From fake security issues and cash machine clones, here’s how to avoid the shady antics of a modern day scammer.
Being a victim of a bank scam is one sure way to ruin your day. But what’s better than cure, they say? Prevention. So, to help save you from the hassle of a bank scam, we’ve put together a list of the most common types to help you stay financially aware - and safe.
1. Bank transfer scams
This one’s arguably the most common - and also the most shady.
Scammers will give you a call, pretend to be from your bank, tell you there’s a problem with your account (like if your identity’s been stolen or someone’s trying to illegally get into your account), and then tell you the solution’s to move your money into a ‘safe account’ until the activity’s been investigated.
Then, as soon as you’ve transferred the money to them, they’ll get right to work on moving it to various accounts around the world.
Another reason this one’s super shady is because you agreed to transfer the money and they re-transferred it so quickly, it can be incredibly hard to get your funds back.
To avoid falling victim to this one, if you have reason to believe it isn’t actually your bank on the other end of the phone, never agree to transfer your money there and then. Instead, hang up, call your bank yourself (on the number you know is theirs), and ask them to confirm what you’ve been told.
2. Other over-the-phone scams
Another equally sly but slightly less common phone scam comes in the form of scammers accessing your computer remotely, installing spyware, and then stealing your information. The reason they feed you for needing this access will vary, but a fairly common one is saying there’s “a problem with your internet connection”.
And then there’s also the compensation trick. This one involves financial criminals giving you a call, telling you you’re due a refund or compensation for X, Y or Z, but then saying you’ve been over-compensated and asking you to transfer the difference back.
Phishing is the practice of sending emails that look like they’re from reputable companies, with the end goal of encouraging people to reveal personal information - like passwords and credit card numbers.
In the world of financial fraud, phishing looks a bit like this:
Step 1: You receive a text or email that, to the naked eye, looks like it could be from your bank or building society.
Step 2: Within the message, you’re asked to click on a link and verify your login, account, and password details.
Step 3: If you fall for the scam, the hacker’s able to read all the information you type in and raid your account.
The worst part? If you lose money this way, there’s no way of getting it back.
Avoiding this one is simple. Your bank will never ask you to give full security and password details, so ignore any type of text or email that asks for it. If you’re in doubt, give your bank a call and ask them to confirm if it was them (just don’t use the contact number included in the dodgy email!).
4. Cash machine clones
To clone your bank card and subsequently use it to steal your identity, some scammers attach a device of some sort to the card slot of ATM machines, or install a camera to the machine so they can see your card’s number and your PIN.
If you’re not a financial criminal, either will be near impossible to spot.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t protect your account. Every time you withdraw cash from an ATM it’ll prompt you to cover up your PIN - if you want to stay safe, listen to it.
5. Online shopping hacks
As we just illustrated with scam number four, fraudsters don’t need your physical bank card to access your cash, and invading your online shopping spree is another common workaround they use.
Unsecured websites (i.e. the ones with a URL that starts with http not https) aren’t protected from cyber-attacks, which means scammers can plug spyware onto your computer and see all your online activity - including your passwords and account information.
There are things you can do to stay safe though (without kiboshing online shopping altogether):
Make sure your computer’s antivirus and operating system software are up to date;
Only shop with retailers who’s URL start with https;
Don’t online shop while you’re hooked on to public WiFi; and
Always use strong passwords for all of your accounts.
6. Poaching pensions
A common tactic used to target people aged 55+ is fake investment opportunities (usually abroad) in a bid to deprive people of their pensions.
With this one, scammers will impersonate a retirement specialist, contact their victims via phone, text, or email, and offer them free pension advice or investment opportunities.
They try to lure people in with low-interest rates and tempt them to take extra risks, all with the view of making them more vulnerable to make fake investments.
If this happens to you, there are a few warning signs to be wary of:
Free pension reviews that are out of the blue;
Deals that are limited or require you to “act now”; and
Being pressured to make a quick decision.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.