Finance

The dark side of digital: Financial scams soar to an all-time high

By Oliver Smith 20 September 2016
Summary

Every 15 seconds someone is being ripped-off, and there's not much we can do.

It’s not just billions of pounds in loyalty points that are being stolen by fraudsters, our bank balances are at serious risk too.

In the first six months of 2016 there were over a million reported cases of financial fraud, a huge jump from the 660,308 cases in the first half of 2015.

Phishing, vishing and… smishing

That means that every 15 seconds someone is falling victim to an email deception, or ‘phishing’ (which, as we’ve seen, is sometimes impossible to spot).

Phone and text-based scams – no joke, these are apparently known as vishing and smishing – are also booming in popularity.

“Last year, banks stopped £7 in £10 of attempted fraud from happening,” said Katy Worobec, director of Financial Fraud Action UK, which represents all the major banks.

“But as the banks’ systems get more advanced, fraudsters turn their attention elsewhere and sadly this often means tricking people out of their personal details and money.”

A good solution?

The challenge for banks is that, as we found out, there’s really no easy solution to any of these scams.

Rarely are fraudsters actually hacking into people’s accounts or stealing money from their cards, instead they’re simply tricking us into giving our money away.

They’re relying on the weakest link in bank’s security which, sadly, is often the customer themselves.

That’s why Financial Fraud Action UK’s plan in the wake of this 53% jump in reported fraud cases isn’t a new technology to stop this happening, it’s a marketing campaign.

“We are asking people to take five – to take that moment – to pause and think before they respond to any financial requests and share any personal or financial details,” said Worobec.

Maybe it’s not quite as reassuring as a new ‘voice print‘ or biometric security, but in a world of sophisticated scammers that banks are effectively powerless to stop, it’s sadly the best we’ve got.

Read more: Hackers seized control of my life in minutes & it was terrifying

Read more: HSBC dumping PINs for your ‘voice print’