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RSN™ Guide: A to Z of Online Fraud

Most people now have access to the internet. We use our home computers, phones, and other devices to shop or bank online, keep in touch with friends and relatives, and lots of other everyday activities because we find it convenient and easy. But the same is also true of fraudsters.

With all the convenience the internet brings, it is important to be aware of potential online risks. Here are the A-Z of online fraud to help you recognize some of the most common scams.

A – Application Fraud (Identity Theft)

Application Fraud is when an account is opened using fake or stolen documents in your name, using the account to withdraw cash, get credit, or find other ways to defraud you. Spot the signs: You get letters or emails confirming new cards or loans you didn’t apply for. You’re paying for a subscription or Direct Debit you don’t recognize, such as a contract for a mobile phone you don’t own.

B – Banking Online And Card Fraud

The use of online banking or banking apps on smartphones and tablets has grown. People use them at home or when they are out and about. To stay safe while banking online you must protect your password and personal details to stop criminals from accessing your accounts. Stay safe by choosing passwords and memorable words with great care, always log out when you’ve finished and never use publically available WI-FI networks for banking.

C – Computer Software Service Frauds (Technical Support Scam)

Fraudsters often use the names of well-known companies to commit their crime. For example, they’ll pretend to be someone from Microsoft or Apple contacting you and telling you there is a problem with your device and they can help you solve them. The criminal will ask you to complete a number of actions on your computer; they may even be able to download what is known as ‘Remote Access Tool’ which gives them access to everything on your computer. To stay safe you should never allow anyone to remotely access your computer.

D – Due Diligence Or Do Your Own Research (Phishing Scam)

If you are approached online by somebody you don’t know or are being asked to change details of a payment out of the blue, stop to think and do some research. Oftentimes simply using a search engine to search for the person’s name with the word SCAM after it will bring back results if other people have encountered the person. Likewise, try to gain other information from the person contacting you like an address or phone number and search that to verify who they are. Never trust pictures sent to you online, use Google to conduct a reverse image search to see if the picture you have been sent has appeared elsewhere on the internet.  If you are in any doubt don’t go through with a transaction.

E – Email Scams

Phishing refers to the process of deceiving recipients into sharing sensitive information with an unknown third party (cyber-criminal). Typically in a phishing email scam, you receive an email that appears to come from a reputable organization. To protect against phishing attacks, its good practice not to click on links in email messages. Instead, you should enter the website address in the address field and then navigate to the correct page, or use a bookmark or favorite link.

F – Facebook Fakes

People often don’t realize how much information they are giving away on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels but your details are valuable to criminals and can be misused by them, or sold on to others. If your data is obtained by criminals it may be used to obtain credit cards or bank accounts in your name, as well as numerous other financial products. Be wary of the personal information you post on social media and ensure you check your privacy settings.

G – Government Agency Scams

Government agency scams are when fraudsters send out official-looking letters or emails to ask for money or personal information. The correspondence gives the impression that they are from a government department and imply they have some form of authority. The letter or email might advise that you must register in order to comply with some kind of legislation – for a fee. Other alternatives include asking you to pay a fine for breaches to the law or requesting bank details to claim a tax rebate.

H – Holiday Fraud

Millions of people book their holidays online. Whilst you can get some fantastic deals fraudsters take advantage of this. They advertise flights, accommodation and other travel services that are not provided or don’t exist. Often, you will only become aware you have been scammed when you arrive at an airport or even worse your destination and find no booking has been made! Remember; always pay by credit card or the third party payment service advised by the website. Be suspicious of any discount offered for paying by bank transfer, or request to complete the booking offsite. Think: can I trust the advert? How do I know the booking exists?

I – Identity Theft

Identity theft happens when fraudsters access enough information about someone’s identity (such as their name, date of birth, current or previous addresses) to commit identity fraud. Identity theft can take place whether the fraud victim is alive or deceased. If you’re a victim of identity theft, it can lead to fraud that can have a direct impact on your personal finances and could also make it difficult for you to obtain loans, credit cards or a mortgage until the matter is resolved.

J – Jobs / Recruitment Fraud

Most people apply for a number of different jobs throughout their working lives. As technology advances, so do the techniques fraudsters use to exploit job seekers during this process. The majority of frauds involve the ‘recruiter’ demanding some kind of payment or fee for DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) checks, training, certification or work permits. The job advert which has attracted applicants is often fake and the recruiter stops communication once payments are received… or asks for more! Remember, never provide personal details such as your bank account, Social Security or National Insurance number, date of birth, driving license or utility bill information during an application process or on your CV. Do some research to check the company exists and if they are really advertising the role. Think: why am I being asked to make upfront payments?

K – Keylogging (Malware On Your Computer)

Keylogging is the process of secretly recording keystrokes by an unauthorized third party. Keylogging is often used by malware to steal usernames, passwords, credit card details and other sensitive data as you type it into the keyboard. Keyloggers are easily downloaded, and can infect machines simply through a visit to a site such as YouTube, social networking sites like Facebook, and other so-called “legitimate sites.” That information can then be used by the thief for fraud and identity theft.

L – Loan Scams

Loan scams happen when a victim is asked to pay an upfront fee for a loan. A person will typically reply to an advert for a fast loan and will have their application approved regardless of their credit history. Before they receive the loan, they are told they must pay an upfront fee to cover insurance for the loan. Once this fee is paid, the victim does not hear from the company again and the loan is never received. Loan scams are a type of advance fee fraud. Fraud has been committed when money has been lost.

M – Mandate Fraud (Payment Diversion Fraud)

Mandate Fraud is where fraudsters obtain details of direct debits, standing orders or account transfer details and amend them to transfer monies to other accounts. This method is also commonly known as “Payment Diversion Fraud” in which an email is sent from a fraudster purporting to be a trusted colleague or customer requesting a ‘one off’ payment be made to a new bank account.

M – Money Mules

A money mule is someone who receives money for a scammer, usually a victim that is still believing the scam or living in denial. They then forward the money to the scammer engaging in criminal money laundering. Scammers use money mules so that other victims will have a local destination to send money to, reducing suspicions and increasing the probability of more money stolen.

N – Nigerian 419 Scams

This is one of the oldest of African based scams, where a large amount of assets (inheritance, gold, precious stones, or another commodity) is being offered but you need to pay some smaller amount up front.

O – Other Advance Fee Fraud

Advance fee fraud is when fraudsters target victims to make advance or upfront payments for goods, services and/or financial gains that do not materialize.  The scam typically involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money, in return for a small up-front payment, which the fraudster requires in order to obtain the large sum. Types of