How To Avoid Bank Scam Calls, As Helen Skelton Reveals She Lost £70,000

The TV presenter revealed to Lorraine Kelly that fraudsters stole her life savings after just one phone call.

Helen Skelton has revealed her devastation after she fell victim to a bank call scam, which cost her £70,000 in life savings.

The TV presenter received a phone call from what she thought was her bank and was told something “dodgy” had gone on with her account. A week later £70,000 – which she says was all of her life savings – had disappeared.

Skelton appeared on ITV’s Lorraine earlier this week, issuing a warning to viewers so they don’t fall victim to the same trap.

She said all it took was her answering “a few questions” over the phone for her money to disappear entirely. “It happens every day of the week and to everyone,” she warned. “We are not talking about little old ladies who are victims and don’t understand the internet.”

Skelton did not reveal if, or when, she got the £70,000 back.

Helen Skelton reveals she lost £70,000.
Chekat / Peter Byrne (PA Images) via Getty Images
Helen Skelton reveals she lost £70,000.

In the first half of 2018, data from UK Finance revealed more than £500m had been stolen from customers of British banks in scams.

In July this year, it warned consumers to be wary of automated phone calls pretending to be from a bank or card company. With this particular scam, customers would receive an automated call claiming that a suspicious transaction had occurred on their account and needed to be verified. The customer was then prompted to press a number on their phone to be taken through to a supposed “agent”, who would try to scam them.

It seems fraudsters are particularly clever nowadays, using all kinds of methods to trick people into handing over essential details. So how can you protect yourself?

How to avoid a bank scam call:

Be aware of any cold-callers, says a Santander spokesperson. “They might say they’re from your bank, HMRC, a telecoms company or even the police, and they can sound very professional and official – but a call out of the blue should immediately put you on your guard.”

Any texts or emails should be approached with caution. Sophisticated scammers can make phone calls or text messages appear as though they have genuinely come from your bank. But if you’re unsure, do not share any personal or financial details over the phone, via text or email.

Take five minutes to contact your bank if you do receive something, and double check that it’s genuine. If you feel something is suspicious, call your bank or card issuer on their advertised number to report the fraud.

If someone asks to transfer money – whether it’s via phone call or email – don’t do it. “Think about what you’re being asked to do,” says Santander’s spokesperson. “Is the person you’re speaking to asking you to transfer any money, to allow access to your computer or to give away personal information? This should immediately ring alarm bells. Your bank will never ask you to move money to another account.” Likewise, it will never call you out of the blue to ask for your PIN or full password.

How to spot a fraudster:

:: If the caller doesn’t give you time to think, tries to stop you speaking to a family member or friend, or is insistent and makes you feel uncomfortable, they are likely committing fraud, advises the Met Police.

:: If they phone to ask for your 4-digit card PIN or your online banking password, do not give it them. Even if they ask you to give it to them by tapping into the telephone keypad rather than saying the numbers out loud, this is a scam.

:: Another red flag is if they ask you to withdraw money to hand over to them for safe-keeping, says UK Finance.

:: They might also say that you are a victim of fraud and offer to send a courier to your home to collect your cash, PIN, payment card or cheque book.

For further information and advice, this leaflet on phone scams is helpful.