam. If you have been a previous victim of a scam, you can be targeted by this specific scenario

Fraudsters will use a variety of methods to contact you. This can be through email, text message, phone call, social media or a combination of two or more to build trust. Always be cautious and consider how you can verify that the person, organisation or opportunity is genuine.

Mule accounts

This is where people are persuaded to unwittingly launder money and are known as 'money mules'. Criminals look to dupe people into laundering money on their behalf.  

They do these in a number of ways, see below for some examples:

  • Advertising what looks like a legitimate job where you are managing finance, or ‘make money working from home’

  • A friend asking you to deposit money at your bank and transfer it for them (they’ll claim their own account is blocked)

  • Or someone asking you to bank a cheque and then give or transfer them the cash

You may be asked to receive money into your account only to withdraw those funds and send it on. Some fraudsters may even offer that you keep some of the funds as a commission or thank you.

Please be aware that:

  • criminals normally approach you through social media 

  • the money you’re asked to transfer is normally stolen or the proceeds of crime

  • handling this money could result in criminal prosecution

  • your accounts could be frozen and potentially closed

  • wages kept by you as part of the transfer will be recovered from your account, and you may be liable for the full value of the funds you received

  • details of your involvement may be shared with other banks, making the opening of another bank account difficult

You can find an A-Z of fraud and scams on Action Fraud's website

If you think you've been a victim of fraud, please contact us.

Common types of fraud

Online Shopping Fraud

Shopping and auction fraud involves fraudulent shopping scams that rely on the anonymity of the internet.

  • Protect yourself against online shopping fraud
  • The warning signs are: 
    • Receiving goods late, or not at all
    • Receiving goods that are either less valuable than those advertised or significantly different from the original description
    • Failure to disclose relevant information about a product or the terms of sale

How to protect yourself

Here are a few tell-tale signs to help you spot a phishing email:

  • Make sure you’ve installed the latest software & app updates. Criminals use weaknesses in software to attack your devices and steal information, such as your payment details
  • Use a strong, separate password for your email account. Criminals can use your email to access other online accounts, such as those you use for online shopping
  • Don’t click on a link in an unexpected email or text
  • The volume of online shopping related phishing emails increases significantly during the holiday period. Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is
  • Don’t pay for goods or services by bank transfer unless you know and trust the person. Payments via bank transfer offer you no protection if you become a victim of fraud

Identity theft

Identity theft affects over 100,000 people every year. With a few personal details, a criminal can open new bank accounts, get new credit cards, claim benefits and apply for official documents like a driving licence - all in your name, and all traceable to you.

The warning signs are:

  • 'lost' mail, for example your bank statements or credit card bills suddenly stop arriving
  • your rubbish bags have been tampered with
  • you start getting bills you don't recognise
  • strange Direct Debits or payments appear on your account

How to protect yourself:

  • shred sensitive information - never simply throw it away or recycle it
  • delete suspicious emails from organisations requesting personal information – remember, we'll never ask for such information by email
  • think twice before giving out personal information
  • if you move house, redirect your mail
  • use online bank statements instead of printed, posted ones

Contactless card fraud

Contactless payments are relatively new, and a quick and convenient way to pay especially if remembering a PIN or using a fiddly number pad is a problem.
Contactless card fraud can occur if your card is stolen or temporarily taken away from you, allowing criminals to tap it at payment terminals or skim the card details.
Santander International has controls in place to limit this but to keep yourself safe just make sure you keep hold of your card all the time. And if you do lose your card or have it stolen, report it to us as soon as possible.

You can find an A-Z of fraud and scams on Action Fraud's website

If you think you've been a victim of fraud, please contact us.

Download our Fraud awareness and How to protect yourself against scams leaflets