Beware the latest online scam

Beware the latest online scamIt’s been far too easy to pay the conman! 

You know those situations where you’ve been innocently doing something for years, believing it to be a safe practice – then one day you find out how dangerous it actually was? Like cycling without a helmet, repeatedly reheating chicken, or spending hours in the sun cultivating the perfect tan.  

Well, here is another thing to watch a bit more carefully.  

You know when you set up a new payee on your online banking screen or mobile app? You carefully check the account details two or three times, and make sure the sort-code is correct (taking some small comfort when the system tells you that you at least have the right bank). Just to be sure, however, you confidently type in the recipient’s name and proceed to send them some of your hard-earned cash. Well, just so that you know, the bank ignores the last bit. That’s right – the banks do not currently cross-reference the name of the account with the account details and sort-code that you have entered. 

Things are changing, but…  

This piece of scary information has come to light with the introduction of ‘confirmation of payee’ which is expected to roll out to all banks and buildings societies by July 2019. This means that the corresponding name checks have to be made and verified.  

Apart from the issue of people being widely ignorant of the current system’s flaws, the problems that have arisen as a result are clear. Firstly, there is the case of human error, where all the careful checking still doesn’t eliminate mistakes, or the numbers were just entered in haste. Although time-consuming, embarrassing and complex – these cases are usually resolved because the recipient should also recognise the innocent error. The second issue is a much bigger one – because it is out-and-out fraud.  

It is estimated that in the first half of 2018, £145 million was stolen by conmen, who sent requests for payment with false account numbers. The way they operate is to intercept legitimate bills and invoices, using the same name, but with their own details. Their victims, who are expecting the request for payment, go ahead and blindly transfer the money – trusting the bank to check that they are sending it to the right person – the one they name in the account details.  

The biggest tragedy here is that the sender officially authorised the payment, so they have no legal protection and are liable for the losses.  

So, the message is simple – be more careful now and roll on July 2019. 

Here are our top three tips for making safe payments: 

1) Never pay by clicking on the link in an email. Whenever you are sent a request for payment, by email, even if you know it is coming and expect to receive the invoice – go to the payment site manually.  

2) Always check and double check the sender’s details. If you have to (it is better to look over-cautious than to be caught out) phone them up and see if they sent the email.  

3) Don’t give any personal information over the phone, especially not PIN numbers or other such details – your bank will NEVER ask you for this. 

This is important – and most people are unaware of this issue – so please share this post with your friends and family. You might just save them a fortune!