Cybercriminals are getting smarter. And they are making a lot of money along the way. One of the most lucrative forms of cyber fraud is the money transfer scam (otherwise known as push payment fraud). In 2018, £354 million was lost to money transfer scammers. And, the sophistication of cybercriminals responsible for push payments fraud is growing at an alarming rate.
Money transfer fraud
Money transfer scams happen when cybercriminals trick people into sending them money. Because the victim believes the fraudster to be genuine, they authorise the payment. The money is then quickly transferred to different accounts, often abroad, which makes getting it back very tricky. And, despite there being rules in place to protect customers, banks are often reluctant to compensate for any losses, especially where they believe the customer should have known better. So, people can be left out of pocket without knowing where to turn.
Who is targeted by money transfer scammers?
You might think that money transfer scammers are more likely to go after people they think will fall for the scam, but this isn’t the case. Money transfer scams can be extremely difficult to spot, and anyone could be at risk.
The Financial Ombudsman has highlighted the increasing sophistication of criminal methods. It argues that people are often manipulated into thinking their money’s at risk. And this can result in rasher decisions than someone would normally make.
There are two main reasons why cybercriminals might make you the target of a money transfer scam
Because they already have your data
Often money transfer fraud happens because your data has already been violated. For example, because of a data breach (or other cybercrime such as an email hack).
A data breach could have occurred at any organisation that holds your personal information. Criminals often use data breaches to access data and sell it on the dark web.
According to a report by The Independent, the personal data of UK citizens is selling for as little as £10 on the dark web. The data offered provides more than enough information for fraudsters to convince you that they are genuine and defraud you.
Because of poor security at your bank
Some criminals will target the customers of banks that they know have poor security processes. This can make it easier to trick customers into handing over money.
This includes where banks fail to:
- keep their internal telephone/text/email systems secure
- keep their internal security protocols safe and secure
- undertake proper checks on large transactions from clients who don’t normally transfer large sums
- undertake proper checks on transactions to accounts where there is no history of transactions
- stop transfers and freeze accounts when they are informed that fraud might be happening
- liaise with the fraudsters’ banks to chase down the money and/or find out who the money has gone to.
What can you do to protect yourself from money transfer scams?
Here are some quick tips to keep you safe.
- Contact your bank or credit card provider immediately if your financial data has been exposed.
- Check all bills and emails for goods or services you have not ordered.
- Check your bank account for unfamiliar transactions.
- Alert your bank or credit card provider immediately if there is any suspicious activity.
- Monitor your credit score for any unexpected dips.
- Call Credit, Experian and Equifax to ensure credit isn’t taken out in your name.
- Never provide your PIN or full password to anyone (even someone claiming to be from your bank).
- Never been pressured into moving money to another account for fraud reasons. A legitimate bank won’t ask you to do this.
- Never automatically click on any suspicious links or downloads in emails or texts.
- Don’t assume an email or phone call is authentic just because someone has your details.
- Be careful who you trust – criminals often use scare tactics to try and trick you into revealing your security details.
- Know that, even if you recognise a name or number, it might not be genuine.
- Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision. A trustworthy organisation would never force you to make a financial transaction on the spot.
- Never provide your full password, pin or security code to someone over the phone (or via message). If a bank believes a transaction has been fraudulent, they will not ask for this information to cancel the transaction.
- Listen to your instincts and ask questions if something feels “off”.
- Refuse requests for personal or financial information and stop discussions if you are at all unsure.
- Contact your bank or financial service provider on a number you know and trust to check if a communication is genuine.
- Be cautious of unsolicited communications that refer you to a web page asking for personal data.
- Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know on social media.
- Review your online privacy settings.
- Register with the Cifas protective registration service to slow down credit applications made in your name.
- Change your passwords regularly and use a different password for every account (a password manager can help with this).
- Protect your devices with up to date internet security software.
Get digitally aware
At Keller Lenkner UK, we want to reduce the number of data violations and successful cyber scams taking place across the UK. To do this, we are raising awareness of this issue and educating people to help stop fraudsters in their tracks.
If you have fallen victim to money transfer scammers, we also provide clear and comprehensive advice and legal support to ensure the best possible result for you.