How to avoid the most common banking scams

Claims for fraudulent transactions submitted by customers to the Bank of Spain in 2022 doubled those of the previous year. A large proportion of these claims relate to payment transactions made by card or online transfer. We explain how to avoid the most common banking scams and what steps you need to take to make a claim.


The latest report published by the Bank of Spain detailing the number of complaints and queries handled in 2022 paints a worrying picture of the technological management of Spanish banks. Claims for fraudulent transactions increased by 109.1%, doubling those of the previous year. Specifically, 34,146 complaints were processed by the Bank of Spain’s Entity Conduct Department and almost one in three complaints (10,361, 30.3% of the total) was related to payment transactions made by card (86.1%) or by internet transfer (13.9%).

By institutions, CaixaBank, BBVA and Banco Santander received the most complaints, mainly because of their large volume of business, although CaixaBank and BBVA received more complaints than their market share. In any case, it is a widespread problem that affects practically all Spanish banks and will not go away given the growing popularity of online shopping.

In general, banking applications and online payments are very secure, but this security also depends to a large extent on the user’s own behaviour in preventing his or her personal bank account or card details from being compromised. That said, we can all fall victim to suspicious charges on our account or card, so let’s have a look at some of the most common banking scams.

Phishing and Smishing

Phishing and smishing practices stand out as one of the main causes behind the increase in complaints to the Bank of Spain. They consist of sending the victim a phishing email or a trap SMS/WhatsApp message (smishing) in order to obtain personal data, such as passwords, bank codes or account and credit card numbers. The email or message directs the customer to a fake duplicate of a website or mobile application that is very similar to one they normally use, such as a bank’s, so that they log in and have their information stolen. The false pretexts can be very varied: system update, data verification or technical problems.

Therefore, be wary of emails or SMS that look suspicious and do not open them. And, above all, do not give out your private banking information. Banks will never ask you for your personal details or passwords by email or text message.


Wishing is just a variant of the previous scams, but in this case, it is carried out by telephone. The scammer poses as an employee of a bank or a real company and provides a link to a fake web page or asks the victim directly for personal data.

As in the previous cases, we must avoid providing our personal data. Likewise, do not trust offers or promotions that seem too good to be true. If in doubt, you can always contact the bank or company through their official channels.

How to make a complaint

If unauthorised transactions are made on your bank account, first change your passwords for all online services and file a complaint with the financial institution’s Customer Care or Ombudsman Service. You can do this using the official complaint form or by calling the free telephone number for incidents and complaints, asking for the reference number corresponding to your complaint.

At the same time, you can file a report at a Mossos d’Esquadra police station, but there is little chance of finding the person directly responsible for the crime because there are often criminal groups from outside the national territory.

If you have not received a response from the bank within 30 days, or if the response is not satisfactory, contact the consumer office in your municipality. If the bank does not reimburse you for the amount fraudulently withdrawn or the mediation is unsuccessful, you can go to the Bank of Spain or take it to court. Remember that if the amount of the claim does not exceed 2,000 euros, you do not need a lawyer or solicitor. You can find more information here.

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  1. Manuel Bullich BuenoManuel Bullich Bueno says:

    Gràcies per la info.

  2. Joan Santacruz CarlúsJoan Santacruz Carlús says:
  3. Mercè ComasMercè Comas says:

    Gràcies per la informació. A més a més de vigilar per no caure en el parany es bo saber que s’ha de fer si estem de pega.

    • Jordi CollJordi Coll says:

      Exacte, i ja saps que quatre ulls hi veuen més que dos… Moltes gràcies pel teu comentari, Mercè!!!

      7 months ago
  4. Nuria GomezNuria Gomez says:

    Moltes Gràcies 👍🏽

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