The rising cost of fraud amounts to about £9.1 billion in the UK every year and the subterfuge scammers use to invade our lives, and bank accounts, becomes more and more inventive.

There are many scams in operation at any one time and safeguarding oneself against these criminals must be regarded as a high priority in today’s world where much of our personal data is increasingly stored and available on computers.

Telephone scams are one of the common methods used to convince people to hand over sensitive information. The elderly in particular are most vulnerable to this approach. Usually a fraudster will call you up, posing as your bank, to tell you that your account is at risk from fraudulent individuals and you need to transfer your money into a ‘safe account’ which is usually the criminal’s own account set up to syphon your funds straight into theirs.

Another scam that is currently claiming many victims is the ‘courier scam’. This involves the criminal phoning you and posing as a bank or even a police officer. They number or text message they use will be cloned to make it look convincing. Once they have you ‘snared’ they’ll ask you to enter your PIN number on the phone, after which you will be informed that a courier will be sent to collect your card. The courier arrives as planned, collects your card and the criminals now have both your card and PIN number to withdraw money from your account.

Buying scams, selling scams, Pension scams and even friendship and dating scams, the means these fraudsters will go to part you from your hard-earned-cash is endless, but as long as you follow some simple rules you can protect yourself from falling victim to crime.

If anyone asks you for your PIN number, password or other security information, whether online or on the phone, NEVER give out this information. A bank will never ask you for PIN or password details or to hand over your cards. A bank will only ask for details such as the first and fourth letters of your password.

If someone asks you to transfer money out of your account for because your account is at risk, put the receiver down straight away and contact your bank immediately.

If anyone sends you an email asking you for important security information starting with a ‘Dear customer’ opening, it’s more than likely to be a fraudster as banks always address emails to customers using their full name.

The best advice is always be wary of people calling or emailing saying they are from your bank or posing as police officers. Ask to see a police officer’s warrant card if you suspect an imposter. If you get a gut feeling that something doesn’t sound quite right it’s best to take heed. If in doubt, leave it out.