How you can protect yourself against fraud

TSB Stowmarket manager Andrew Lisette. Picture: TSB

TSB Stowmarket manager Andrew Lisette. Picture: TSB - Credit: Archant

In this column, TSB Stowmarket manager ANDREW LISETTE writes about the growing problem of fraud - and how banks are trying to combat it.

Working as a bank manager in a town like Stowmarket, you get to know and understand the community.

That’s why I’ve been saddened to hear about more customers and members of the community being targeted and too often becoming victims of fraud.

Whether it’s SIM swap, phone spoofing or a romance scam, the list of scams is growing and the losses are mounting up.

According to UK Finance, criminals stole £500million through fraud and scams in the first half of 2018 alone and in Suffolk alone, between October 2017 and March 2018 there were 2,433 crimes reported to Action Fraud, totalling £5.9m in victim losses.

Thankfully, banks are pretty good at preventing fraud and collectively we’ve been able to prevent a further £700m of potential thefts in the first half of 2018 through our fraud systems and quick-to-act staff.

One story which always sticks with me is a vulnerable customer who came into branch wanting to withdraw £13,000.

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It seemed out of character and after some delicate questioning it transpired they were a victim of a scam claiming to be the HMRC and had been told they would be fined £50,000 or sent to jail if they didn’t follow instructions.

We used the Banking Protocol to support the customer and save their money.

The Banking Protocol, a scheme aimed at identifying and protecting potential fraud victims when they visit a bank or building society branch, is just one way we can stop fraudsters in their tracks.

In Suffolk, £405,438 worth of fraud has been prevented through the Banking Protocol since it was introduced in October 2017, averaging out at approximately £45,000 per month.

At TSB, we’re absolutely committed to doing everything in our power to stop fraud where possible and the best way for us to prevent it, is to help the local community spot and stop it at source.

That’s why we’re going to be hosting a series of workshops in our branch in Stowmarket designed to help people understand how to spot and stop fraud.

Everyone is welcome, it’s not just for TSB customers, so I’d love to see as many of you as possible come along. The first event is on December 6 from 10am until 12.30pm.

For more information, please pop in and see us at 7 Market Place, Stowmarket.

How can I avoid fraud?

After statistics revealed fraud cost people in Suffolk £5.9million in just six months, bank TSB has given a series of tips on how people can avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

They include:

? Take your time – always stop and think about what you are being asked to do. Take your time and don’t let anyone rush you – genuine advisors will never be pushy. We will always give you time to think.

? Reality check – ask yourself ‘would my bank or the police really ask me to do that?’ If in any doubt, call your bank on the number on your card and ask for the fraud team, they will be happy to help.

? Keep your account to yourself – people who get access to your computer, laptop, tablet or phone could access your accounts. If someone contacts you out of the blue and asks to access your computer remotely, they could be a fraudster.

? Ask an expert – make sure you seek independent or impartial advice before making any kind of investment. Your bank will always be happy to help you spot a potential scam – so just ask.

? If in doubt, call them back – appearances can be deceptive. If you have any concerns, put the phone down and call the organisation back on the number listed on their website or, if it’s your bank, use the number on the back of your card.

? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is – incredible returns, guaranteed riches, low risks, something for nothing? Fraudsters like to tempt you. If it seems like easy money, be sure to check the fine print.

? Speak to friends or family first – telling someone else about any plans or proposals will help you think things through. Those closest to you have your best interests at heart. If they have concerns, you may want to reconsider.

? Stay safe online – when paying online, look for the padlock security symbol in the address bar. This means the site is secure and your payment is protected. If you use sites like eBay, never make payments outside their process.

? Scam accounts – some fraudsters might scare you and tell you to send money to a ‘safe account’ or a ‘police account’. Your bank would never ask you to do this – these kinds of accounts are always scams.

? If in doubt… – whatever your concerns, however small, simply call the number on the back of your bank card and ask to speak to the fraud team. They will be able to help you and give you advice.