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Fraud guide

Learn about common scams and what you can do to protect yourself online and keep your money safe

If someone calls and asks you to move money from your account, don’t do it – even if they say they're from HSBC. We will never ask you to do this. But criminals will.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fraud

It's natural to worry about the health and safety of your family, friends and colleagues during this time. It's also important to be aware that fraudsters are more likely to seize the opportunity to target people for their own financial gain.

There has been a clear increase in fraud and scams relating to the coronavirus outbreak, with many people falling victim everyday. Fraudsters are using goods and services that may be required as a way to target people.

To help keep your funds and personal information safe, we’ve created a series of fraud prevention videos with case studies and practical fraud prevention advice from John Goddard, Head of HSBC Expat and Chris Beechey, States of Jersey Police Detective Chief Inspector, Crime Operations.

Get free advice on how to protect yourself and your finances online.

Introduction & Scam Texts from Trusted Sources

Learn about fraudsters who send fake text messages pretending to be from trusted sources like the government or police in this introduction video. The text will usually offer financial support or services, or will say that a penalty, fee or fine needs to be paid. If you receive a text like this, verify it by calling the supposed sender on a trusted or published phone number. Remember, no government or police force will ever contact you by text to pay a fine.

Purchase & Refund Scams

In this video, you'll hear from John and Chris about two of the most common scams at the moment: purchase and refund scams. Purchase scams may involve fake COVID-19 testing kits or PPE, whilst refund scams may involve the possibility of a refund for cancelled flights, holidays or goods. Always purchase items from a trusted website (look for ‘https:’ and a padlock icon), and always deal with goods and services providers using a trusted, published telephone number.

Charity Scams

Have you been contacted directly and asked to donate to a charity or charitable cause in the last few months? This video will show you how to be vigilant of fraudsters who may take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak by posing as charities asking for donations. These charities are often fake and the donations go straight into the fraudsters' pockets. Remember, do your own research before donating and only donate to a trusted charity using their secure website (look for ‘https:’ and a padlock icon).

Trusted Source Phishing Scams

Fraudsters may pretend to be your bank and want to talk to you about suspicious or blocked payments, or about moving money to another account. Your bank will never ask you to transfer money to a safe account. If you’re suspicious or feel vulnerable, you always have the right to end the call and refuse their requests.

Malicious Links & Websites

Have you been asked to click on a link or view attached documents in an email or text? Learn how fraudsters may try to gain access to your device to steal your personal and banking information. Always verify what you have received with the sender first, and never click on any links or documents in unsolicited emails or texts. You should never feel pressured into taking action.

See our guides for more information on what to look out for:

Report a scam or fraud

If you don't recognise a transaction on your account, or if your HSBC debit card has been lost or stolen, call us immediately.

Account fraud and lost or stolen debit cards

Account fraud and lost or stolen debit cards


To help us act fast, please have your 10-digit Personal Banking Number (PBN) and 6-digit Direct Banking PIN to hand - along with details of the transactions you don't recognise.

Credit card fraud and lost or stolen debit cards

If your HSBC credit card has been lost or stolen - or you suspect that it has been used fraudulently - contact our 24 hour helpline immediately. We'll cancel your card, issue a replacement and credit your account in full for any unauthorised transactions.

Not an HSBC customer?

If you suspect that a fake HSBC Expat account has been opened in your name or have received a suspicious email or phone call claiming to be from HSBC Expat please call us immediately. 

Staying safe online

We want you to be aware of the ways criminals may try to steal your money. Scammers could contact you by phone, text or email, claiming to be someone in a position of trust, such as a bank employee, a utility company representative or even the police. Once they have gained your trust, they will request sensitive information - information we would never ask for such as your PIN or password - which allows them to access your account.

If you suspect that you have been a victim of fraud please contact us immediately.

Vishing (telephone)

Fraudsters call out of the blue claiming that a fraud has already happened, or is imminent. They may have some information about you, and pose as bank staff, the police and other officials in a position of trust. They will then try to persuade you to:

  • transfer money to another account for "safekeeping" or "holding"
  • withdraw cash and hand it over "for investigation"
  • divulge private information, which they can use to gain access to your finances


In many cases, they will suggest you hang up the phone and call them back on another number. But, it is easy for them to keep the connection open and intercept the call, so all the information you think you're giving to your bank is actually going to them.

It's important to remember:

  • be wary of unsolicited phone calls, especially if you are asked to provide personal information
  • if you are suspicious or feel vulnerable, end the call and refuse requests for information
  • the display on your called ID could be falsified through "call spoofing" to show as a genuine bank number
  • HSBC will never call you to ask you to generate a Secure Key code or ask for your PIN
  • never share your security details with anyone else
  • criminals already may have some basic information about you (name, address, account details) but you should not assume that a caller is genuine because of this

Phishing (email)

Be wary of unsolicited emails that appear to be from your bank and contain links to websites which ask you to provide personal information. Emails may appear to be from a legitimate site and often warn that your account may be shut down unless you take action. These emails are designed to steal your private information to gain access to your accounts.

  • Do not reply to or click on a link any email that you are not sure is genuine
  • Contact the company, using an authenticated telephone number
  • If the email claims to be from HSBC forward it to phishing@hsbc.com and delete it


Things to look out for:

  • poor spelling and grammar
  • requests for confidential information such as your internet banking details, passwords, account numbers or PINs
  • instructions to reply, complete a form or document attached to the email or click through to a fake website in order to verify your account.
  • don't open attachments or click on links if you suspect they may not be genuine.

Smishing (SMS)

Text messages can be sent by fraudsters to look like they have come from your bank or from a trusted source to trick you into disclosing your personal and financial information (by calling a number or clicking a link).

It's important to remember:

  • HSBC will never ask you for your full PIN or password
  • HSBC will never text you a link that takes you directly to our log on page
  • fraudsters can use 'text spoofing' to deliberately falsify the telephone number to appear as 'HSBC' to seem like a genuine bank text
  • fraudsters can also send fake text messages pretending to be a government offering financial support, services or to impose fines
  • never share your security details with anyone else

If you have suspicions regarding a text message from HSBC, call us on a known number such as the number on the back of your card before acting on it.

Computer takeover scam (remote access takeover)

There has been a recent increase in reports of a new-style telephone scam in which fraudsters impersonate major organisations to take over computers to steal money from online bank accounts. Criminals use technology to take control of victims' computers from remote locations, after telephoning them and offering to help with a slow computer or internet connection.

To avoid falling victim to this scam, you should:

  • be wary of unsolicited approaches by phone which may be claiming to offer a refund
  • avoid letting someone you do not know or trust have access to your computer, especially remotely
  • never log onto your online banking while someone else has access to your computer


Never disclose your:

  • four digit card PIN to anyone
  • your password or online banking codes (including activation code)
  • personal details unless you are sure who you are talking to

Courier scams

Fraudsters will claim to be from your bank and arrange for a courier to collect your card. They may also ask you to write down your PIN and hand it over as well. To add credibility they may even advise you to cut the card in half.

It's important to remember:

  • HSBC will never ask for your card and/or PIN to be returned via courier
  • you should never divulge your PIN to anyone
  • HSBC's fraud detection teams will only ever ask for partial information. For example we will never ask for your mother's full maiden name or full date of birth


To ensure that we can get in touch if any suspicious activity seems to be taking place on your account, please ensure your contact details are up to date.

Investment or 'Boiler room' scams

Some cold calls will offer too-good-to-be-true investment opportunities. These often involve being sold worthless, overpriced or even non-existent shares. These can take many forms, but there are things you can look out for such as:

  • unsolicited approaches
  • unrealistically high returns offered for "low risk" investments
  • lack of independent evidence of the validity of the scheme
  • pressure to make quick decisions
  • instructions to keep the approach confidential
  • approaches from someone whose only contact details consist of a mobile phone number


If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Romance scams

Romance scams occur when people enter into an online relationship, through a dating website. But, one person enters the relationship under false pretences to steal funds and information from the other.

It's important to remember:

  • never to share your bank details or account information
  • research the person before agreeing to meet with them outside the dating site
  • report suspicious behaviour

You might be interested in

 

Stay safe when you do your banking online with the HSBC Secure Key. 

 

Watch our security videos for advice on how to protect yourself from financial crime.

 

If you suspect there's been fraud on your account, find out your next steps.

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