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Financial Crime 2020

How are criminals getting our information?

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Katy Worobec

Managing Director, Economic Crime, UK Finance

In these difficult times, we should be vigilant against criminals using the publicity around Coronavirus as a chance to target people with fraudulent emails, phone calls, text messages or social media posts.

Most of us think we’re too smart to get caught out by fraud and scams but, the truth is, criminals are increasingly using sophisticated techniques to trick people into revealing personal and financial information. Letting your guard down for just a moment could result in you losing your money.

Criminals will try to get our personal and financial information in a number of ways; including social media, phishing emails, data breaches and ‘spoof’ calls. The banking and finance industry is taking action on all fronts to protect its customers from fraud and crack down on the criminal gangs responsible. But it’s also up to us all to protect our details from getting into their hands by remembering to stop and think before you part with your information.

Be wary of fakes on social media

The use of social media has increased rapidly over the years, enabling us to connect with the wider world by sharing life – even live – updates to posting photos of your first day at work. However, this can lead to a wealth of personal information being made available online.

Letting your guard down for just a moment could result in you losing your money.

Criminals use social media platforms to advertise fake investments, claiming high returns with little risk, or heavily discounted products to entice people. Links contained in the posts ultimately lead to fake websites requesting your information.

Fake social media accounts are also used to impersonate banks or trusted organisations to convince users to hand over their personal and financial details.

Phishing – emails claiming to be from reputable sources

Criminals send emails falsely claiming to be from genuine organisations, banks and government departments to persuade you to reveal your personal and financial information.

These fake emails aim to alert you to suspicious activity on your account, claim there are problems with your payment information or ask you to pay advance fees.

By clicking on the link contained in the email and filling out your personal and financial details, criminals can steal your money and information, which they then use to fund their crimes.

Criminals could be targeting you on the back of data breaches

Data breaches are an all-too-common occurrence. While the perpetrators can vary from highly organised or state-sponsored attacks to sole individuals or disgruntled employees, a data breach will have consequences for consumers and businesses.

Criminals often attempt take advantage of a breach by impersonating the affected company and claiming there has been fraud on a customer’s account. They will then try to trick customers into revealing security details or even into transferring money to another account.

Information gained from a data breach is one of the sources of information criminals use in scams.

Take Five to Stop Fraud

You can easily protect yourself from falling for fraud and scams by taking a few precautions, such as conducting research before making any purchases or investments and always contacting organisations or your bank directly using a known email or phone number rather than clicking on a link or using the number given to you in a text or email.

It’s human nature to trust, but it’s important to know that it’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests for our personal and financial information.

That’s why the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign offers straight-forward and impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud. 

We want to encourage people to take a moment to ‘Stop, Challenge and Protect’ when faced with fraudulent approaches so we can stem the tide of these crimes.

Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse, or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

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