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How to protect yourself from fraud

November 30, 2017

I was invited to a Mumsnet event this week to learn about how we should all take five and think when making financial transactions as fraud is increasingly becoming more sophisticated and targeting us all.You have probably heard about it on the news, seen stories on Watchdog or read about it in the paper.

Someone has unknowingly given their bank details away on a phone call, a house deposit was lost, e-mails which appear genuine are actually scams and this is just a small list!

My preconceptions of this kind of fraudulent activity was that it happened to older people, my Grandad as an example who was victim to a financial fraud and that as an educated woman wouldn’t ever let it happen to me. BUT, all of the evidence suggests it’s not just the elderly who are falling victim, it is ALL of us, no matter how well educated you are.

The Mumsnet Influencer team at the Take Five event

The #takefive event

Myself and a group of bloggers headed down to Huckletree in Shoreditch to the Take Five event to learn about fraud, what kind of fraud there is and importantly how you can protect yourself.

We heard from three experts, Phil Robertson, head of Future Bank at Tesco Bank, Elaine Ross, head of fraud at TSB and Tony Blake, senior fraud prevention officer. Talya from ‘Motherhood Real Deal’ and Alison from ‘Not another mummy blog’ were also present to ask some great questions alongside Carrie Longton, co-founder of Mumsnet.

The panel discussion at the Mumsnet Take Five event

It was a really interesting panel discussion, with lots of good questions from Carrie, Talya, Alison and Mumsnetters who were watching live. There was lots to learn, from how to recognise a scam, what kind of activity is happening right now and what you should do if faced with one of the scenarios.

Here are my outtakes from the discussion.

What are the different types of fraud?

Push​ ​payments

A push payment is a specific kind of scam where consumers are socially engineered into authorising the transfer of funds to an account they believe belongs to a legitimate payee or organisation. For example a customer discusses making a booking on Airbnb and receives an email request to transfer a payment into an account with the details included in the email, instead of going through the usual provider’s channels. Once the money has been transferred by the customer, this is a form of push payment fraud in which the bank is not liable to cover the loss of money, because it is an authorised and willing transfer of funds.

Clicks​ ​and​ ​links

Sometimes a text might not be from who you think. ‘Smishing’ is when criminals pretend a message is from your bank or another organisation you trust. Criminals highjack a number you recognise and trust, so it appears in a thread you already have with your bank/other organisation.

When they get in contact on these numbers or e-mails they will usually tell you there has been fraud on your account and will ask you to deal with it by calling a number or visiting a fake website to update your personal details. Criminals don’t just try and contact you by phone and text, they also ‘phish’, contacting you by email too.

Always be suspicious of unsolicited emails that are supposedly from your bank or other trusted organisation because the address can easily be faked. Never automatically click on any links they contain either, not before stopping to check if they seem genuine first. A good way to check if it looks suspicious is to hover over the URL – has it got lots of strange characters? Does it look like the URL of your bank? If you are unsure, don’t proceed without checking.

Sharing​ ​personal​ ​information

Sharing personal information is a specific scam where conversations with customers are engineered to gather information from a customer that is used to defraud them. The key things to remember are to always question uninvited approaches and never give out personal or financial details, in case it’s a scam. Always contact the company you think the call is from directly using a known email or phone number

Well-known​ ​fraud​ ​and​ ​scams

  • Email from HMRC offering a refund
  • A call from your bank about fraud asking you to move your money to a safe account
  • An email from a foreign prince offering untold riches if money is transferred to them now
  • Message from WhatsApp asking you to input financial information in order to continue to use the service Call from a broadband provider to say the internet connection is running slow and their engineer can ‘fix’ the problem by taking control of your computer
  • Email from Amazon asking you to disclose personal information to reactivate your account
  • Text message offering money off at a supermarket if a link in the message is clicked on
  • Call from a builder or contractor asking for money to be paid directly to a new bank account
  • Email from your utility provider offering a refund
  • Student Loans Company email stating loans have been suspended due to incomplete student information

Who are the fraudsters targeting?

Everybody. Without meaning to sound scary, they will target anyone. It’s not just the older demographic, Mumsnet research showed one in five women had experienced a fraudulent approach at least once a day. As busy Mums we might sometimes feel rushed and stressed into giving details away, so the advice really is to stop and take five if you get approached.

What should I do if I think I am being scammed or have been?

  • If you think you are being scammed, STOP and think. Pick up a different phone and call a trusted number, go into your bank, find a way to contact that organisation securely and in a way you trust. If you are unsure, do not proceed.
  • If you have been called by your bank, insurance company etc and asked for details STOP and say you’ll call them back. Fraudsters can stay on the line so call on a different phone.
  • If you think you have been a victim of a scam, Phil Robertson’s advice was to ACT FAST. Bank transfers are really fast these days but on occasions they can stop payments, but you need to be quick. If you’re worried get in touch.
  • Always take five and act calmly, your bank details are your details, don’t give them away to someone you don’t know.

Top tips 

  • Trust your instinct and ask who is this, what are they asking for?
  • Cash points – always shield your pin when taking out cash, this is the best way to stay safe
  • Websites – PayPal and Apple Pay are good ways of paying. Look at the site, does it look genuine?
  • Credit cards can offer more protection on purchases, so try and use one if you can

These fraudsters are organised criminal gangs. They are sophisticated and for them it’s a business. As consumers the best thing we can do to protect ourselves from them is to always take five and stop and think who are we talking to before we give anything away. They will know lots about us so always check you know who THEY are.

For more information, visit the Take Five website.

Sarah x

*Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post* 

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  • Reply Paola December 7, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    Thanks for sharing these precious information. I feel our generation didn’t receive an appropriate education about life online. It’s important for us to be informed also to train our kids! #ThursdayTeam

    • Reply Sarah December 16, 2017 at 7:15 am

      I agree, we are definitely learning as we go. ‪Thanks for reading xx‬

  • Reply Pip Milburn December 7, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    This is such a useful post. I’m always a bit wary about emails regarding money or reactivating accounts etc, especially those claiming to be from PayPal or ebay.

    Thanks for highlighting this important topic xx


    • Reply Sarah December 16, 2017 at 7:14 am

      Me too, very wary even more so now. ‪Thanks for reading xx‬

  • Reply Sasha December 8, 2017 at 2:06 am

    THIS IS VERY FRIGHTENING!! Thank you for the education.

    • Reply Sarah December 16, 2017 at 7:14 am

      Hope it helped. ‪Thanks for reading xx‬

  • Reply Emma : Ettie and me December 9, 2017 at 1:30 am

    All I retesting and yes scary stuff!! Thankyou for sharing the advice! A useful reminder to be more vigilent #thursdayteam

    • Reply Sarah December 16, 2017 at 7:14 am

      Definitely it was a good reminder for me. ‪Thanks for reading xx‬

  • Reply The Mummy Bubble December 10, 2017 at 7:20 am

    So much brilliant info here! The Take Five event really opened my eyes x #blogstravaganza

  • Reply The Tale of Mummyhood December 10, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    This is so important! Great tips! Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza xx

    • Reply Sarah December 16, 2017 at 7:12 am

      ‪Thanks for reading xx‬

  • Reply Kirsty December 11, 2017 at 9:42 am

    It is so easy to be misled by something or someone and give away valuable information. I never give anything away without checking with Hubby first. There are lots of things in here he always says too.

    • Reply Sarah December 16, 2017 at 7:12 am

      It really is. I always stop and think now as it’s so easy to be persuaded by people. ‪Thanks for reading xx‬

  • Reply Georgina Clarke December 11, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    What a fab, comprehensive post! I got scammed today and nearly fell for it. I got a call from HMRC saying they want to arrest me haha! Luckily I called HMRC not the number the voicemail gave me.

    They don’t want to arrest me, not today anyway.

    • Reply Sarah December 16, 2017 at 7:11 am

      Oh my goodness did you? Can’t believe they tried over the phone. I hope they don’t ever want to arrest you haha xx

  • Reply The Mummy Bubble December 11, 2017 at 10:02 pm

    Popping back over from #fortheloveofBLOG – thanks so much for sharing this with us xx

    • Reply Sarah December 16, 2017 at 7:10 am

      ‪Thanks for reading xx‬

  • Reply Nicole - thelittlestdarlings December 12, 2017 at 9:12 am

    It’s really important to share these as so many people don’t realise the scams. ESPECIALLY HMRC! That one gets people all the time!

    • Reply Sarah December 16, 2017 at 7:10 am

      Oh gosh yes people see free money and get excited don’t they, I know it’s made me stop and look! ‪Thanks for reading xx‬

  • Reply Aleena Brown December 12, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Such good tips – it’s scary how sophisticated fraudsters are, and how even the relatively clued up of us can be duped. I’m always wary with my other half, as he’s a bit oblivious and naive when it comes to the internet and his phone. He’s given away bank details before now, and once paid a random website nearly £300 to change the address on his driving license! Which of course they never did… #ThursdayTeam

    • Reply Sarah December 16, 2017 at 7:09 am

      Oh goodness it is, I really had no idea. You just have to be so careful don’t you. ‪Thanks for reading xx‬

  • Reply Sophia December 13, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    I’ve had someone commit fraud against me by stealing my bank details and trying to spend £3000! Thankfully my bank contacted me and asked if it was me and I had my card cancelled and the payment was stopped. Protecting yourself against fraud is so, so important, it’s honestly the worst fear when someone does something in your name or with your details xo

    • Reply Sarah December 16, 2017 at 7:08 am

      Oh my goodness how scary! My sister had this recently and because she is in Australia was a nightmare! Thank goodness it was all stopped for you. ‪Thanks for reading xx‬

  • Reply The Autism Dada (Sean) January 13, 2018 at 9:27 am

    The take 5 and think concept I a great idea. I’d push it even further and say if someone rings you and asks then you know it’s dodgy.

    Never give your details over the phone. There is the odd caveat where it’s a company you have phoned to buy something but certain never when someone rings you.

    Also, I always use a credit card only when buying on phone or Internet. I once had someone, years ago, get my card details and they have much better fraud protection so as your covered.

    Never use a card that has direct access to your back

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