UK banking first – Barclays launches new debit card controls in Great British Fraud Fightback

  • Barclays UK CEO launches new £10m national digital safety drive
  • New debit card choices will allow customers to turn on and off remote spending and change ATM limits
  • New online quiz to give everyone free digital safety score and tips
  • Research shows London, Bristol, and Birmingham are scam hotspots with young adults most at risk

In a UK high street bank first, Barclays is giving customers new levels of control over when, where and how their debit card works, offering customers the choice to instantly turn ‘on’ and ‘off’ whether their card can be used to make remote purchases, and even set their own daily ATM withdrawal limits on the Barclays Mobile Banking app.

Barclays is unveiling the new controls as part of a new £10m nationwide drive to increase the public’s awareness of financial fraud risks, and help them to stay safe in the digital age with information, tools and tips.

This major initiative is being launched as latest crime figures show 5.6m fraud and cyber offences in the UK making up half of all recorded crime, and costing the UK £11bn*.  Yet, these numbers could be even higher as new Barclays research reveals a quarter of people in the UK (25 per cent) have experienced a cyber-fraud or scam in the past three years, 18 per cent of them more than once, suggesting that many cyber-crimes go unreported.

The new national Digital Safety Index survey, released today, also shows that:

  • London, Bristol, and Birmingham are the scam capitals in the UK, with the largest gaps in public resilience.
  • London and Bristol also top the tables for the most reported cases of fraud, with Manchester joining them in the top three.
  • Newcastle reported fewer cases of fraud and scams, while Liverpool reported a particularly high number of impersonation scams.
  • Highly-educated Londoners (Masters degree and above), aged 25-34 are the UK’s most vulnerable group, with men slightly more at risk than women.
  • Younger people (25-34 year olds) are twice as likely to be victims of online fraud than older generations, putting to bed the notion that older people are more at risk of being “duped” by cyber criminals.
  • Nearly a fifth (17 per cent) of people who have been a victim of a fraud or scam take no action to boost their digital defences as a result.
  • Only 17 per cent of people in the UK can correctly identify basic digital threats such as social media messages intended to trick users into sharing personal details or downloading malware.

Barclays UK CEO is calling for the public, police and businesses across the UK to unite and tackle this growing issue of public concern.

In addition to the new debit card controls, the new Digital Safety drive will see:

  • A new online quiz is available to everyone in the UK from today. By answering simple questions people can assess their own digital safety level, and receive useful tips on how to strengthen their defences at Barclays aims to help at least 3m people to boost their digital safety levels by using the test.
  • A new £10m national advertising campaign is being launched across national TV, print, online and billboards. It will alert people to the risk of fraud unless they take proper precautions, and will include content targeted towards younger people and in urban areas.
  • Barclays hosting regular fraud awareness takeovers on its online and mobile banking sites, prioritising fraud prevention over products.
  • Barclays’ nationwide force of 17,000 Digital Eagles will provide digital safety teach-ins to people, and free support clinics for the 1million UK SMEs we serve. Barclays LifeSkills is also launching new Digital Safety learning content specifically designed for younger people.
  • Barclays is also leading industry efforts to prevent instances where customers are duped into withdrawing all their cash from branches and handing it to a scammer posing as a trusted person, through a new police hotline for branch colleagues to call.

Ashok Vaswani, Chief Executive of Barclays UK, said: “Fraud is often wrongly described as an invisible crime, but the effects are no less damaging to people’s lives. As a society our confidence in using digital technology to shop, pay our bills and connect with others has grown faster than our knowledge of how to do so safely. This has created a ‘digital safety gap’ which is being exploited by criminals. I believe the need to fight fraud has now become a national resilience issue, and we all need to boost our digital safety levels in order to close the gap.

“That is why we are launching this new national campaign on digital safety, and we will do all in our power to arm people with the tools and information they need. But we also need to support and encourage the public to take action to protect themselves, such as changing passwords regularly. They can take the first step by completing our new free online quiz and discover how to boost their defences.

“I want to help make digital safety as commonplace as locking your front door. I want businesses, the police and the public to unite and stand shoulder to shoulder together so that we can block and frustrate the bad guys at every turn.”

Laura Flack, Barclays Head of Digital Safety, said: “Each one of us probably knows someone who has fallen victim to a criminal fraudster. Crooks are using ever more sophisticated tactics to trick people into handing over their bank details, or to pay money to a fraudster when they believe they are simply paying their builder or solicitor.

“It’s alarming that younger people and those in cities are more at risk. We need to super-charge our digital know-how and talk to our friends and relatives to prevent these crimes from happening. Often staying safe isn’t rocket science. A few practical steps and a dose of vigilance can boost your safety immeasurably. Remember if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Barclays estimates that if people implemented these three top tips we could help to cut levels of fraud by up to 75 per cent.

  1. Never give out your full Online Banking PIN, Passcode or Password to anyone, even a caller claiming to be from the police or your bank.
  2. Do not click on any link or open an attachment on any e-mail you receive which is unsolicited.
  3. Avoid letting someone you do not know have access to your computer, especially remotely.


*Figures taken from Office of National Statistics and Action Fraud:

  1. To find out how digitally safe you are, take the new quiz via the Barclays Digital Safety Hub
  2. The full Barclays Digital Safety Index findings are available here from Monday:
  3. The Barclays Digital Safety Index measured the ability of 6,000 UK adults to protect data, devices, accounts and to spot digital threats. On average, Brits scored 6.27 in the test (scores range from 1-10, with 10 being the maximum), but digital awareness scores for the oldest age bracket (over 65s) were 27 per cent higher than the youngest age group tested (18-24 year olds).

The research found that residents of London and Birmingham are most likely to have been scammed (23 per cent), while people in Bristol and London are the most likely to have been victims of fraud (28 per cent). In addition, these cities, together with Liverpool, are hotspots for impersonation scams.

  1. Fraud is defined as circumstances where the customer’s details are compromised and the perpetrator completes the transaction. In the case of scams, the customer is tricked or duped by the perpetrator into giving away their money.  The customer completes the transaction.
  2. If you think your Barclays account or card has been subject to fraud or a scam, please contact your bank and Action Fraud immediately. You can call Action Fraud on: 0300 123 2040 or contact them online. Barclays customers, or customers who have concerns relating to a Barclays account can contact us on 0345 050 4585*.

*To maintain a quality service, we may monitor and record phone calls. Calls to 0800 numbers are free when calling from a UK landline or personal mobile but charges may apply when calling from abroad. Calls to 03 numbers use free plan minutes if available. Otherwise, they cost the same as 01/02 prefix calls. Call charges

  1. This activity builds on Barclays Contactless Cash, which removes the risk of magnetic card skimming and distraction fraud. For more information, please see Contactless Cash press release

Digital Safety Score by UK NATION AND region

(scores from 1-10, with 10 being the maximum)

East Midlands 6.45
Yorkshire & Humber 6.39
North West England 6.35
South West England 6.33
East of England 6.30
South East England 6.30
Scotland 6.29
Wales 6.28
UK 6.27
West Midlands 6.22
North East England 6.16
Northern Ireland 6.12
London 5.89


City rankings by proportion of residents to have suffered from scams in the past 3 years:


Barclays is a transatlantic consumer, corporate and investment bank offering products and services across personal, corporate and investment banking, credit cards and wealth management, with a strong presence in our two home markets of the UK and the US.

With over 325 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 40 countries and employs approximately 120,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for customers and clients worldwide. For further information about Barclays, please visit our website

Barclays offers wealth and investment management products and services to its clients through Barclays Bank PLC. This email may relate to or be sent from other members of the Barclays Group.

The availability of products and services may be limited by the applicable laws and regulations in certain jurisdictions. The Barclays Group does not normally accept or offer business instructions via internet email. Any action that you might take upon this message might be at your own risk.

This email and any attachments are confidential and intended solely for the addressee and may also be privileged or exempt from disclosure under applicable law. If you are not the addressee, or have received this email in error, please notify the sender immediately, delete it from your system and do not copy, disclose or otherwise act upon any part of this email or its attachments.

Internet communications are not guaranteed to be secure or without viruses. The Barclays Group does not accept responsibility for any loss arising from unauthorised access to, or interference with, any Internet communications by any third party, or from the transmission of any viruses. Replies to this email may be monitored by the Barclays Group for operational or business reasons.

Any opinion or other information in this email or its attachments that does not relate to the business of the Barclays Group is personal to the sender and is not given or endorsed by the Barclays Group.

Barclays Bank PLC. Registered in England and Wales (registered no. 1026167).
Registered Office: 1 Churchill Place, London, E14 5HP, United Kingdom.

Barclays Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority ( Financial Services Register No. 122702).