Fraud is getting smarter – but some simple steps can help you avoid it

by Clear Junction30 October, 2023Compliance

Fraudsters are relentless in their pursuit of other people’s money, and there’s no depth they won’t sink to in order to get it. The online scams and schemes that fraudsters devise are frighteningly sophisticated, and getting smarter all the time.

Banks and other financial service businesses have done a great job of reminding us to watch out for fraud. We know that we need to shield our PINs when taking cash out of the ATM, we know it’s unsafe to leave our payment cards unattended in public, and we know it’s risky to leave our phones unlocked. And we’re used to using passwords when doing practically any form of financial activity online.

You may have seen news headlines about people being tricked into sending large amounts of money to fraudsters online. Examples include fake investment schemes, online romance scams, or shopping offers that deceive people into thinking they’re getting a bargain or exclusive item or service.

To give its proper name, these methods are all known as authorised push payment (APP) fraud, where fraudsters deceive you into making or authorising a bank transfer or card payment, or handing over your sensitive personal and payment data. The scale of APP fraud is alarming – losses totalled around £500 million in 2022, with individuals and businesses falling prey to scams and authorising transfers to accounts controlled by fraudsters.

No matter how it occurs, falling victim to fraud can be devastating, and people often feel humiliated, ashamed or angry that they have been tricked. It’s natural and understandable to feel like this. But sadly, many innocent individuals and businesses have been caught up in these scams, impersonated by fraudsters who have used their names to perpetrate theft. Many victims have left scathing reviews of these businesses, accusing them of stealing money or ignoring their pleas for help to get their funds back, when the fact is that these businesses had nothing whatsoever to do with the fraudster.

The simple fact is that it’s easy for fraudsters to pretend to be someone else online, and many people ignore their cautious instincts when presented with a request or deal that seems authentic. Even the most tech-savvy and financially aware can be caught off-guard with new scam methods, which are incredibly convincing.

At Clear Junction, we depend on the trust and security of our clients and their customers, and we want to ensure that fraudsters are thwarted at every opportunity. So we’ve put together some tips that will keep you safe online.

  1. Change your passwords – and make sure they’re strong

You’d be surprised how easy it is for criminals to guess passwords, or crack them with automatic password generator widgets. So, get into the habit of changing your passwords regularly. Don’t use simple passwords or words personal to you, like family, friend or pet names, or sports team names. You can create an ultra-strong password by throwing in uppercase letters, numbers and symbols. And remember – the best way to protect your passwords is never share them with anyone!

  1. Don’t over-share on social media – lock it down

Likewise, be careful about what you share on your social media apps and make sure your privacy settings are set to a high level. It’s alarmingly easy for criminals to steal enough personal information from unprotected social media profiles to commit identity fraud, or hack into your accounts. Never share private information (like your address or school) or personal details, like your birthday or address, on social media.

  1. Use and update your anti-virus protection and system software

Fast-mutating viruses and malicious software (malware) can infect your computer, tablet or phone. Once infected, your device can lock you out, steal your data, and expose your payment info online. Anti-virus software will scan your device for online bugs and block them. And always update your device operating system, too. System software and applications can become outdated quickly and become vulnerable to cyberattack. Always install updates or patches from your OS or software developer as soon as you’re alerted.

  1. Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA) for your accounts

Two-factor authentication protects you when online. Even if your password is compromised somehow, 2FA helps to protect your accounts with an extra verification step. Accounts protected with 2FA will ask you to enter one-time passwords (OTPs), sent to you by text or through your device app. Turn on 2FA on any of your accounts that contain sensitive personal or financial data.

  1. Check links or attachments before you click on them

If you get emails or texts containing attachments or links from your financial provider, don’t click on them until you can verify the source. Check the spelling or website address to verify that it matches the genuine address of your financial provider. Clicking on unverified links or attachments may take you to imitation websites that ask you to enter your account data and give fraudsters access to your devices. If in doubt, don’t click on it.

  1. Be wary when using free public WiFi

Using public free WiFi networks can expose your data to someone monitoring your internet traffic, enabling them to steal passwords, emails or payment details. Don’t use public WiFi when accessing your banking or payment accounts or when looking at material you wouldn’t want a stranger looking over your shoulder to see.

  1. Always verify requests for personal information

Fraudsters can easily impersonate someone from your bank, credit card provider, utility provider, or even law enforcement and ask you to give them your account details. Your bank will never ask for these details over the phone or via text message. If someone contacts you claiming to be from your financial provider, always take the time to verify them by checking the phone number or email address they’re messaging from.

At Clear Junction, we work to ensure that every possible action has been taken to strengthen cybersecurity within our business amid the pervasive threat of fraud. We continuously monitor fraud trends and devote significant resources to our risk management, AML and KYC processes. In fact, one-third of our team are focused solely on building the technology to manage all of these security protections. What’s more, our recent ISO 27001 certification assures clients and their customers that their transaction data is safe with us, protected by the highest global standard that corporates can achieve for information security.

However, while APP fraud is rife, it is vital to us that our clients feel safe against fraud. If you think you have been affected by fraud or have questions regarding your transaction security, please contact us.