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 #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.
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?
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.
- 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.
*Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post*