Last night, I was invited to the Huckletree by Mumsnet and Take Five to discuss how we can avoid online fraud.

Take Five is a national initiative from the FFA (part of UK Finance) and various partners from UK payments industry, financial services firms, law enforcement agencies, telecommunication providers, commercial, public and third sector. This is certainly not a ‘one party’ issue – as you can see, many people from different sectors are coming together to fight online fraud.

The panel comprised of Phil Robertson, head of fraud at Tesco Banking and Elaine Ross, head off fraud at TSB. They were joined by Tony Blake, who is the lead for fraud prevention for the dedicated police unit to card and payment crime. They shared their tips for preventing online fraud, which included phishing (asking for personal details via an email), smishing (done via SMS Texts) and vishing (Scams conducted via the ‘phone).

  1.  A fraudster can make any number appear on your handset, so it may well look identical to the number of your bank. The only safe way is to hang up, and call back up on a number you know is safe. However …
  2.  Call back from another line. Many fraudsters have access to high-level technology and are able to keep the line open and then take your call confirming your legitimacy.
  3.  If you are using an insecure wifi connection in a public place, avoid doing anything confidential, as the likelihood of your details been compromised is increased.
  4.  Never give out full passwords or pin numbers to anyone. A regulated financial service would never ask for full details – they always ask for the 2, 4 and 8 letter of your password for example.
  5. The best safety guard you have is your instinct. If it doesn’t feel right or looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t right or a good thing. There is no harm in hanging up, and calling or contacting your bank through a trusted method. Verification is key.
  6.  If you get an email from your bank, however genuine it looks, check the email address. You can do this by simply hovering your mouse over where the address is and it should appear, you won’t have clicked on it. More often that not, it will not be authentic.
  7.  If you think you have been a victim of fraud, call your bank immediately. Acting as quickly as you can to minimise the damage and stop the fraudster. Obviously, it is a case-by-case issue, but the sooner you can get on the ‘phone, the sooner your payments can hopefully be stopped.
  8.  When shopping online, always take five and think before the transaction. Shopping at trusted sites is obviously going to be more secure. If in doubt, don’t shop!
  9.  Although a credit card often offers more protection, always take five before sharing any information.
  10.  Always question sending money to a ‘safe account’, essentially you are authorising this ‘push payment’. The panel had seen this happen with people moving house and a solicitor asking them to put money in a different account, as the original bank details had been changed.

Ultimately, nobody is too smart to avoid being scammed. It is a massive misconception that it is only elderly people who are targeted, every demographic can be a victim of fraud. Be aware, take five, and verify whenever you have any correspondence concerning your financial matters.

The experts were also keen to tell us that the amount of money taken from ATMs every year is huge, and the amount taken by fraud is small by comparison. We shouldn’t be scared, just aware and safe. I thought the neon sign at the venue was rather apt!

Have you been the victim of online fraud? Do you have any other tips to try and avoid being scammed?

Thank you to Mumsnet and Take Five for an enlightening evening, do go and check out Take Five’s website for more information on avoiding Online Fraud.

#takefive, avoid online fraud

“I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.”