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Identity theft and scams: how to get your money back

Falling victim to a scam, having your identity stolen or your card cloned can be distressing. But, if you’ve had money stolen from your account there are some things you can do. Find out how to report the crime, what your bank can do and how to go about getting your money back.

What to do when money is stolen from your bank account

If money has been taken from your bank account without permission, whether your identity has been stolen, your card cloned, there’s been an unrecognised bank transfer or you’ve been the victim of a scam, there are certain steps you should take.

  1. Contact your bank or card provider to alert them. You could be liable for all money lost before you report it.
  2. Contact Action Fraud to report the crime if you’ve been scammed. This can be done online or by calling 0300 123 2040.
  3. You can also report financial scams, such as investment fraud, to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

My debit card has been used fraudulently

If someone has used your card in a store, or online, then you are covered under the Payment Services Regulations.

The regulations say you must be refunded immediately if you have had money taken from your account without your permission.

You must report the loss of your debit card, or any unauthorised payments as soon as possible, because you are liable for any losses before it has been reported, up to a maximum of £50.

My credit card has been used fraudulently

If someone makes unauthorised payments on your credit card, you are covered under the Consumer Credit Act.

This means you should be able to claim your money back as you are jointly liable with your credit card issuer.

As with debit cards you might liable for the first £50 spent if the card is lost or stolen. However, this is often waved if you report it quickly and were not negligent in any way. It is up to the card company to prove you were negligent.



What if someone applies for credit or opens a bank account in my name?

If your identity has been stolen, the crooks might try to open bank accounts, or apply for credit cards and loans in your name.

You might start to get letters from banks you’ve no accounts with, credit cards you’ve never applied for, or from debt collectors you know nothing about.

If this happens, contact your bank straight away and make sure you keep all correspondence.

You should also contact credit reference agencies if someone has applied for a loan or credit card in your name. The main three to contact are:

If you think someone has got your information by stealing your post, or by redirecting mail, you can also contact the Royal Mail Customer Enquiry Number on 03457 740 740.

Do banks reimburse stolen money?

If you’ve done nothing to compromise the security of your account, then you should get your money back. But, this is not guaranteed.

Refunds can be delayed if the bank has reasonable grounds to think you have been grossly negligent with the security of your account.

If the bank’s investigation proves you were negligent, then you might be liable for all the losses.

Examples of negligence include telling someone your PIN, or password. However, banks cannot simply say because your PIN or password were used that the payment was authorised.

Banks can also refuse a refund if you tell them about an unauthorised payment 13 months or more after it left your account.

Find out more about unauthorised transactions, and what counts as negligence on the FCA website.

What if my bank rejects my claim?

Your bank might reject your claim for a refund if it believes it can prove that you have been grossly negligent or acted fraudulently.

This does not have to be the end of the matter though – you can complain to the bank.

If you’re not happy with the way your complaint has been dealt with, you can then take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Emotional support is also available from Victim Support.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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