New scam warnings have appeared in Tesco stores across the country as the supermarket has teamed up with UK Finance’s Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign. With criminals tricking people into buying gift cards to pay for fake fines and overdue tax payments, the campaign has placed alerts in the gift card sections of Tesco stores to help keep customers safe.
Take Five is a national campaign that offers straight-forward and impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from fraud. The campaign has been working with Tesco and Tesco Bank to alert consumers to scams.
Gift cards are popular with criminals as they can be used to launder money, are less likely to be intercepted, and are difficult to trace compared to bank transfers.
They are used in impersonation scams, with criminals posing as organisations such as HMRC, DVLA or the police. Often criminals will invent a time-critical reason why they need the gift card. This can include claims that the victim needs to pay a tax, fine, or a fee to win a prize. Some may even impersonate an employer and say that the cards are needed for a work gift.
Once the customer has bought the card and sent the voucher code to the fraudster, the money on the card is either spent straight away or the card is sold onto other criminals. Some criminals will then ask the victim to buy more gift cards once they have received the first code.
Sarah Sinden, manager of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, said:
“Criminals are experts at impersonating people and organisations, and will go to great lengths to convince someone that they need your money in the form of a gift card. The police, banks or other reputable organisations will never ask you to buy a gift card for them, so alarm bells should start ringing if you are asked to get one.
“Follow the advice of the Take Five campaign: always stop and think before parting with your money in case it’s a scam.
“We would like to thank Tesco and Tesco Bank for raising awareness of this type of fraud, helping to protect customers from this callous scam.”
Ban Mahsoub, Head of Money Services at Tesco Bank said:
“These scams have the potential to hurt our customers and we are committed to helping anyone who may be targeted and influenced by scammers.
“Fortunately, people are increasingly wary of handing over banking information or transferring money to people they don’t know, but this means fraudsters are coming up with more elaborate ways to steal innocent victims’ money. Gift cards don’t tend to be associated with scams, so it’s important customers are made aware of this type of fraud.
“Tesco is one of the largest retailers of gift cards in the UK, and these new warnings in our stores are the latest of a number of precautions we take to help protect our customers against scams.”
To help people stay safe, the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign advice is to:
- STOP: Take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
- CHALLENGE: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
- PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.
Notes to editors:
- Take Five to Stop Fraud is a national campaign that offers straight-forward and impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud.
- UK Finance is the collective voice for the banking and finance industry. Representing more than 300 firms across the industry, we act to enhance competitiveness, support customers and facilitate innovation.
Tesco takes precautions to protect our customers against fraud involving gift cards, including limiting the number of gift cards that can be bought in one transaction. Our colleagues receive regular guidance on how to recognise signs that a scam may be taking place and should always raise any suspicious behaviour with senior managers.
About Tesco Bank
Tesco Bank’s goal is to make banking and insurance easier and better value for people who shop at Tesco. We’ve been around since 1997 and today we help more than 5 million customers manage their money every day. Over 3,800 colleagues serve our customers seven days a week from our three main centres in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle, and we are also available through online and mobile banking 24/7. Tesco Bank participates in the Chartered Banker Professional Standards Board.