How to protect your business from online scams

Terry Lawson RBS By Terry Lawson, Head of Fraud at the Royal Bank of Scotland

16 November 2016

Ever changing technology means that fraudsters are always finding new ways to exploit your business. Terry Lawson, Head of Fraud at the Royal Bank of Scotland, outlines how you can protect your interests by understanding the threats and taking measures to counteract them.

Most of us will have heard about scams. And most of us will have thought 'I'd never fall for that.'

Today we've released data showing just how many of our customers have fallen for these types of scams. It's the first time that we've done this and we've done it in the hope that we can raise awareness of the most common scams and how easy it is to fall for them. Most importantly, we want to make sure our customers know how to protect themselves.

There's an assumption that it's only elderly and vulnerable customers who fall victim to scams. It's not. We've had doctors, police officers and even some of our own members of staff affected.

Typically scams fall into two categories. The first are fairly common but because they're a low value of less than £50 people don't always report them. The most common scam that falls into this category is goods or services, typically bought through eBay or Gumtree not arriving or not being as advertised.

Sadly, a lot of scams are for much larger sums of money – these fall into the second category. This is when the fraudster builds up a relationship with the victim in order to gain access to a large amount of money. The fraudster often impersonates a member of the police or even a bank worker. Often they pretend your money is at risk if you don't act immediately. As soon as you transfer the money into their account they transfer it away and recovery becomes almost impossible.

As a bank we try our hardest to prevent our customers falling victim to scams. Sometimes when you're making a transaction in the branch you may be asked a couple of extra questions to make sure we're comfortable with the transaction. Little actions like this have helped prevent some of our customers transferring large sums to scammers.

But there are lots of simple actions that you can take to protect yourself.

Firstly, we'll never phone you up and ask you to move money to a safe account. If you think your account is at risk then tell us. We'll freeze it so no funds can be transferred away. We'll call you and run through account verification with you and make your account safe for you.

Secondly, if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is! Investment scams and lottery scams often start by persuading you to part with a small amount of money in order to receive a huge sum in return.

Finally, don't be embarrassed to speak up and question what you're being asked to do. We find that some people who fall victim to fraud are embarrassed to admit it. This is especially common with romance fraud, which occurs when you meet the 'perfect partner' online, but once they've gained your trust they ask for money for a variety of emotive reasons. If you tell us then we can work with the police, trading standards and other bodies to help stop this happening in the future.

We have lots of information on our website and through our roadshows with ICAS as well as our network of Business Growth Enablers. I'd encourage you to read it, talk about it with your friends and family and don't think it won't happen to you.

To learn more about what you should consider for your business visit our website.

For more information on Royal Bank of Scotland’s fraud and cybercrime support and our new roadshows, contact Paula Ritchie at or Gavin Wilson at

Find out more

About the author

Terry Lawson is the head of fraud at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

About the company

Royal Bank of Scotland has paved the way in banking ever since it was established in 1727. From the world’s first overdraft, and the first house purchase loan by a UK bank, to the first fully-fledged internet banking service and mobile banking app the bank has a history of making life easier for its customers.

The bank has commitment to retain its close connections with the Scottish communities it serves.

This blog is one of a series of articles from our commercial partners.
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of ICAS.


  • Business

Previous Page