William Thompson, Head of Consumer Banking NI Bank of Ireland UK, has some tips for how you and your family can avoid falling victim to the menace of fraud…

Celebrating Halloween may be the main focus for you and your kids this month, but as October is also Cyber Security Month, I wanted to share some advice on the best ways to protect your family and friends from falling prey to fraudsters – both on and offline.

My aim isn’t to scare you but to make you aware of telltale signs as it may come as no surprise that financial fraud affects millions in the UK each year. In fact, according to Finance UK, there were more than 900,000 cases of financial fraud in the first six months of 2017 alone.

Most of us probably think ‘This will never happen to me’ but I was reading about a survey recently by the new Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign (an initiative by Financial Fraud Action UK to educate consumers about financial fraud) and 80 per cent of the people surveyed said they could spot a fraudulent approach. Surprisingly though, when 63,000 people were actually tested on this to see if they could recognise certain fraudulent scenarios, only 9 per cent could identify all eight scams.

So maybe we’re not as savvy as we think, but there are some simple steps you can take to make yourself less vulnerable, so it’s important to know what’s out there and what you need to be aware of.

You have probably heard of ‘phishing’ which is one of the most modern day scams and happens when a customer is contacted via email, text or phone by someone posing as a legitimate bank or financial institution asking for their bank details or contact details and passwords. If you do share those details then you’re opening yourself up to the possibility of identity theft and financial loss, so never share this information unless you are absolutely sure that it’s a genuine request.

To ensure people know how to spot phishing scams and other common forms of fraud, banks have been vocal about letting people know about the dangers of such scams and that a legitimate bank or financial institution would never ask for sensitive information over the phone or in an unexpected text message or email.

In a further step to educate customers on the dangers, the banking industry is also working with Financial Fraud Action UK and the UK Government on the new Take Five campaign which encourages people to take a moment before responding to any message that requests bank details or other personal information.

The campaign suggests that we should all ‘take five’ when you receive a suspicious text, email or phone call and consider the following:

  • Be skeptical of unexpected requests – A legitimate bank or financial institution will never ask you for your PIN, password or to move money to another account. Only share your personal information with an institution you trust.
  • Think before you click – We get so many emails these days and it can be easy to go on autopilot and click on any link, but this can be an easy way for fraudsters to get your information. Don’t click on unexpected links, even if it’s a text message that looks legitimate.
  • Avoid sharing personal information – If you receive any correspondence from your bank or financial institution that you are not expecting, contact your bank using a number you’ve sourced yourself so you know you are contacting the right people.

If you’re looking for more tips about how to stay safe from financial fraud, I recommend you download the Take Five customer advice guide at takefive-stopfraud.org.uk

I would also encourage you to keep an eye on your bank account and create hard-to-guess passwords for your online account. If you are checking your bank account and spot suspicious activity, or you think you could be a victim of identity theft, contact your bank or financial services institution immediately and then contact Action Fraud by calling Tel: 0300 123 2040 or actionfraud.police.uk

This October, do think about the dangers of financial fraud and how you can avoid it to make sure Halloween is the only spooky thing that happens to your family this year.

 

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