The British Bankers Association is launching a fraud awareness campaign at a time when YouGov polling reveals that millions of people in Great Britain are unwittingly leaving themselves vulnerable to scams perpetrated by fraudsters posing as their bank.
The YouGov poll assessed customers’ responses to some of the common tactics used by criminals over the telephone, via e-mail or via text. Based on the answers, the British Bankers Association (BBA) calculates that people all over the country could fall foul of the most prevalent frauds around.
*Eight million individuals are vulnerable to ‘vishing’ or voice phishing
*Four million might transfer money into another supposed ‘safe’ account if instructed to do so
*Three million could be willing to carry out ‘test transactions’ online
*1.7 million would pass their bank card over to a courier on their doorstep if that courier were carrying some form of ID card
To counter this situation, the UK retail banks – with the support of law enforcement bodies including the City of London Police and the National Crime Agency – have produced a new leaflet and are launching an awareness drive called ‘Know Fraud, No Fraud’ in order to help their customers spot the difference between a legitimate call and one received from a fraudster.
The leaflet includes eight things your bank would never ask you (but a fraudster might), advice on how to avoid becoming a victim and instructions on what to do if you are caught out. It will be available across the country in bank branches and police stations and also on the ‘Know Fraud, No Fraud’ website at: http://www.knowfraud.co.uk
The leaflet sets out eight things your bank will NEVER ask you to do:
(1) Ask for your full PIN number or any online banking passwords over the phone or via e-mail
(2) Send someone to your home to collect cash, bank cards or anything else
(3) Ask you to e-mail or text personal or banking information
(4) Send an e-mail with a link to a page which asks you to enter your online banking log-in details
(5) Ask you to authorise the transfer of funds to a new account or hand over cash
(6) Call to advise you to buy diamonds, land or other commodities
(7) Ask you to carry out a test transaction online
(8) Provide banking services through any mobile apps other than the bank’s official apps
Tactics used by the scammers
Anthony Browne, CEO of the BBA, said: “Being defrauded is a devastating experience for anyone which is why we are launching this campaign. The more people know about fraud, the less likely they are to become victims. Our ‘Know Fraud, No Fraud’ initiative will help you spot some of the tactics used by scammers. Your bank would never send someone to your home to collect your cash or ask you to transfer funds to a new account.”
Browne added: “If you suspect you’ve become the victim of fraud please contact Action Fraud and your bank as soon as you can. Specially-trained staff will be able to advise on what to do next.”
City of London Police Commander Steve Head, the Police National Co-ordinator for Economic Crime, explained: “Fraud and cyber crime is costing the UK tens of billions of pounds each year, in turn causing significant damage to big businesses, destroying smaller businesses and ruining many individual lives. Criminals are also exploiting the technological and Internet revolution to target people of all ages and from all walks of life with ever more sophisticated and convincing scams. These scams are increasingly delivered directly into the home via telephone, mobiles, laptops and tablets.”
Head went on to state: “The key to creating a safer society and stopping the fraudsters in their tracks is law enforcement working in close collaboration with Government and the public and private sector to raise awareness of current and future threats and disrupt and dismantle the networks and enablers directly facilitating much of this criminality. The BBA’s campaign to flag up the most prevalent scams against bank customers and to provide advice on how to avoid becoming the next victim is another important step in the right direction and is fully supported by the City of London Police in its role as the National Policing Lead for Fraud.”
Nigel Kirby, deputy director of the Economic Crime Command, commented: “Prevention is vitally important in the UK’s fight to cut fraud, and the National Crime Agency fully supports this campaign which gives people the information they need to protect themselves. If you’re familiar with the ways in which criminals try to scam you, then you are far less likely to become a victim of the fraudsters.”
Vishing and ‘safe accounts’
In vishing cases, a fraudster will say they are from the bank or police, and that a fraudulent credit card payment has been spotted or a card due to expire needs to be replaced. To convince the intended victim they are genuine, the caller will suggest the customer hangs up and calls the bank back on the number printed on the back of their debit or credit card. However, the fraudster never actually disconnects the line so that when you call the real number you are still speaking to them.
Often, the fraudster will then ask for the customer’s PIN and then send a courier to the victim’s home to collect the bank card, promising to provide a new one. By now the assailant has obtained the victim’s name, address, bank details, card and PIN – enough to make large bogus payments.
If you receive a suspicious call, if possible use another phone or wait at least two minutes for the line to disconnect before picking up and dialling again.
When it comes to ‘safe accounts’, criminals posing as bank officials will instruct a customer that their account is under threat (usually from a corrupt bank employee or cyber criminals). They will be instructed by the ‘bank’ to transfer money into a new ‘safe account’ which is actually the fraudster’s account.
Your bank will NEVER ask you to authorise the transfer of funds to a new account or hand over cash.
Test transactions and courier fraud
In some circumstances, criminals pretending to be from a bank might e-mail a customer asking them to perform a ‘test’ transaction online, sometimes claiming there is some technical issue on their account. Rest assured that your bank will NEVER ask you to carry out a test transaction online.
Often a follow-up to vishing, having posed on the phone as a fake bank employee to extract key security information – such as a customer’s full PIN code – the criminal may also say that they are sending an official courier to your home in order to collect the corresponding card. These couriers will have ‘official’ identification.
Another courier fraud ruse is for the criminal to pose as the bank in order to ask the victim to participate in a fake police investigation, usually involving a corrupt bank employee who has been stealing from customer accounts. Typically, the customer will be asked to withdraw substantial sums of money over the counter at their bank without arousing the suspicion of the staff. They are then told to wait at home for it to be collected by a courier for safe keeping.
Your bank will NEVER send someone to your home to collect cash, bank cards or anything else.
Top line facts about fraud
In the year ending March 2014, 211,344 fraud offences were recorded in England and Wales. This is equivalent to four offences recorded per 1,000 members of the population. This represents a volume increase of 17% compared with the previous year.
In 2012, the UK Government fraud indicator suggested that fraud against UK individuals costs £6.1 billion per annum. This total is based upon estimates on the scale of mass marketing fraud, identity fraud, online ticket fraud, private rental property fraud and electricity scams.