Fraud: spotting it & keeping yourself safe
As technology improves, so too do the methods fraudsters use to take advantage of it. Fraud comes in many guises and, in order to avoid any financial fraud taking place, we think it’s always worth being armed with the facts.
At Hodge, keeping your details safe is our priority. We make sure that the systems we use have the right controls in place so that your data is protected, secure and is only accessible by you when you need it.
We can’t always prevent something from happening, but with your help we can make sure the risk and impact to you is minimal – and that we respond quickly.
How to recognise fraud and what to watch out for
Financial fraud occurs when someone takes money or other assets from you through deception or criminal activity. Understanding the various types of financial fraud and how you can protect yourself is the first step to making sure you don’t become a victim.
There are many different types of fraud and there are countless ways criminals will try their luck.
Here are some of the most common online fraud techniques you should look out for:
Phishing emails can appear very convincing, but there are a few things you can look out for which may reveal an email to be not quite what it seems, including:
- Spelling mistakes or grammatical errors
- Being addressed to Sir or Madam rather than you directly
- Unusual email addresses – if you check the address, it may appear legitimate at first, but look closer, it may not be as legitimate as it first appeared. Hovering over the address with the mouse can sometimes show a different email all together.
- They may offer something of value for free, for example lots of phishing emails currently claim to be from a local council offering money in line with the Government’s COVID-19 initiatives
- There will often be a sense of urgency to create a sense of panic that you should respond immediately. You should never feel pressured to respond.
Credit or debit card fraud
Credit fraud is the criminal use of someone else’s personal credentials, as well as their credit standing, to borrow money or use credit cards to purchase goods or services with no intention of repaying the debt. This is especially common on the internet, particularly when the victim ‘thinks they are helping a friend in need.
If you do need to give information to a friend, you should at least confirm with him or her that he/she is indeed the one who sent the distressed message asking for financial aid. In real emergencies, you should try to contact that person via telephone to establish payment details.
SMiShing (SMS phishing)
This is carried out via text message. As with phishing and vishing, the fraudsters will impersonate a reputable company. The SMS will either ask you to open a link where you’ll need to enter your personal information or phone up a number and verify details with them.
Malware scams work by installing software on your computer that allows scammers to access your files or watch what you are doing on your computer. Scammers use this information to steal your personal details and commit fraudulent activities.
They may make unauthorised purchases on your credit card, or use your identity to open accounts such as banking, telephone or energy services. They might take out loans or carry out other illegal business under your name, or even sell your information to other scammers for further illegal use.
Fraudulent “Pop-up” Windows
These are a type of online fraud often used to obtain personal information. They are the windows or ads that appear suddenly over or under the window you are currently viewing. Fraudulent websites or pop-up windows are used to collect your personal information.
Fraudulent websites, e-mails or pop-up windows will often:
- Ask you for personal information (Account number, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, etc.).
- Appear to be from a legitimate source (Retail Stores, Banks, Government agencies, etc.).
- Contain prizes or other types of certificate notices.
- Link to other real or counterfeit websites.
- Contain fraudulent phone numbers.
What we’re doing to help protect you and your data, and prevent fraudulent activities
At Hodge, we make sure your personal data and money is kept as secure as possible by monitoring our systems constantly for any unusual activity. We may contact you if we become aware of anything suspicious. Remember, if you notice anything unusual or suspicious on your account(s) please let us know as soon as you can.
If you’re a victim of fraud, we’ll help you get the support and tools to keep your information and money safe in the future.
We’ll also keep you up to date with our latest security advice. Occasionally, you may see details on our website with hints and tips for you to improve the security of your data. This could include making sure you use strong passwords and asking you to update us if any of your personal details change.
It’s important to remember Hodge will never call, email or text and ask you to:
- Reveal your PIN code, expiry date, the last three digits of the security code on the back of your card (CVV number), or anything else
- Transfer money between accounts
- Share account details including user IDs, memorable details or passwords
- Tell them your Personal Security Number (PSN) for Telephone Banking.
What you can do to help prevent online fraud
To avoid becoming a victim of online crime you don’t need to be a computer expert. Developing a few good online habits drastically reduces your chances of becoming a victim of cybercrime, makes you less vulnerable and lets you use the web safely.
There are several steps you can take to protect yourself and your data:
Install anti-virus software
Your data and money can be stolen through malicious content on your device. Using up to date anti-virus software from a well-known, reputable company installed on your device helps to minimise the risk of it being accessed.
Sharing personal information
If you use social media, check the privacy settings so that personal data is protected. Make sure that you don’t share confidential information on social media such as your address or bank account information as this can often be viewed publicly. Take care when uploading photos to these sites too, for example, making sure your bank card or passport information cannot be seen.
Remember that people will make a lot of effort to get hold of your information, so always be careful.
You should never tell anybody what your passwords are, write them down or store them somewhere that can be easily accessed, this includes your mobile phone.
When creating a password, use a mix of upper and lower case letters, and include numbers and symbols. A passphrase is more secure than just a word. Perhaps think of a memorable phrase such as ‘ilovegoingonholiday’ and swap some of the letters around and add in numbers, such as 1lov3go1ng0nHo1idaY!, this makes it harder for anyone to guess.
We’ll never ask you to share your password with us.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud at any point, please change all passwords and the email address linked to your Hodge account.
Secure internet connections
Ensure that you are using a secure Wi-Fi connection, ideally one that isn’t publicly accessible. Look out for the padlock symbol in your browser address bar, this confirms that your connection to the site is secure.
The padlock confirms the connection is safe, but it doesn’t tell you if the website is genuine. Check for spelling and grammar mistakes, or other signs that suggest the site is not real. Phishing sites will often use similar looking characters to imitate genuine sites.