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Identifying fraud: how criminals operate

Criminals want to steal your money. In order to debit money from your account, they try to obtain to your security codes or debit card. They use a variety of cunning methods to do so. It is useful to know what criminals want from you and how they go about getting it. We have therefore summarised the various methods they use. Have you been defrauded? Find out whether you can get your money back.

They send phishing emails

Phishing is the most common type of online fraud. Phishing involves criminals sending you an email which is very similar to an email from the bank. In the email, you are asked to click a link to a fake website which very closely resembles the bank's website. On the website, you are typically asked to enter your details and security codes. If you click the links in the email or on a fake website, the criminals can install malware on your computer without you even noticing.

They call 'on behalf of the bank'

Criminals can also call you and pose as bank employees. They often do this after you have received a phishing email and entered your details on a fake web page. Criminals can be very convincing when they have these details. They try to gain your trust and persuade you to reveal your security codes, which they can use to transfer funds from your account. 

  • We will never ask you for your PIN or log-in code. 

  • Do not provide any details at all - just hang up.

  • Report the suspicious call to us by calling 0900 - 81 70 (explanation of the rates). From outside the Netherlands, please call +31 10 241 17 23.

They call 'on behalf of Microsoft'

Some criminals represent themselves over the phone as an employee of a well-known company, such as Microsoft. They tell you that you might have a problem with your computer, and that they have to check your computer to fix the so-called problem. In order to get access to your computer, they send you software via email. The software allows the criminals to control your computer remotely. To gain your confidence, they pretend that they have to execute complex check-ups. They then claim that they 'can solve the problem’, but of course you first need to pay them by using Internet Banking. But beware: they still have access to your computer! When you confirm the payment, they will try to distract you. They might try to change the amount or the currency. And eventually, you will transfer a larger amount than you thought you were paying.

  • Do not act on unwanted requests from unknown parties concerning your computer.

  • If you are not sure whether the request is genuine, hang up and close Internet Banking.

  • Go to the official website and call the telephone number provided. 

  • Close the program that the criminals were using to control your computer.

  • Remove the software that the criminals sent you.

They try to infect your computer with a virus

By infecting your computer with a virus (also known as malware), criminals can gain access to your money and banking affairs. By doing so, they can transfer money from your account to their own accounts, for example. How do you prevent criminals from installing malware on your computer?

  • Never click attachments or links in an unexpected email.

  • Stick to the five security regulations

  • Always install the latest software updates.
  • Use an up-to-date virus scanner and always install updates.

For more information about malware or viruses, please refer to the diagram (in Dutch)

They try to gain access to your debit card

Criminals want to gain access to your debit card. They sometimes ask you, by telephone or email, to send them your debit card. You also need to be careful when entering your PIN at payment terminals. Criminals sometimes place devices or small cameras on the card slots of cash machines (skimming), or they distract you while you are entering your PIN and quickly swap your card. Please be aware of the following:

  • Do not enter your PIN if you notice anything different about the cash machine's appearance, for example if there is a device on the card slot that was not there before.

  • Do not enter your PIN if you feel unsafe at a cash machine

  • If the cash machine swallows your card, block the card immediately. Do not leave the cash machine and do not accept help from others.

  • Do not get distracted while entering your PIN

  • Beware of people who say that they want to help you.

  • If you think that there is something wrong with the cash machine, contact the bank that owns that particular cash machine.

They send fake invoices and fines

Criminals use a variety of methods to try to get you to transfer money to their own accounts, for example by sending you a fake invoice 'on behalf of a well-known company' such as a telephone company. They often pressurise you by saying that you have arrears. They then threaten to charge you additional fees or to contact a debt-collection agency. Criminals also pose as the Centraal Justitieel Incassobureau (CJIB) and send fake traffic fines. They sometimes falsify the account number on a real invoice which you actually are expecting. Always be on the alert:

  • Google the company's official website. Check who sent the invoice and the account number stated on the invoice.

  • Find out whether you or one of your family members has been expecting the invoice.

  • If you think it is suspicious, google the company's official website and call the telephone number provided on their website.

They sell you something but you never receive the delivery

Criminals also operate as sellers. They sell you something, but after you have completed the payment, you never receive your purchase. They do this on websites such as Marktplaats or in online shops which they delete again after a few days. Therefore, always be on the alert. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is!

  • Is the seller known to the police? Check the seller before you complete the purchase.

  • Do the photos appear to be genuine? Could they have been stolen? Check to see whether the photos have also been used on other websites. 

  • Identify a suspicious offer. If the price seems too good to be true, you need to be particularly cautious. Is the product you are about to purchase actually real? Is it an illegal version?

  • Have you been defrauded? Always take a screenshot of the advert or website. You must inform the police and report the fraud incident

They ask you for a loan, as a 'friend'

Criminals are eager to befriend you on social media. For example, they could hack one of your actual friend's accounts and ask you to loan them money, or pose as a new friend on social media, in web chats or on a dating site. They then attempt to gain your trust. Eventually, they will ask you to transfer funds so that they can buy a train or plane ticket, for example. You will probably never get that money back.

Note: unfortunately, if you transfer funds but it later turns out that you have been defrauded, we cannot reimburse the financial damages since you issued the payment order yourself.

They think up new ways to defraud you

Criminals keep thinking up new ways to defraud you. Do not let them catch you unawares. For all information relating to fraud, including the latest types of fraud, please visit

If you are not sure whether you have been a victim of fraud, please call one of our staff on 0900 - 81 70 (explanation of the rates). From outside the Netherlands, please call +31 10 241 17 23.

Contact us (in the Netherlands)

Contact us (from outside the Netherlands)

Frequently Asked Questions about secure banking

  • How can criminals find out my email address?

    Finding out an email address is not difficult. Criminals do not need to know you in order to do so. There are various methods they can use to do it, such as hacking a database containing email addresses. Companies that do not keep their computer security up to date are easy targets for this kind of fraud. Criminals can also use a programme that automatically enters email addresses on websites to check whether they are valid email addresses. Criminals often buy lists of email addresses on illegal marketplaces.

  • How do criminals know that I do my banking with ABN AMRO?

    In most cases, criminals do not know which bank you do your banking with - they just have your email address. They select a bank from which to send a phishing email and hope that you do your banking with that bank. Whether or not you do is a matter of coincidence. You can also receive fake emails on behalf of banks with which you do not have an account.

  • Why do I receive emails from a bank with which I do not have an account?

    In many cases, criminals have no idea which bank you do your banking with - they just have your email address. They select a bank from which to send you a phishing email and hope that you do your banking with that bank.

  • How does malware or a virus work?

    Criminals can install malware on your computer:

    • if you have visited a web page which has a virus;

    • if you have clicked an attachment in a phishing email which has a virus;

    • if you use out-of-date software;

    • if you do not use a virus scanner or your virus scanner is out of date.

    Criminals can use malware to gain access to your money and banking affairs. By doing so, they can transfer money from your account to their own accounts.