Perhaps one of the least expected by-products of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the surge in fraud, no matter where you live.
According to a PwC 2020 global fraud survey of more than 5,000 companies and individuals, 47% said they had experienced fraud in the past two years.
The bottom line of PwC’s findings is staggering – it concluded that in the previous two years $42 billion (more than £30 billion) was reported lost globally as a result of fraud.
In the UK, online fraudsters cheated consumers out of a record £479 million in 2020 according to UK Finance, the banking industry body. UK Finance found there was a 94% increase in “impersonation scams” – criminals posing as trusted organisations conning the public out of money.
Matters are scarcely any better in the US; financial fraud in the US rose by more than 104% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. The same source says that on the dark web a social security number – key for many kinds of financial transaction in the US – can be bought for little more than the price of a Starbucks’ latte. Stolen PII (Personally Identifiable Information) packages, which typically include the victim’s name, social security number, driver’s license number, passport number and email address, can be had for as little as $4 (under £3). There has never been a time when your personal data has been so valuable to you and so cheap for criminals.
Fraudsters have taken advantage of the explosion in online activity which has followed Covid; in the UK Office for National Statistics says the proportion of online sales in the UK has surged from 19% in February 2020 to 36% of the total by January this year.
Scammers have used outbreak of online activity as a cover for fake websites for vaccinations, or for false fines for breaching lockdown rules; the rise of online shopping has assisted criminals to target shoppers with fake messages about missed parcel deliveries, and to pose as software providers to target homeworkers.
Source: US Federal Trade Commission
UK Finance says that last year saw impersonation registering the “biggest increase of any scam type, almost doubling in 2020 compared to 2019”. Around half of last year’s total fraud loss was via payment cards, with 38% being from “authorised push payments”, i.e. victims of the fraud being manipulated into making real-time payments to fraudsters.
Know your enemy
UK Finance and the UK government have collaborated on a programme – called Take Five – to educate consumers about the nature of potential fraud and ways of mitigating risk. The risk is in a state of permanent flux, as development of the internet and artificial intelligence offer wider possibilities. According to Action Fraud, the UK’s National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, reports of scams relating to cryptocurrency investments went up by 57% (to more than 5,500) in 2020 and victims lost an estimated £113 million last year.
The UK’s banking industry introduced a voluntary code in May 2019 under which victims of authorised push payment scams could be reimbursed but, according to UK Finance this voluntary scheme “is not always working as intended, with a lack of consistency in consumer outcomes and a lack of clarity for signatories in how to implement it”. Caveat emptor is a sensible piece of advice, but criminals are using ever-sophisticated techniques. Banks are spending ever-bigger amounts on combatting fraud, but more can perhaps be done to educate their customers about the threats.
Security at Glint
At Glint, we take security very seriously indeed. We will continue to provide assistance and guidance to Glint clients in the light of new threats and vulnerabilities. We do our utmost to protect clients against fraudulent activity regarding their Glint accounts. If in doubt, clients can always block their Glint card via the Glint app. We always update clients about improvements in our security procedures that may affect them regarding payment services. Nevertheless, clients should immediately raise concerns regarding suspected fraudulent or malicious use of their Glint account.
To arm yourself against the criminal take these steps:
STOP: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
CHALLENGE: Could an email or SMS be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
PROTECT: Contact Glint immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam or have been the victim of fraud. Always report scams and fraud to Action Fraud in the UK and to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US.
We believe that gold is the only true form of reliable currency – and we want to make sure you hold onto your gold, so you can use it safely in your everyday life, to either help protect your savings against inflation, or to spend, anywhere in the world that accepts Mastercard®.
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