The 159 anti-fraud pilot scheme is led Stop Scams UK in an unprecedented collaboration between some of the UK’s largest banks, telecoms firms and tech companies.
In 2020 criminal gangs stole over £470m from individuals and small businesses by pretending to be a bank or other service provider, according to Stop Scams UK. And in the first half of 2021 money lost to APP fraud (authorised push payment (APP) or bank transfer) had increased by 71% on the same period last year.
A simple, memorable number – 159 – which when you call it you are presented with a menu to choose a number that corresponds with your bank and will connect you directly and securely to your bank so you can check if any call you received was genuine or not.
Banks currently part of the scheme are –
- Lloyds (including Halifax and Bank of Scotland)
- NatWest (including Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank)
- Starling Bank
159 works in the same way as 101 for the police or 111 for the NHS, a quick and guaranteed connection to help when needed.
The idea of having this hotline is to disrupt impersonation scammers who call and pose as banks or other firms to trick people into sending them money. A genuine bank or authority figure will never mind if you hang up, call 159, and call back later using a trusted number.
People are being urged to call 159 if:
- Someone contacts them purporting to be from their bank – even if they are not suspicious.
- They’re contacted by someone claiming to be an authority figure (e.g. the police) and told to transfer money – even if it seems genuine
So, if you are ever suspicious of a call from someone asking for you to transfer monies or give your bank details, stop, hang up, and call 159.
Calling 159 will cost the same as a national rate call, which is usually part of any included minutes on most mobile or fixed line phone tariffs, (check with your provider for call costs to national rate numbers), however, if the pilot is successful, Stop Scams UK will ask Ofcom to make 159 a universal number offered by all telephone providers, like 101, 111 or 999.