Despite continuous reports of financial fraud in the media, history appears to keep repeating itself. The same frauds are still being carried out, and the only real difference, is an increase in the level of fraud, not a decrease due to increased awareness. Earlier this month I published an article called ‘deviation from the norm’ which encourages people to be more suspicious when they are asked to take action which they would not normally do, or that is different from how most people do things. This is a follow-up to look at some situations that are still endemic throughout society and which, in some cases, are having a life-changing negative impact on people’s lives.
- Never use bank transfers to send money to someone you have not met in person, or with whom you have no prior or existing business or personal relationship. Payment for goods and services with Visa or Mastercard has the added security in that if goods or services are not delivered, a chargeback to the card can be processed by the bank. Sites such as eBay have their own processes and refunds that can be processed without needing to involve the bank. Bank transfers bypass this safety net completely and refunds will not be processed if goods or services are not delivered.
- Although cheques are in significant decline, it is still important to remember that cheques can take several days to clear, can still be cancelled at any time, and can bounce if funds are not available in the originating account. Wait until funds have cleared before delivering goods or services. Do NOT take any action with the money until it is cleared, including the processing of any refund, or refund of any overpayment which may have been received.
- Do not make a payment of fees or taxes up front in order to receive a larger pay out. Upfront fees for Lottery winnings are still a common theme, but also advance fees for loan applications which never materialise. In cases where advance fees include a guarantee that a loan will be offered or fees refunded, an offer is made but is rejected because the terms and conditions are so bad. For example, being offered a loan with 2000% APR.
- Never transfer money up front to anyone in connection with a job application. This is not how it works. If you are applying for a job, the expectation should be that your future employer will pay you.
Never send money in response to emergencies reported by family without verifying the facts and speaking to the family member in distress. This comes in the form of lost wallets and an urgent need for money to be transferred to a friend in order to survive in a foreign country, or being sick and needing to pay for urgent medical care, or arrested and need to pay fees to be released. Whatever form this takes, it exploits the love and care for a family member or friend, and pushes you into responding quickly before you have a chance to realise there is no real emergency.
Robert is an information security consultant with over 20 years of experience across a diverse range of organisations, both in the UK and internationally. Robert graduated in 1997 with an honours degree in software engineering for security and safety-critical systems. Robert is contactable directly through LinkedIn.