Beware of new bank scam, Swedish police warn

Swedish police warned residents on Monday to be aware of a new widespread telephone scam aimed at obtaining sensitive financial information.

Beware of new bank scam, Swedish police warn
Photo: Depositphotos
In a press release, police cautioned that fraudsters have been contacting bank customers and claiming that there is an urgent issue that requires immediate access to customers’ BankID, bank accounts or banking codes. Posing as representatives of the bank, a government authority or the police, the scammers ask for the sensitive information and then immediately start wiping out the bank accounts of those they con. 
Police cautioned residents to never release such information, as they are “the keys to your money”. 
“You can protect yourself by never giving out your personal codes or account information and by never using BankID at the prompting of someone who contacts you,” Jan Olsson of the National Fraud Center said in the press release. 
“You wouldn’t give your house keys to someone just because they claim to be a repairman,” Olsson added. 
According to police, the number of reported fraud cases has doubled in the past few years and there are now more than 200,000 incidents reported annually. 
In an effort to reverse the trend, the Swedish police and the nation’s largest banks have teamed up to inform residents of the dangers and to encourage bank customers to be more vigilant in guarding their financial information. 
Police said that the best way to protect against the new wave of bank scams is to simply never give out your personal codes or bank information and to never use BankID at the prompting of anyone who contacts you. If you receive a suspicious phone call, the best course of action is to hang up and then contact your bank’s customer service to check on the veracity of the call and report the suspicious activity. 

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Which Swedish banks still let foreign citizens apply for a BankID?

New rules mean that foreign citizens may no longer be able to apply for their first BankID online. And some banks have as a result blocked the service entirely for those who don't hold a Swedish passport or national ID. Here's what The Local has been told by banks.

Which Swedish banks still let foreign citizens apply for a BankID?
BankID is the most common form of electronic ID in Sweden. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

More than eight million people in Sweden use electronic IDs in their daily lives, to do their banking, shop online or access vital public services. Issued by ten banks, BankID is the most widely used. But as The Local writes HERE, a recent rule change requires new users to have a Swedish passport or a national ID card issued by the Swedish police to verify the user’s identity when applying online for their first BankID (existing BankIDs won’t be revoked).

This is because these IDs contain a scannable chip, which can be validated digitally, meaning that the applicant can prove their identity online. But these forms of ID are only available to Swedish citizens, and other generally valid IDs – such as an ID card issued by the Swedish Tax Agency or a Swedish driving licence, which are both available to foreigners – does not contain that chip.

However, it remains possible for banks to accept these IDs, which some banks in Sweden have chosen to do.

The Local contacted ten Swedish banks to ask if and how their foreign customers can get a BankID. Scroll down to read more. Please note that as before, a BankID can only be issued to people who are customers of the bank and have a Swedish personal number.


A foreign citizen with a valid Swedish ID (such as an ID card issued by the Tax Agency) and a personal number (personnummer) can as before get a BankID from Handelsbanken at an in-person meeting. A Swedish passport or national ID from the police are only required for remote applications, such as online. “These are the only documents that we can check and verify at a distance. This routine is in line with the authorities’ new guidelines for issuing ID documents,” a Handelsbanken digital security solutions officer told The Local.


It is possible to use an existing BankID to verify your identity, but if you don’t have one you need a Swedish passport or national ID card issued by the police. The Tax Agency ID or a Swedish driving licence are not valid.

A spokesperson told The Local: “Each bank must answer for its own checks and requirements, and we are aware that there are banks that are able to for example verify the customer’s identity at an office, which ICA Banken cannot. (…) We have assessed the risk we see based on our capacity as a distance bank, and decided that we were not able to offer driving licences as an option in certain circumstances where the customer does not have a previous BankID.”


Nordea writes on its website: “If you don’t have a Swedish passport or a Swedish national ID card issued by the Swedish police, call customer service and we will help you. In a few cases, you have to visit one of our branches for in-person identification.”


A Swedish passport or national ID card is required to download a mobile BankID online, but people who have neither can visit one of Länsförsäkringar’s branches. “There, they can use a valid Swedish SIS-marked ID card (for example the Tax Agency’s ID card or a Swedish driving licence) to identify themselves. When their physical ID has been checked, the office staff will help the customer download a mobile BankID to their phone,” a spokesperson told The Local.


If a customer applies for a BankID via SEB’s internet bank, they may in some cases be asked to verify their identity using a Swedish passport or national ID card. But if you have neither you can book a meeting at one of SEB’s branches instead. “You then show your ID (for example driving licence or SIS ID card) and get a mobile BankID from the bank,” a spokesperson told The Local.


A Skandia customer service officer told The Local that you need a Swedish passport or national ID issued by the police to download a BankID for the first time, but stressed that people who have neither of these can still use their banking services by instead downloading a certificate to their web reader.

Sparbanken Syd

Only customers with a Swedish passport or national ID card issued by the police can get a BankID.


Swedbank still accepts valid IDs other than passports and the police’s national ID, so a foreign citizen who has a Tax Agency-issued ID card and a personal number can order a BankID if they visit a Swedbank branch.


Ålandsbanken’s customer services told The Local that all customers who need a BankID for the first time have to visit one of its branches in person. “Those who do not meet BankID’s criteria for mobile BankID can apply for a mobile security ID (Mobilt SäkerhetsID) with us, if they can verify their identity in a reliable way (they too need to visit the office),” said a customer service officer, adding that the latter gives customers’ access to the bank’s own digital services, but cannot be used for identification in other situations.

Danske Bank had not responded to requests for comments by the time of publication.