A day in the life of the (potential) fraud victim… There goes the alarm clock…time to get up. The post has arrived, lots of letters on the mat. What’s this? A bill for a mobile phone, impossible, I don’t have a bill-phone. Ah, must be an error by the phone company, I am sure it will get sorted. The credit card statement, I will have a look at it later. Sometimes I don’t even get around to opening them, and put them straight into recycling. Log onto my pc, that’s strange, my bank log on is requesting that I input all digits of my PIN, and all of my security details, oh well I am sure that’s fine. And look, an email from a solicitor telling me that my long lost aunt has left me a fortune. That’s great, all I have to do is send on my bank details and a cheque for €1000.00. No bother. Mind you, my parents always told me we had no rich relatives. Just shows they were wrong. Now, let me see, where is my cheque-book? I always sign up a few cheques beforehand, saves time. Oh and the car that I advertised yesterday, here is a nice man wanting to buy it. Strange, my asking price was €10,000.00, he will send me €12500.00 and I can keep an extra grand for myself, and return the surplus to him. That’s very decent of him. Fraud could never happen to me…or could it? The following points (from the IBF publication on Fraud Prevention) show how we can prevent fraud, by taking some very simple steps. Identity Fraud Clues Ø You receive letters re debts which are not yours. Ø You receive invoices for goods/ services you did not purchase. Ø You are refused a financial service (e.g. a credit card) despite having a good credit history. Ø You receive a mobile phone bill (or similar) of which you have no knowledge. Simple steps to prevent identity theft and identity fraud Ø Keep all valuable documents locked away safely. Ø Shred receipts and utility bills. Ø Never give your PIN to anyone. Ø Advise service providers immediately if moving address. Early detection is vital to prevent fraud Ø Check your bank and credit card statements regularly. Ø Report any suspicious/ fraudulent transaction immediately. Ø When disposing of statements shred them. Simple steps to prevent card fraud Ø Always cover the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN. Ø Keep your PIN safe. Ø NEVER disclose the PIN to anyone. Ø Do NOT write it down. Ø Insist on being present while the card is being processed, do not allow the card out of your sight, for example, in a restaurant. Ø Do NOT give your PIN in Internet or phone transactions. Ø Consider whether you need to carry all cards with you, for example, if going on holidays. Ø Keep unused cards safely locked away. Simple steps to prevent cheque fraud Ø Keep your cheque book in a safe place. Ø Do NOT sign cheques in advance. Ø Ensure that all issued cheques and unused cheque numbers are accounted for. Ø Cross all cheques ‘a/c payee only’. Simple steps to prevent ATM Fraud Ø Be aware of your physical surroundings. Ø Check that other people in the queue are at a reasonable distance. Ø Shield your PIN with your hand to prevent hidden cameras or person from capturing your information. Ø Never reveal your PIN to anyone. Ø Use ATMs which are in clear view and well lit. Ø Be careful of machines in dark areas or places that don’t appear to be well monitored. Ø If suspicious, walk away. Ø Observe the ATM Ø Pay attention to anything such as an extra mirror on the face of the machine or extra signage. Ø If the ATM appears to have anything stuck onto the card slot or keypad do not use it. Ø Cancel the transaction and walk away. Ø Notify the gardai/ police immediately. Online Fraud Phishing is a form of online fraud where fake emails or websites, supposedly from a legitimate company seek to obtain your confidential account details. This is done with a view to conducting illegal transactions on your account. If you think you may be a victim of a phishing attack Ø Notify the relevant financial institution Ø Change your passwords immediately Ø Notify the gardai/ police. Remember Ø Your bank will NEVER send you an email requesting your bank security details. Ø You will only need your security details when logging onto your bank’s Internet banking service. Ø Do not share your password with anyone. Ø Be wary of clicking on links, they can lead to false sites. Ø Review your credit card and bank statements regularly to reveal any problems or inconsistencies. Ø Ensure that your pc is adequately protected. Ø Install a reliable anti-spyware application. Ø Activate a firewall. Ø Be security conscious when surfing and downloading. Ø Only download from sites you trust. Ø Any unsolicited request for bank account information you receive through pop-up windows should be considered fraudulent and reported immediately. Buying/ selling online When selling high value goods over the Internet, be wary of cheques/ drafts received for a sum in excess of the agreed amount. Fraudsters may claim that this extra money is to pay a handling agent or to cover shipping costs. Ø Do not transfer from your own account in order to refund the ‘surplus’ money. Ø Do not release cash or goods until you are quite certain that the cheque or draft received by you has been paid. Ø Bring such cheques or drafts to the attention of your bank before lodging. Ø Report any fraudulent activity to your local Garda/ Police station. Common types of fraud Advance Fee Fraud This type of fraud occurs where people are persuaded to advance sums of money in the hope of gaining a much larger sum. A variation on this is where an email puports to come from 'bank staff' who are trying to steal from dormant accounts. Ø Do not respond to emails such as these. Ø Report them to your internet service provider and to the gardai/ police. Investment Fraud This type of fraud occurs where people receive usually unsolicited emails offering them investment opportunities, such as shares that are ‘about to go through the roof’. Ø Check if the company is properly authorised. Ø Do not respond to high pressure tactics Ø Get proper advice before investing Ø Report any unsolicited approaches to the gardai/ police. Fraud against the elderly Elderly people may be particularly vulnerable to bogus door to door ‘tradesmen’ who offer to carry out work such as mending roof tiles/ guttering or decorating. On completing the ‘work’ they then demand exorbitant payment, sometimes even offering to drive the elderly person to the bank in order to withdraw money. Remember Ø Never leave strangers unsupervised in your home. Ø Never engage a person who insists on cash for services. Ø Never sign a blank form for any reason. Money Mules Fraudsters contact victims with ‘job vacancy’ ads on the internet, on job vacancy websites or on the papers. The only requirement for the job is for the victim to have a bank account. Once recruited, a ‘money mule’ receives stolen money into their account, followed by a request to forward the funds, minus their commission, usually overseas. Ø Thoroughly research any work-from home job offer and do not get involved unless sure that it is legitimate. Ø If a job sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Lottery Frauds An email is received telling the receiver that they have won the lottery-no ticket purchase was necessary, according to the scammers. The victim is encouraged to pay a fee before the winning lottery cheque is handed over. Ø Do NOT become involved or communicate with the scammers in any way. And finally.... Counterfeit Bank Notes Ø Familiarise yourself with some basic ways to check bank notes. Ø The raised printing can be felt on all genuine notes. Ø Hold the note against a light source, the denomination in the top left hand corner should be fully visible and perfectly formed. Ø There is a security thread embedded in genuine notes. Ø The security thread and water mark are visible when the note is held against a bright light source. Ø The water mark is visible from front and back of the note. Ø The water mark comprises the main architectural motif and the value numeral of the note. Ø Do not rely totally on the effectiveness of a ‘counterfeit’ pen. Use it as a guide only. Ø Do not rely on any one feature to assess if the note is genuine. Ø If in doubt, refer to a financial institution.