Warning for consumers as scam reports rise
One of the UK’s biggest high street banks is warning consumers to be on high alert for scams as it unveils its list of the scams Britons are falling for the most.
In one October week alone, over 900 cases were reported to NatWest by customers and the bank says cases of scams have been rising all year.
The bank’s list of the most common scams is headed by vishing, where consumers are tricked out of their account details, followed by romance scams, investment cons and email impersonation or invoice fraud.
Terry Lawson, head of fraud prevention for NatWest, said: “Improved security mean it's much harder for criminals to target the banks so they're turning their attention to our customers, and with the rise of mobile technology fraudsters are using increasingly sophisticated techniques. Anyone can be targeted by a scam.”
In one extraordinary case reported by NatWest, a customer was contacted by a ‘policeman’ who said he was investigating fraudulent bank staff. The customer was advised to visit two different branches to draw out cash and a police officer would meet customer outside the branch for the funds to be handed over. Luckily, bank staff grew suspicious and, after withdrawing £30,000, persuaded the customer to call the real police who confirmed it was a scam.
“We all think it will never happen to us and that its elderly and vulnerable customers who fall for them but it's not,” added Lawson. “We've seen customers from every background fall for these scams and know how heartbreaking it can be. We’re hoping that by releasing these figures, and by telling just a few of the stories behind the stats, we’ll make it harder for the criminals and easier for the rest of us.”
NatWest’s current top scams
- Vishing: verbal phishing along the lines of “Your NatWest account is compromised” (various connotations including cash out in branch/pay away online to protect funds).
- Romance scam: when you think you’ve met your perfect partner online, but they aren’t who they say they are. Once they’ve gained your trust, they ask for money for a variety of emotive reasons. Usually targets middle-aged women, many customers are embarrassed to tell us they have been victim
- Investment scams: usually an opportunity to invest in shares, property or rare goods, with the promise that the returns will be high and the risks to your money are low or non-existent.
- Email Impersonation or invoice fraud: generally seeks diversion of funds – criminals send a fake invoice with ‘new’ payment details or the invoice might say that the due date for the payment has passed, or threaten that non-payment will affect credit rating.
- Rogue Traders: target elderly customers claiming urgent repairs are needed to house and demand payment up front. Do shoddy (or no) work.
Phishing scams are typically fraudulent email messages from seemingly legitimate sources (your internet service provider, mobile phone provider, bank etc). These messages usually direct you to a counterfeit website or ask you to divulge private information (password, PIN, credit card numbers, or other account updates), which is then used to commit identity theft.