The 13th September marks the start of Take Five Week, with this year’s theme being ‘The Art of Saying No’. The initiative aims to help people feel empowered to say no to fraudsters. Sarah Lenette, Starling’s financial crime specialist, takes a look at how to stay safe.


Have you ever agreed to plans for something you really didn’t want to do? Or walked down the high street and been unable to resist buying something from that fast-talking street vendor? If the answer is yes, you’re not the only one. New research by Take Five, a national anti-fraud campaign funded by the financial services industry, has revealed that 92% of UK adults have said yes to something to avoid appearing rude.

When it comes to scams, fraudsters will play on the fact that people find it difficult to say no, and try to con them into handing over their personal information or their money.

Imagine this:

You receive a call out of the blue from what seems to be your current internet provider telling you that your connection has been compromised. The call seems to come from a number that is the same as the one you find when you Google the company name. The caller tells you that in order to prevent criminals from being able to steal all the money in your bank accounts, you need to move the funds to a new account that has been set up for you.

The mention of moving any funds at all should set your alarm bells ringing immediately.

Now is the time to Stop, Challenge and Protect.

Stop

First of all, if you are contacted out of the blue by phone, text or email, always stop and think: is this person who they say they are?

You may have heard of spoofing, where calls or texts are made to look like they’re coming from a genuine organisation. Email accounts can also be hacked by criminals, or they can set up new email addresses which look very similar to an address you may be expecting to hear from. These are all extremely common techniques used by criminals to make their scams appear legitimate. The fraudsters will also try to rush or panic you in an attempt to manipulate.

Fraudsters impersonate internet providers. They also impersonate banks, law enforcement and HMRC. It’s important to remember that a genuine organisation would never call and ask you to move your money into a new bank account to keep it safe, or ask you to immediately pay a fine/tax bill you had no prior knowledge of.

You should never give out your online banking login details or PIN. Starling or other banks would never ask for these details. Learn more about the different techniques scammers use in our impersonation scam blog.

Challenge

Now is the time to challenge the person on the phone.

If there is any chance you’re speaking to a criminal, you should feel empowered to say no! You don’t even need to enter into a conversation with them - you can just hang up.

A genuine organisation would never put pressure on you to divulge personal information or to make an immediate payment without giving you an opportunity to verify who they are. The pressure is a red flag that the call isn’t from who you think it is.

Even if the person on the phone already has information about you (like your email address, date of birth or mothers maiden name), it doesn’t mean that they are genuine - they may have done some research on you.

Legitimate companies would always be happy for you to not accept their call, and for you to instead call back on the number that is on their website. Don’t call back on any numbers that are given to you on that call, or by email, as these could be scam numbers created by the fraudsters.

If you have been called on a landline, make sure you call back from a different device so that scammers can’t keep the original line open. You can also get in touch with Starling via your app.

Protect

Remember that being direct and hanging up the phone will help you protect yourself from criminals! You can also help prevent yourself from being targeted by keeping your personal and financial information safe.

Take Five is a national campaign led by UK Finance and backed by the government, offering simple advice on how you can avoid fraud. Visit the Take Five website or follow them on social media for regular updates on the latest scams.

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