Protecting your money from scammers

Money 2019-8-9
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The latest scams you should be aware of and how to protect yourself.

Fraudsters and the scams they use to trick people out of their money are becoming more sophisticated, so to help keep you and your money safe, we caught up with our Financial Crime team to find out all you need to know about the latest scams and how to avoid them…

How much money has been lost to scams?

According to UK Finance’s ‘Fraud: The Facts’ report, in 2018 consumers lost a total of £844.8 million from “unauthorised fraud” (i.e. the account holder not providing any authorisation on a transaction) and £354.3 million authorised scams (i.e. the account holder authorising a payment to another account controlled by a fraudster)  - a huge 16% increase compared to the previous year.

Common scams to be aware of

There are so many different scams being used to get hold of your information and money.  Here are the most common ones to look out for:

Phishing email scams

Most people are used to deleting spam emails but what about those sent from your bank or a service that you use? Scammers are becoming increasingly clever and are now cloning legitimate emails in order to send ones that look identical to those from big names.

Many of these emails will encourage you to click a link or open an attachment in order to download malware onto your device. Others will tell you to update your personal details or change security information which will be captured by the criminal once entered.

To avoid falling victim to email phishing scams, always double-check the address that the email has been sent from, as malicious emails will often have an obscure email address. But be careful, some may use what, at first glance, appears to be a genuine email address, which on closer inspection contains a subtle misspelling. If this is the case, immediately report the email as a phishing attempt, then delete from your inbox and from your deleted folder.

If the email itself looks genuine but the content seems suspicious (for example, from a bank you’re not a customer with or a service you don’t use such as iTunes), then chances are it’s a scam. Contact the company the email claims to be from to see if you can verify it as real or fake. If you’re unsure about an email, never click on any links or open any attachments.

Phone scams

Similar to the email scam, fraudsters will try their luck over the phone.  These types of scams are on the rise with reported volumes increasing every year.

Never disclose any personal information to anyone asking you to make a transaction over the phone and hang up if they are insistent or rushing you to make a decision.

A genuine bank or organisation will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, full password or to move money to another account for “safekeeping”.

Only give out your personal or financial details to use a service that you have given your consent to, that you trust and that you are expecting to be contacted by.

If you’re unsure, just hang up immediately and contact your bank using the number on the back of your card or statement.

ATM scams

ATMs are usually safe to use but it pays to remain vigilant as you may not know you’ve just been scammed until it’s too late.

Skimming cards is a firm favourite amongst scammers as it’s so easy to do. It involves devices being attached to cash machines that can skim your card and access data.

Alternatively, the device will retain your card, not release your cash and when you walk away, if you have not adequately shielded your pin, it will have been recorded on a hidden camera, therefore now allowing the scammers access to both your card and PIN.

When using a cash point, remain vigilant and don’t use it if it looks like it has been tampered with in any way. Also, keep your bank’s emergency contact details to hand, so that if a machine does keep hold of your card, or if you believe your details are at risk, you can contact your bank ASAP whilst staying at the machine. Do not attempt to remove the device from the machine as criminals have been known to attack victims who tried.

Holiday scams

During the summer months, don’t get ripped off by scams targeting those who are booking a holiday. Scammers will cold call or email, pretending to be a travel company, offering low prices on holidays to get hold of your personal info and bank details.

The golden rule is that if it looks too good to be true, it usually is. Research the company using ATOL and ABTA databases and ask friends if it’s something they’re familiar with.

Never pay for something online using a direct bank transfer, as this offers little protection against fraud. Also, don’t disclose any personal information over the phone or on email without verifying that the company is genuine.

Some companies will claim to know you using basic information such as your name or phone number, however, these are easy to find with some quick research and doesn’t prove that they are genuine.

Social media scams

According to recent data, 21 people are defrauded every minute due to sharing too much information on social media.

So next time you’re writing that Facebook post or uploading your latest picture on Instagram, think about what you’re sharing and who can see it, especially if your profiles aren’t set to private.

Another thing to keep in mind is to double-check the background of your photos for any private info eg. Letters, bank cards or driving license. Fraudsters can follow your posts and piece together your personal information over time leading to possible identity theft.

Job scams

Fraudsters find increasingly creative ways in which to target their victims. A recently reported method involves victims being approached by a ‘recruitment firm’ who have identified them as being an ideal candidate for a job, with the offer of an interview.

During the process of organising the interview, their personal details are requested to be uploaded to the ‘candidate website’, including a request for bank details, to allow salary payments to be arranged.

These details once completed, are then used by the ‘recruitment firm/criminal’ to make personal loan applications in the victim’s name without their knowledge. The loan proceeds are paid to the victim’s bank account, following which the recruiter advises them that unfortunately someone’s salary has been paid to their account in error and can they send the money back. Unbeknown to them the account quoted for the funds to be returned to is controlled by the scammer. 

Less common scams to be aware of

Google Calendar Scam

Similar to phishing emails, analysts at Kaspersky have reported spam events and invitations being sent to Google Calendars users, as a more subtle way to get malicious links in front of you.

Invitations will often have something in the title like “You’ve received a cash reward” or “there’s a money transfer in your name”. If you’re curious enough to click on the links, a whole host of dangerous software will be installed on your device.

 The best way to prevent this from happening is to change your calendar settings from of “automatically add invitations” to “no, only show invitations to which I’ve responded”.

eBay scams

Buying and selling on eBay is a fab way to make some quick cash from stuff you don’t use anymore but unfortunately, it has also created new ways to be ripped off.

The most popular being that a buyer will claim to Paypal that they’ve paid extra to have something sent to another country but the item was never received. Always get postage confirmation so that you won’t be forced to refund the buyer.

Another way is for buyers to claim that the item you’ve sent isn’t working or not what they ordered, and request to return it for a refund. Not only will you have to give them their money back but you will have to pay for the postage to receive either a damaged item which is unsellable or nothing at all.

It pays to be wary and always protect yourself with evidence of the items you sell.

Wine investment fraud

People who invested in wine several years ago are now being cold-called and emailed by scammers claiming they can re-sell the wine for an insurance or shipping fee.

When companies go into liquidation, all their information becomes public knowledge and is easily accessible online. This makes it easier for fraud to occur as they will know all the details of your transactions so if you’re contacted by someone claiming to know a lot about your investments but are asking for a fee, stop all correspondence immediately. It’s not worth it!

What to do if you think you’ve been scammed

No matter how careful you are, sometimes we may end up being the victim of a scam but don’t worry. Here’s what you can do to sort it out:

Contact your card or account provider to let them know and freeze your money. They will also help you in recovering any loss of funds.

Hitachi Hints and Tips is intended to be informative and interesting. It does not constitute financial advice, and you should always do further research when making any financial decisions. All information was correct at date of publication.

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