Vishing & Telephone Fraud | NatWest

Telephone fraud
Vishing & Telephone Fraud


Add your signposting title here… What is Vishing?

Vishing is a type of phishing scam that happens on the phone. The word vishing is a combination of ‘voice’ and ‘phishing’.

These are unsolicited phone calls from fraudsters which encourage you to give out your personal details, such as your card, PIN, Mobile Banking App activation/passcodes or card reader codes. The fraudsters can pretend to be your bank, the police, or any other official company.

Fraudsters will call mobile phones or landlines pretending to be from your bank in order to get your personal information or ask you to move money from your personal bank account. They may have some of your personal information, such as name, address, or phone number, to make them seem genuine.

These calls will often seem urgent to get you to act as quickly as possible, giving you minimal time to think about whether the call is fraudulent. The atmosphere and background noises can help the calls seem more convincing.

Sometimes you may get a 'warm up' call where no information is discussed. This is to set the scene for a later call where you may be asked for information.

Vishing is a type of social engineering scam. Learn all about other social engineering scams and how to protect yourself in our helpful guide.


How to spot a phone scam

To help you apply the advice on this page to a real life situation, we’ve prepared this section to give you an idea of the kinds of things scammers say to get you to let your guard down. 

Read the following examples to help you spot something suspicious

  • Fraudsters might have done enough research about you to make you believe it’s a genuine call: 

    “Is that John Smith speaking? Just going to confirm your personal details. Your address is … and your number is …”


  • Don’t trust a stranger who tells you to “act fast”. Fraudsters create a false sense of urgency so you have less time to think about what’s going on:

    “We want to get this sorted for you as quickly as possible, so if you can follow these instructions immediately...”


  • Fraudsters want to appear trustworthy, to make you feel as though they’re on your side. This is so that you’ll follow their instructions:

    “I know how stressful this must be for you, so I’m here to help and do everything I can to fix this”


This is sometimes known as a social engineering scam.


  • They might use words like “suspicious” to frighten you, without actually giving you any specific information about what’s happened: 

    “We’ve detected some suspicious activity on your account.”

  • You may be told that there’s a ‘safe account’ for you to transfer your money to. This safe account can’t be trusted – you could be transferring your money straight to them: 

    “We’ve set up a safe account where you can transfer your money.”


  • You might be asked to install software to protect your information. This gives the fraudsters access and control over your computer screen, so they can see you enter your financial details, like your card number or your Online Banking passcode:

    “Installing this protective software will prevent fraudulent activity on your account. Please install this and then log in to your Online Banking.”


Read our guide to keeping your data protected or look at our guide to social media to learn how to help you stop your details getting into the wrong hands.


Answering a call

  • Beware of phone spoofing – criminals can use sophisticated technology to make the number appear like it’s a genuine number, not their actual caller ID
  • Don’t assume that because it sounds genuine, it is genuine. Fraudsters can play recorded sounds in the background to make it sound like a call centre
  • If you receive a suspicious or unexpected call, always verify the caller using an independently checked phone number such as a contact number from our website

During a call

Never give out the following details to anyone over the phone, even a caller claiming to be from your bank or the police (this includes typing the numbers into your keypad)


  • Your Mobile banking App activation codes and passcode
  • Your full Online Banking PIN
  • Your full Online Banking password 
  • Any codes from your card reader codes
  • Any details from your debit or credit cards 

If you get a call asking you for any of this information, end the call immediately

Other things a scammer might ask you to do

  • Never be persuaded to download any software or visit a site because someone on the phone has told you to. This could be a pharming scam. Find out what pharming is here
  • Don’t transfer money at the request of an unexpected caller over the phone
Add your signposting title here… End the call if it seems suspicious

• Don’t be rushed. When you’re forced to act quickly, it’s easy to misjudge the situation

• Don’t be afraid to hang up. If you feel you’re being put under pressure, hang up the phone and call us on one of the official numbers listed here

Always report fraud

Treat this scam as you would a phishing scam or smishing scam. Always make sure you report it straight away

Helpful guides to read and keep by your phone

The Little Book of Big Scams (PDF opens in new window)

Helpful tip sheet to leave by your phone (PDF opens in a new window)

If you’ve received a phone call and you’re unsure whether it’s us or not, take a look at our guide to see if a NatWest call is genuine.


What to do if you are a victim of fraud


Set Tab for lightbox