New financial scams helpline.

A new emergency fraud hotline has been set up to help tackle surging financial scams in the UK.

UK citizens who believe someone is maybe trying to trick them into handing over money or personal details can now be automatically connected with their bank’s fraud prevention service by dialing 159.

The service will work in a similar way to non-emergency police (101) or NHS (111) inquiries, offering a memorable and secure number to receive help and advice quickly.

Anyone who receives a call or message from someone asking for money to be transferred or any other financial matter is being urged to hang up immediately and dial 159. They will then be connected to their bank’s fraud prevention service to advise them on what to do.

The scheme is being sponsored by Stop Scams UK, a coalition of banking and technology companies. It is initially being run as a 1-year pilot, and if successful, will be made into a universal service.

Currently, the banks involved in the initiative are Barclays, Lloyds (including Halifax and Bank of Scotland), NatWest (including Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank), Santander and Starling Bank. These banks represent over 70 per cent of UK primary current account holders. TSB will join up in January, and Stop Scams UK is hoping that more will sign up over the course of the pilot.

Most major consumer telephone firms are taking part, and more than 80 per cent of UK mobiles and landlines will be able to use 159 at the outset. It is hoped this will reach 100 per cent during the pilot.