Swedish police warn of scams using BankID to drain your account

Police have warned people using Sweden's major electronic ID scheme BankID to be wary of phone calls from scammers pretending to work for the bank and police.

Swedish police warn of scams using BankID to drain your account
Sweden's BankID app. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The calls typically involves you being told that your bank account may have been hacked. The caller, pretending to be a police officer, informs you that they should expect a call from your bank.

A second scammer then calls, pretending to be from the bank and asking you to log in to your account via BankID. But the callers have already typed in your Swedish personal identification number on the bank's website, so when you log in with your BankID password you instead log them into your account.

The scammers then ask you to try logging in again later – at which point you end up inadvertently transferring all your money to another account which they have set up.

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“We're seeing an increase in fraud targeting bank customers. Several people every day get called by someone pretending to be from the bank,” Jan Olsson of the national police's fraud department said in an official statement issued by the police earlier this winter, warning of daily calls to victims.

He told the Expressen tabloid on Wednesday that the scammers currently appear to be targeting elderly men living in well-off areas of Sweden, such as Båstad, Höllviken and Vellinge in southern Sweden, but all bank customers are advised to be vigilant.

In one case they managed to get their hands on 900,000 kronor ($107,000), reports Expressen.

“The caller gives a very credible impression. Often they introduce themselves with common Swedish names,” said the police's fraud department in their warning.

Bank ID is an electronic identification system originally developed by banks and today used across Swedish society, including government authorities, businesses and banks.

Sometimes scammers also ask victims to give them their bank login details. However, neither police nor the banks need customers' assistance to freeze the account. Police advise bank customers to hang up and call the bank on their number advertised online.