HSBC reveals top scams and re-launches fraud app

HSBC has reported that the three most common scams it has seen by across cards and payments in the six months from November 2021 to April 2022 are impersonation scams, purchase scams and investment scams.

At the same time, the bank has announced that it is updating and expanding its free Fraud and Cyber Awareness mobile app to provide additional protection to retail banking customers, the bank has announced. The launch of the re-vamped app is available to download by everyone, whether they are customers or not, or Android iOS devices.

Top three payment and card scams

Purchase scams, where fraudsters trick shoppers into paying in advance for goods or services that are never received, are the most common type of scam by volume.

The number of purchase scam victims seen each month has increased from 781 in November 2021 to 865 in April 2022.There were a total of 4,949 purchase scams during these six months and when all the cases are added together the total amount involved is £3.7 million.

The bank is noticing an increase in purchase scams involving falsely advertised vehicles online. There are a variety of ways fraudsters use vehicles to extract funds, some involve fake shipping websites that promise to look after funds for vehicles purchased abroad. Some advertise vehicles at well below market value to lure customers in, customers are then being convinced to purchase either by putting down deposits or outright payments.

HSBC UK’s Head of Fraud, David Callington, says: “Unfortunately there are a number of fake adverts being placed on legitimate sites such as Autotrader, Facebook and Ebay. As with any big online purchase it’s important to see the vehicle that’s been advertised in real life before handing over your money.”

Impersonation scams, where a fraudster impersonates an organisation such as a bank, retailer or utility provider, have increased in volume by 12% in the six months between November 2021 and April 2022. HSBC UK has seen 2,825 scam victims over the same period with the total amount of money involved in these scams per month reaching a high of £3.4 million in April. Customers have reported being scammed out of a total of £20.1 million between November 2021 and April 2022.

A rising number of impersonation scams originate from a call from the fraudster posing as ‘Amazon’ informing the customer that someone has made a card purchase on their account. The fraudster says that a refund can be provided but for safety reasons it will need to be sent to a ‘safe’ account rather than the customer’s bank account. The customer is told to download a digital banking app from another financial services provider and open an account, including adding their card details. At this point the customer is sent a One Time Passcode from HSBC UK which they are told to share, believing this will allow them to receive a refund. In reality, their bank account is being debited for a card transaction.

HSBC is also seeing fraudsters impersonating its UK Fraud team and calling customers to say their account is at risk. Usually this is after the fraudster has sent a scam text impersonating another organisation, for example, Royal Mail, and requested a small payment which requires the customers to input their account details. The fraudster tells the customer they need to move funds to a safe account which is usually an external bank account controlled by the fraudster or increasingly, at a cryptocurrency trading platform.

Callington advises: “HSBC UK will never ask you to move money to a safe account or disclose your One Time Passcode. Likewise, we would never ask you to delete your mobile banking app. If someone asks you to do any of these things, hang up right away, it’s a scam.”

Investment scams, often involving the purchase of fake bonds or cryptocurrency, incur bigger losses for the bank’s customers than any other type of scam. Customers successfully targeted by this scam paid away £11.2 million to 794 investment scams from November 2021 to April 2022 with the customer being scammed out of an average of around £14,173 per case.

A typical investment scam could start out with a message or call out of the blue about an investment opportunity that’s ‘too good to miss’, and contact can be made with the victim over months, sometimes years, to extract as much money as possible. The bank is increasingly seeing scams that involve trading in genuine companies but through a fake intermediary. The victim can be shown an app or website listing their investments (and returns) only to lose contact with the intermediary further down the line.

Callington adds: “With the cost of living sky high, it’s no surprise people are lured in by schemes promising low risk for high returns. The general rule is that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Customers can check if a company is authorised via the FCA website – if it’s not regulated we wouldn’t recommend investing.”

These warnings come as HSBC UK reveals over 3.5 million customers have subscribed to its Voice ID technology using their voice as their telephone banking password. Voice ID has identified 50,000 attempted telephone frauds since it was introduced in 2016.

App has new features

The HSBC Fraud and Cyber Awareness app will provide real-time warnings about new scams being spotted that are particularly relevant to retail banking customers, plus it will provide information to help them spot the signs of a scam, and a quiz to test knowledge.

The app also includes information on action that should be taken to report fraud or scams, alongside specific contact details to the bank’s relevant departments. It will also include a link to Get Safe Online and Cifas’ Check a website tool, which enables anyone to type in the address of a website before they visit it, to check if it is likely to be legitimate or fraudulent.

HSBC’s advice on the latest scams and how customers can protect themselves can be found on its fraud app and at


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