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I live in the UK and through inheritance I have acquired a large amount of money (over 200K).

I will be soon investing this money in property. But while all the conveyancing process is going on it will have to stay in my current account. I am worried about how safe this is. I'm specifically worried about cybercrime. I do hear in the media that the threat of cybercrime in a bank is particularly high. A situation could occur where I cannot access my funds electronically.

Is storing this money in the bank my only option? I will have to release it to my solicitor once the property purchase completes, but this could be months away.

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    Cybercrime is NOT, despite what movies and fiction tells you, the act of hackers "breaking in" digital systems and taking your money. Insurance covers this, and so does legal liability. You carry no risk*. Real cybercrime are scams, and you legally authorize the deduction of the funds and are fully liable for your actions.
    – Nelson
    Jul 15, 2022 at 8:53
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    * or risk that you can do anything about... government collapse will mean you lose your money, but you have bigger problems to worry about at that point.
    – Nelson
    Jul 15, 2022 at 8:53
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    The media calls it "cybercrime" because it's a lot more palatable than "You idiots keep falling for scams and authorizing transfers."
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jul 15, 2022 at 14:01
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    @Blueriver so we actually believe people that says "asking for a friend"?
    – Nelson
    Jul 16, 2022 at 3:29
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    @fraxinus: no, money is almost always singular. (I can not think of a case where it is plural, but I'm playing it safe here.)
    – user132647
    Jul 17, 2022 at 11:45

4 Answers 4

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I do hear in the media that the threat of cybercrime in a bank is particularly high.

The media says all sorts of things. The biggest risk is you. For those few months, don't believe anyone calling you and saying that they are from your bank. Don't believe anyone who says you need to transfer your funds out. If you get an email from your solicitor telling you to use a different account for funds transfer, don't believe it - contact the solicitor by another means to check.

A situation could occur where I cannot access my funds electronically.

If you're worried about hacking, then that's a good thing!

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    +1. Most "hacks" are actually social engineering attacks.
    – littleadv
    Jul 14, 2022 at 21:38
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    Plus real hacks are covered by insurance. If someone really hacked into a bank and "took" all the money, insurance steps in, liability laws step in. The bank's customer doesn't take the hit. Even criminal activities like embezzlement and fraud are covered by insurance, so "hacks" that hurts the customer are ones where the customers legally authorized the fund withdrawal.
    – Nelson
    Jul 15, 2022 at 8:55
  • @littleadv: I would even say that the hacks targeted toward everyday users are all based on phishing. As an information security professional, I cannot readily think about an attack that would not be one. The attacks on infrastructure will be handled by the ISP, the rare ones on end-user devices, when they are actually feasible, should be fixed with automatic patching. The rest (cameras, ...) - a normal user has zero chance to fix them.
    – WoJ
    Jul 15, 2022 at 14:37
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    Fix "for those few months" to "forever". Jul 15, 2022 at 18:26
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    In general, only trust contacts for financial transactions in which you initiate contact. For larger transactions going to your bank in person is always worth it. Never complete a large transaction over the phone or email.
    – TCooper
    Jul 15, 2022 at 20:06
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Not addressing cybercrime, but thinking of other "safety" issues.

Your money is safe in just your current account for a period of 6 months, as a Temporary High Balance.

However, after those 6 months you should be aware that only the first £85,000 (for an individual account) or £170,000 (for a joint account) would be covered under the fscs cover scheme.

The risk of a bank failing is quite small but since the amount you've specified is higher than that amount, then you might want to consider splitting the money into separate accounts at different banks.

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    >The risk of a bank failing is quite small. Call me a conspiracy theorist but that was said before 09/08 as well. While I agree that the failure of one specific bank might be small, I wouldn't count it out
    – SirHawrk
    Jul 15, 2022 at 8:49
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    @SirHawrk: How many UK banks failed in 09/08? Even then the risk of any particular person experiencing bank failure was very low. Jul 15, 2022 at 10:30
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    From 2008-2012 in the US alone there were 465. From 2003-2007 there were 10. Edit: My bad I misread UK for US. According to this; fscs.org.uk/news/fscs-news/book-closed-on-2008-banking-crisis 4 million bank accounts in the UK were caught in the 08 debacle
    – SirHawrk
    Jul 15, 2022 at 11:06
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    @Pharap - Northern Rock was what made me aware of these sort of issues (thankfully not personally); However, some people may just have seen the headlines which is why I chose to write an answer about the cover scheme here. Jul 15, 2022 at 13:58
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    An important thing to understand is that the "bank" covered by the FSCS is not a single brand but a single institution, so when splitting your money you need to pay attention to who operates the account. MoneySavingExpert explains this distinction well, and always lists the covered institution on their Best Buy pages.
    – IMSoP
    Jul 15, 2022 at 17:08
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The risk for giving hackers access to your bank account is quite low if you follow these rules:

  1. Your banks fraud department doesn't call you. (I actually asked Barclay's fraud department after a reasonably clever attempt, how I can distinguish between a real call and a scam. Their answer: It's a scam. We don't call you). If you get a call from your banks fraud department, it's a scam.

  2. Your bank never ever needs your passcodes, PIN numbers etc. They are the bank. They can get at everything without your help. So if anyone asks you for this information, it's a scam.

  3. Your bank never asks you to move money into another account to make it safe. They are the bank. They can block your account at any time. Or create a new account for you and move your money, if they wanted to, but there is no reason. If anyone asks you to move your money it is a scam.

  4. Calling your bank: To make sure you are actually calling the bank, hang up the phone, call someone you know personally and talk to them, hang up, then call the bank using a published number (for example on the back of your bank card). Scammers can pretend that their calls come from your bank. They can also keep a call running when you hang up. That's why you call someone else (and talk to them), so the scammer's call is definitely hung up, and then you call a published number, so you will talk to the bank.

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    I've had calls from both HSBC's and First Direct's fraud (or similar) departments before – the principle of caution is still important but it's not out of the question for this to happen.
    – dbmag9
    Jul 15, 2022 at 12:34
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    @ReinstateMonica the call can as well be legitimate. As in "There is an outstanding issue XXXXXX. Your card or account or internet banking is blocked for good. Visit any of our offices at your convenience to sort it out. Your money are safe. ".
    – fraxinus
    Jul 15, 2022 at 15:00
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    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact, I've gotten real calls from my bank about potential fraud. The conversation went something like this: Them: "Hello, this is the fraud department with [bank]. Did you just authorize a charge of $several thousand on your credit card?" Me: "I just placed an order for a new computer." Them: "Thanks. We'll let the transaction through."
    – Mark
    Jul 16, 2022 at 2:15
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    They can also keep a call running when you hang up What does that mean? (technically speaking)
    – WoJ
    Jul 16, 2022 at 14:47
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    Your banks fraud department doesn't call you Yes it does. Mine (Boursorama in France) called me twice to confirm that the transaction (they named the transaction and the amount) should go through. To which I said "yes" and that was all.
    – WoJ
    Jul 16, 2022 at 14:48
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There is a risk that the bank that holds your funds suffers a major IT systems failure. If that happens, you might be unable to send or receive any funds, and if it went on for long enough, it is possible that your property deal would fall through.

I am in a similar situation and this is the risk that scares me the most, because I have absolutely no control over it. I have not been able to find any recent statistics but this gives you some idea of the scale of the issue as of a few years ago:

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/mar/04/uk-banks-hit-daily-by-it-failures-halting-payments-says-which

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  • I also remember an UK friend sending me an article about 7 years ago. Something about some banks having a glitch and the savings of all the clients dropped to 0 or something.
    – Clockwork
    Jul 17, 2022 at 14:25

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