Fraud is a prevalent threat in today’s digital age, and individuals and businesses must be proactive in protecting themselves from various types of fraudulent activities. This article, inspired from An Gardai Síochána’s post provides valuable crime prevention advice to safeguard against payment card fraud, invoice redirection fraud, CEO fraud, email fraud (phishing), phone fraud (vishing or smishing), and advance fee fraud.
The first step towards avoiding scamming and frauding is to stay vigilant. Then get familiar with and implement these preventive measures to safeguard your finances and personal information.
Payment Card Fraud
Payment card fraud involves the unauthorized use of stolen or counterfeit payment cards for direct purchases, cash withdrawals, or online transactions. What should you do to protect yourself against payment card fraud?
- Keep your payment card in a safe place at all times and report any loss or theft immediately to your bank. If you use your bank app in conjunction with your card, you can block the card in one click online using the app.
- Safeguard your Personal Identification Number (PIN) by not writing it down, keeping it separate from your card, and not sharing it with anyone. Do not put into your wallet with the card.
- If a card or PIN is not received as expected, notify your card issuer right away.
- Sign new cards upon receipt and destroy old ones securely.
- When making in-store purchases or using ATMs, cover your PIN to prevent it from being observed by others.
- When using ATMs to withdraw cash, I personally check that the ATM doesn’t have attached or installed extra parts or devices on top of the original parts (banknote dispenser, card slot, etc) trying to detatch these parts. If they are firm and don’t move easily it is a good sign that the ATM has not been tampered with.
- Try always to withdraw cash from ATMs that are located inside banks or financial institutions, rather than ATMs located on streets. This will decrease the chances of being tampered.
- Ensure your card remains in sight when paying for goods or services.
Invoice Redirection Fraud
Invoice redirection fraud targets businesses by convincing them to change the bank account details of legitimate suppliers. As a result, payments meant for genuine suppliers are redirected to accounts controlled by fraudsters. To avoid falling victim to this type of fraud:
- Educate all staff members about invoice redirection fraud and instruct them to bring any requests to change bank account details to a supervisor for verification.
- Establish a procedure that involves making direct contact with known contacts at suppliers to verify any requested changes to bank account details. Independently verify the contact information instead of relying on details provided in emails or by the sender.
This particular fraud targets people working in a company. It involves criminals impersonating the Chief Executive Officer of a company and manipulating junior employees in the finance department into processing substantial payments. Protect against CEO fraud by:
- Conducting comprehensive training for CEOs, senior executives, and staff members to raise awareness about this type of fraud.
- Empower staff to question and verify requests of this nature.
- Implement clear policies and procedures for verifying payment transfers or high-level requests from senior management.
- Encourage additional verification processes, such as making a phone call to the CEO or using visual communication, to confirm the legitimacy of a transaction.
Email Fraud (Phishing)
Email fraud, commonly known as phishing, encompasses a range of deceptive tactics used by criminals to obtain personal or financial information or install malware on devices. Follow these measures to protect yourself:
- Avoid opening unsolicited emails.
- Never respond to unsolicited emails that request personal, financial, or security information.
- Refrain from clicking on links or attachments in unsolicited emails.
- Remember that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Independently verify the authenticity of emails by contacting the purported sender through alternative means.
Phone Fraud (Vishing or Smishing)
Phone fraud, known as vishing or smishing, involves criminals contacting individuals by phone or text, pretending to be a trusted organization or entity, and attempting to extract personal or financial information such as credit card details. Protect yourself from phone fraud:
- Decline unsolicited calls or texts requesting private information, such as your name, address, date of birth, family details, bank account numbers, PIN, or passwords.
- Independently verify any requests for information using contact details that are independent of the caller or texter. You can also check online for their phone number. There are many online databases where you can check if it is spam or fraud.
- Do not trust callers solely because they possess some personal information about you.
- Are you expecting a phone call from an organisation or a business? If not, it is possible to be a phone fraud. Remember, if it is a legit organisation they won’t have any problem providing more information where to verify them.
- As deterrent, you can also install on your smartphone specific apps to filter unsolicited calls or user flagged phone numbers that block incoming phone calls. You can find these apps both for iPhone and Android. I personally use an app called “Should I Answer?” but there are many out there and free of charge.
Advance Fee Fraud
Advance fee fraud tricks victims into making upfront payments for nonexistent goods, services, financial gains, or prizes. To avoid falling victim to advance fee fraud follow these advice:
- Be cautious of unsolicited offers or benefits that seem too good to be true.
- Always independently verify the identity of the person or company you are dealing with, and terminate contact if verification is not possible.
- Never share personal, financial, or security information unless you have confirmed the legitimacy of the recipient.
- Exercise caution when asked to transfer money to non-identifiable locations or through money transfer companies instead of secure bank accounts.
- If you feel something strange or your instinct tells you something is wrong, refrain from dealing with the counterpart and inform the authorities.
By staying informed about the various types of fraud in Ireland and implementing these crime prevention measures, you can protect yourself and your business from falling victim to fraudsters. Remember, vigilance and skepticism are essential in safeguarding your personal and financial well-being. If something is too good to be true, means it is definitely a scam.