Spotting frauds and scams – how to protect yourself

Fraudsters and scammers are becoming ever  more sophisticated in how they operate. As the world and technology evolves, so, too, do the techniques used by criminals.

At Allica, we do everything we can to try and help prevent this. However, it’s important that you’re vigilant and alert, too, to protect yourself and your money.

Here, we’ll explore different types of common frauds and scams, and ways you can help keep yourself safe.

if you think you’ve been a victim of a fraud or a scam, contact us straight away.

What is fraud?

Fraud is a criminal act to deceive you and take your cash – it’s a transaction that you didn’t make or authorise.

What is a scam?

A scam is where you’re tricked into making or authorising a payment to a criminal’s account. Scammers impersonate banks, retailers and official organisations using emails, phone calls and texts that look and sound genuine.

Examples of scams:

  1. A text message with a link to listen to a voicemail. When you click this link it will download malware onto your device, creating a doorway for hackers to gain access to your device.
  2. ‘Too good to be true’ cryptocurrency promotions. Scammers will often look to leverage the popularity of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin by sharing ‘get rich quick’ opportunities.
  3. Scammers have been known to pose as potential love interests in order to win people’s trust. Watch out for people requesting money that you haven’t met in person.

How to combat fraud

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Fraudulent emails

What to look out for

  • Threatening or urgent-sounding ‘act now’ suggestions.
  • Inaccuracies and spelling mistakes.
  • Unexpected emails that claim to come from a financial institution.
  • Urgent requests and threats.
  • Claims that your account has been compromised.
  • Requests to “Open an Attachment” or “Click a Link”.

What you can do to stay safe

  • Be suspicious of unsolicited emails. Listen to your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, then stop and question it.
  • Never reveal your bank details or other personal information if requested by email.
  • Check links in emails are legitimate by ‘hovering’ your mouse over the link to view the web address (URL) without clicking. If it is different to what you were expecting, do not click.
  • Consider having different email addresses for different purposes; one for your bank to use, another for family and friends and perhaps a different address for online newsletters.

Fraudulent phone calls

What to look out for

  • ‘Vishing’ – sometimes fraudsters try to trick you into divulging personal and confidential information, including bank account details, over the phone.
  • ‘Smishing’ – when fraudsters use text messages instead to trick you into giving up personal details.

What you can do to stay safe

  • Criminals who have called your landline can stay on the line for up to 5 minutes, even after you have hung up. Wait at least 10 minutes after hanging up. Then, to ensure that the fraudsters have disconnected, call someone you know before using the phone again or use a different line to report the incident to the Bank.
  • Sometimes fraudsters make phone calls claiming to be from a reputable IT organisation to offer assistance. Never allow a cold-caller to take remote access of your computer.
  • Never respond to suspicious text messages or click on links contained sent by text from contacts you don’t recognise. These links may lead to malicious content. Send a screenshot of the suspicious text to customer.services@allica.bank and then delete it.
  • Please note, that we, the police, or any other genuine organisation will never ask for your help in investigating crime. If you are contacted with a similar request, please end the call immediately and call us to inform us of the suspicious call.

Being Safe Online

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Online banking

The internet has made banking much more accessible and convenient. With online or mobile payments being used every day, there are precautions you need to take to ensure that you enjoy the safest banking experience possible:

  • Never reveal your online login information to anyone.
  • Shoulder surfing – make sure you are not being observed. When entering passwords or PINs into online accounts in a public place, shield your screen and ensure no one is overlooking you or trying to distract you.
  • Monitor your accounts on a regular basis. Check for suspicious transactions. If you do find anything suspicious, report it.
  • Always log out completely from online banking. Select the log out button rather than just closing the website or app.
  • Use secure websites (https). When entering login details or personal information, be sure the web page you are viewing offers encryption of your data by checking:
    • The web address (URL) has changed from ‘http’ to ‘https’.
    • That a closed padlock icon is present.
    • Your browser address window may be green.

Password safety

  • Never give your password out to anyone. A strong password following the guidance below will help to keep your password ‘hard to crack’.
  • More than 8 characters. The more complex the better.
  • Make it Unique. Try using a specific password only once for one platform.
  • Replace letters with numbers and symbols. B@tm@nB3g1ns (Batman Begins) is an example.
  • Vary it. Random words made up of a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Memorable. Make sure it’s easy to remember. Making it personal doesn’t have to make it easily crack-able!

Protecting your computer, tablet or phone

  • Use antivirus programmes and update them regularly.
  • Only download apps/software from trusted sources like the Play Store (Google) or the App Store (Apple).
  • Make sure your device is wiped of data before being sold on
  • You can wipe your device of data remotely if you suspect you have lost it/had it stolen.
  • Look out for signs that your device is infected with a virus/malware. Does it run slower than usual, bring up unusual pop ups, have unusual error messages, or does your toolbar look different?

Reporting fraud

If you suspect you have been a victim or fraud or a scam, contact us as soon as possible.

Note that, if we need to contact you about a potential fraud on your account, we will do this through a secure channel, such as the phone, SMS, or email.

Further reading:

Take Five

FCA – protect yourself from scams

Latest updates from Cifas – the UK's fraud prevention community

Fraud Focus - rise in ‘Hello Mum’ scams, bank card scams, and cheap malware offers

 

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