Beware - the number of potentially fraudulent banking copycat websites is on the rise

Pexels | Anna Shvets; Online-Banking-Apps vereinfachen den Gebrauch der Kartenzahlung ungemein und bieten darüber hinaus einige weitere, einzigartige Vorteile
(Image credit: Pexels | Anna Shvets)

Thousands of potentially fraudulent banking copycat websites pose a significant threat to unsuspecting consumers, new research has claimed.

A report by consumer champion Which? reports more than 2,000 suspected banking copycat websites were identified in 2023 alone. These websites deceive victims into sharing personal information, such as payment details, by mimicking legitimate sites.

As a result, Which? is urging domain registrars to do more to prevent such scams, calling for new legal duties.

Online banking fraud is on the rise

Partnering with Oxford-based non-profit DNS Research Federation, Which?’s research into the prevalence of these scams uncovered more than 2,000 blocklisted URLs mimicking brands like Barclays, HSBC, Halifax, Lloyds, Monzo, Nationwide, Santander and Starling.

The findings saw Santander and Barclays emerging as the most frequently impersonated banking sites but despite efforts to combat fraudulent websites, Which? cautioned consumers that the reported figures might only scratch the surface, as many sites evade detection or operate for brief periods before being dismantled and reestablished slightly differently.

Until now, consumers have been advised to compare questionable sites against legitimate sites via known URLs. Assessing the text for typos and other errors has generally been a widespread way to identify many scam sites, but Which? warns that the rise of AI could improve scammers’ impersonation tactics.

Moreover, it was found that only one in four (27%) respondents were aware that they could use lookup services like to see when a site was registered, allowing them to spot brand-new websites pretending to be a long-established bank.

Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, Rocio Concha, commented: “Domain registrars have a much bigger role to play in the fight against online fraud. With an election just around the corner, the next government must make fighting fraud a national priority, and place new legal duties on these companies to prevent scammers from setting up these fraudulent copycat websites.”

In addition to exercising vigilance around site authenticity, consumers should beware of unsolicited and unexpected communications and prevent following links sent to them – typing in the bank’s URL and navigating to the desired page is generally considerably safer.

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!