How to avoid money transfer scams in 2024


Joe Baker
Joe Baker
Senior Copywriter
Joe is a Senior Copywriter working on reports, news and analysis. Previously, he worked as a B2B copywriter, journalist and editor covering a broad range of topics, including technology, transport,… Read more

With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to send money abroad. However, that simplicity makes it even more important to be aware of (and know how to avoid) money transfer scams in 2024. 

The rise of smartphones and online platforms has prompted the growth of authorised push payment (APP) fraud, which is where bad actors trick or manipulate people or businesses into sending them money under false pretenses. In 2022, UK victims of APP fraud reportedly lost a total of £485m. 

As the UK government brings in new rules to combat fraudsters, scammers are only growing more crafty – for example, using artificial intelligence to impersonate friends and family with deepfakes. And yet, the sad reality is that once money is transferred, it’s not always possible to get it back. 

That’s why, now more than ever, you need to be on your toes when it comes to spotting scammers and ensuring you are sending money through providers you can trust. Here’s our guide on how to avoid money transfer scams in 2024. 

What are the most common money transfer scams?

The best way to beat scammers is to know what to look out for. Here are some of the most common money transfer scams you might encounter. 

Phishing: Emails, messages or other communications that purport to be from reputable companies, and which ask readers to give up personal information such as bank details or passwords.

Friend or family scams: Messages pretending to be friends or family asking you to pay money, usually for an urgent emergency. 

Purchase scams: Criminals requesting money transfers for fake products/services.

Befriending/romance scams: Receiving messages from social media accounts that attempt to either befriend or charm you, with the intention of then asking for money. 

Investment scams: If you’ve seen an email promising you’ll “get rich quick” if you invest in a newfangled invention or company, you may have been approached by an investment scammer. 

How to avoid money transfer scams

So now that you’ve seen some of the most popular money transfer scams, how can you avoid them? Below are some top tips.

Always research who you are sending money to

If you are sending money to a company abroad, always check they are legitimate by ensuring you speak to someone in person (either in-person over a Zoom call or over the phone). You can also check their credentials through Google Reviews or TrustPilot. You can also compare established, trusted money transfer companies on our company reviews page. 

Has someone you know personally asked for money? Check that they are using the email address or number that they usually use and consider double checking via another contact number. 

Don’t click on links from unknown sources

No matter how urgent the message, refrain from clicking on any links from emails that you receive out of the blue. 

Links in attachments can download malware to your computer, or lead you to fake online forms that ask you to make payments or share personal information. Only click on links on emails that you are expecting to receive or when you have specifically ordered a product or service, or if it is from a source you know you can trust.  

Watch out for suspicious payment requirements

Similar to your bank, no online retailer, seller or business abroad will ask you to provide your personal PIN number or any passwords. Beware of giving out personal information over the phone, particularly dates of birth or your maiden name, which could be used to infiltrate your accounts. 

…And suspicious language

Spelling and grammar mistakes can be a particularly big red flag – particularly if they are in a supposedly professional communication from a company.

Be wary of messages claiming payment is needed ‘urgently’

A common tactic for scammers is to put pressure on fraud victims to act quickly, either to secure a good deal or to avoid a bad outcome – for example, blackmailing you to leak private or embarrassing information about you. This will usually be emotional manipulation, so don’t fall for it!

Ask yourself: Is it all too good to be true? 

If the answer is yes, it probably is. Be very wary of ‘unmissable opportunities’ or ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes, as these will more than likely be sent by scammers looking to prey on vulnerable or desperate individuals.  

What is being done to help prevent fraud?

Banks and financial regulators are doing more to combat fraud – for example through implementing anti-fraud technologies that warn customers if it looks like they are making a suspicious transfer. 

In response to a rise in APP payments, in June 2023 the UK government’s payment services regulator published a policy statement on enhancing consumer protection from APP fraud made through Faster Payments – the UK’s domestic instant payments system. 

However, this does not currently cover cross-border payments, which is why it is so important to be vigilant about researching who you are sending money to and who with.

What should I do if I am the victim of a money transfer scam? 

Contact your money transfer provider and/or your bank straightaway to inform them of what has happened. In some cases, they may be able to immediately stop the transaction and refund the money if the transfer has not yet been made.

However, in the case of you actively sending money to a recipient, there is no guarantee that you will be able to get your money back. With overseas transfers, this can be much more difficult, as you are in a different jurisdiction. 

Having said this, it is still beneficial to gather all the details about the scam – the method you used to pay, how much you have paid, the account you have paid to or any passwords you have given – and pass this on to the Citizens Advice Bureau. They in turn will pass it onto your local Trading Standards officer, who in turn will investigate and can use evidence from your case to find and stop scammers. 

There are a number of other organisations that you can contact in the event of a scam. To find out more, head to the Citizens Advice website. 

Are money transfers safe?

Using trustworthy, established and reliable banks or money transfer providers to send money abroad can help ensure your money reaches the right destination – having said this, there is always a risk that you will encounter one of the scams above, which is why it is so important to do your research before sending money abroad. 

FXcompared can help you compare money transfer providers who will help you send money overseas safely. Head to our money transfer comparison tool for a quote in seconds.

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