Luckily, here at Starling, we have an amazing, experienced Financial Crime Team who are constantly keeping on-top of existing and emerging threats, to prevent and detect fraud at the earliest opportunity.
If you’ve stumbled across any blog on financial crime before, it’s incredibly likely that you’ll be familiar with the age-old saying “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. Personally, I find this to be more relevant than ever – especially as I wade through the flood of spam emails that hit my inbox before 7am. However, with more and more of us bagging ourselves an online bargain during the sales, it’s perhaps not the most helpful message to take away from a blog.
So, to put a slightly different spin on things – I thought it might help to run through a few common scams out there, and how can you spot them.
Criminals can be extremely good at creating fake websites, over the years whilst investigating fraud, I have seen some very convincing examples. I tend to check the legitimacy of any website that I haven’t used before, but I am particularly wary around the bigger sale periods of the year – such as Black Friday or Boxing Day, when many of us are actively looking for bargains. But how can you tell?
Double check the domain name. Does it appear legitimate? It is unusual for a shopping domain to use .net or .org for trading purposes.
Is the company asking for payment by bank transfer? An established organisation is unlikely to offer this – it also offers you less protection as a customer, compared to a payment via debit or credit card, should the website turn out to be fake.
Have a browse of the website. I pay particular attention to the ‘about us’ and ‘contact us’ sections, is there sufficient detail to make you comfortable? Also, evidence of poor spelling or grammar across the website should heighten your suspicions.
Check several online reviews and the company social media. If you can’t find much about the company via sources such as Feefo or Trustpilot, and their social media is non-existent or doesn’t appear to be established, then the legitimacy should be questioned.
But, fake websites are just one way a fraudster may try to obtain your personal or financial details. They may also attempt to get in-touch with you directly, via phone, email or text – to obtain sensitive information. Because of the differences in approach, each of these has a slightly different name in the world of financial crime.