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Why is it dangerous to give someone your bank details?

Why is it dangerous to give someone enough of your bank details for them to transfer money to you - ie; bank sort code and account number. After all, this is increasingly the normal way for folks to transfer money to each other. Many articles on scams say that once unscrupulous folks have conned you out of these details they can "help themselves to your money", or "clear out your account". How can they do that when all they have is a sort code and account number?


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It's no more risky than a cheque which has these details printed on them.

The problem isn't so much when someone has your bank sort code and account number - as SB says, that information is routinely printed on cheques. It's when they have that information and other personal details that there might be cause to worry. For example, if they also know your date of birth, have an example of your signature, have a record of your PIN code, postal address and/or "official" documents with your name and address (e.g. electricity bill). Each separate thing on it's own is usually not a problem if someone else knows it - the advice is more to do with the disposal of information that can be used in conjunction with other data to build a "profile" that can misrepresented as you.

Boatman The information that you refer to is not sufficient. What happens is that they get some information such as you said, but then con you into supplying more, perhaps by impersonating your bank. That is when your account is emptied! If you keep all information to an absolute minimum, you will be less likely to become a target. And Xmas is a popular time for them, so don't make them a present of your info! Mike

Two reasons: It is potentially possible to set up a standing order or money transfer with just the account number and sort code, as the sort code also lets them find the name and address of the bank. They need to forge your signature on the form, but if the signature is a sufficiently good forgery to be accepted, the transfer will be made, and the onus will be on you to prove it was not a genuine request. Sometimes the banks don't even check the signature at all, out of pure laziness, and can take ages to respond to any complaint about a fake standing order: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/01/20/fat_lazy_banks/ 2. They can potentially add your details to a forged debit card and use it with retailers who do not use electronic verification at the point of sale. In this case, the fraud is relatively easy to prove as the debit card number on the impression will not match yours. It's just a hassle to sort it out, as the bank will have to wait to see the impression in order to refund the money, and again will tend to be useless and slow. So you're unlikely to actually lose any money, and any losses will eventually be recovered, but it will just be a lot of hassle and inconvenience.

Oh, and never ever ever use a cheque for anything except close family. A cheque has your name, account number, sort code and signature on it. If a good fraudster gets hold of this you may have to employ a handwriting expert to prove it wasn't you who signed it. Fraudsters can also make small withdrawls over the counter with the required details and a well forged signature - some banks won't even ask for ID with that. I'm honestly amazed that banks still allow cheques given the potential for fraud that exists with them.

Oh, and they can set up direct debits to random charities: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7174760.stm Although the DD guarantee should mean you get a full refund if this is done fraudulently. Clarkson's obviously too dense to realise this...

Wow, thanks Swarbs... I didn't think of all that - very useful info! :)