In 2020, fraudsters scammed UK consumers a whopping £479m through fake texts on COVID-19 vaccines, missed parcel deliveries and lockdown fines. Unsuspecting customers wired 5% more payments to criminals in 2020 compared to 2019. This is according to data made public by UK Finance.
Fraudsters generally use emails and fake texts to harvest as many personal details as they possibly can to use in their schemes. In 2020, 43% of the authorised fraud transfers were intercepted and returned to the victims by banks and finance providers. This means 57% of the funds were lost and never to be recovered.
Anyone can become a victim of bank fraud. However, if you take time to gather as much information as you can on how to identify and stop these scams in their tracks, chances of you falling into their traps can be greatly reduced. Here are some tips to start you off.
Requests for Personal Information Over the Phone
Telephone scams are one of the hardest to spot. Fraudsters may call you and purport to be from the bank and that they are doing a routine fraud check. They could also claim that your bank account has a problem and they are trying to help you fix it.
To further convince you that they are 100% legitimate, they may prompt you to call your bank using the number indicated on your debit or credit card. However, any attempt to do so will see them intercept the call in a technique called vishing.
To stop fraudsters from telephone scamming you, ensure you don’t give personal details like PINs, account numbers or card details over the phone. In case you feel harassed or intimidated immediately hang up and call the bank with their official line not what the scammers provide you with.
Emails scams are on the rise with people falling victim each time. These emails pretend to be coming from your bank or other related authorities. They may even come complete with logos and phone numbers that look official.
The purpose of these emails is for you to click on a link provided in the email that takes you to a website that is fake. Alternatively, opening the emails may expose your computer to malicious software that steals your personal details including your name, bank details and address.
If you receive an email that you suspect or didn’t expect, don’t open it. And in case you do, don’t click on any attachment or link. If you are suspicious of any email or what it is asking, call your bank or forward the email to them. Also, ensure your antivirus software is always up to date.
Pressures to Act Quickly
Some fraudsters have mastered the art of pushing their victims into a corner. They either use threats or give you limited time to act. Typically, your bank or anyone shouldn’t rush you into making a hasty decision on anything.
Whenever you feel pressured, don’t act. If it is a phone call, just hang up and think through the conversion. If it is a sales promotion, confirm first that the deal is genuine. Even if the offer is good, no sales staff should corner you into making a decision. It is perfectly okay to step back and take your time before acting on the promotion.
For instance, if you apply for instant guarantor loans online, you will be qualified and approved within 24 hours and your loan amount will be deposited automatically into the account details provided during the application. Don’t fall victim to scammers telling you that you must deposit some money into a fictitious account before your loan is approved.
Other stressor events include claims that you must make payment through a specific method for you to qualify for a deal or a claim that someone in your family will be hurt if you don’t send in money immediately.
Cloned Bank Website Addresses
Criminals have been known to clone bank websites. They use a website address that is similar in all aspects to your bank’s official address. Then, they deliver the fake URL through spam emails so you can open and click.
Thwarting website scams requires that you be careful when checking the banks URL for any subtle differences before clicking and transacting. You can also bookmark your bank’s URL to ensure you always access your bank portal from a verified link.
Researchers working at DomainTools found that HSBC had 110 fake sites out there, Lloyds had 22, Natwest had 66, while Standard Chartered and Barclays had 74 each.
Unauthorised Purchases on Credit Card Statement
Credit card fraud happens in several ways including card skimming where fraudsters clone or counterfeit your card. This can happen in a store or cash machine where the information is copied from the magnetic strip of your card. Once they gain access to your account, they can either use your card to make purchases or transfer money from your account.
When you try making a payment and your card gets rejected or your card statements show purchases that you have no idea what they are for, chances are high that you’ve been scammed.
To prevent cases of credit card theft from happening, you should always check your credit card statement, don’t share your PIN, and avoid outdoor ATMs if you can. Also, avoid putting your card in machines that look tampered with or give your card information over the phone.
Request For Help in Transferring Money
You may be contacted by someone purporting to be from another country and that they are having problems transferring money from their account. The fraudsters may then ask for your account details so that they transfer the money to you for onward transfer to an account of their choice.
Alternatively, the money transfer scammers may ask you to send some fees to a designated account so that their funds can be released. As a reward, you may be promised a share or commission of the funds. Don’t give in to such requests.
Bank scams have become commonplace, and they are getting trickier by day. Whether it is requests for personal information, unsolicited emails, cloned bank addresses or unauthorised purchases on credit cards, the tactics can be hard to spot. However, armed with the right information, you can tell a scam from a distance and avoid it.