Knowing how to avoid fraud has always been important but, in the age of COVID-19, we all need to be more vigilant than ever. Read on to find out more…
We’ve all heard about a horror story related to fraud. Whether it’s someone you know personally, or a story you’ve seen in the news, fraudulent activity is happening all around us, all the time.
Unfortunately, fraudsters have used the currently uncertain economic climate to exploit people in all manner of ways. Because of this, instances of fraud have increased dramatically since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether it be corporate fraud or personal fraud, knowing how to avoid it isn’t always straightforward. So, it’s more important than ever to stay one step ahead of the fraudsters. To learn more about the types of fraud you could fall victim to and how to avoid that from happening, read on…
Types of Fraud You Can Fall Victim To
There are a number of ways that fraudsters can use financial data to commit financial fraud, one of which is known as mandate fraud. This is where a fraudster poses as an organisation you pay a standing order or direct debit to, asking you to redirect the money to their own accounts.
This could be done by sending a fake letter, email or text message, informing someone that they need to urgently update their payment details.
Identify theft is as simple as it sounds. A fraudster impersonates someone using stolen personal information to access financial services or existing accounts.
Someone may be able to commit identity theft by simply gaining access to passwords and searching for personal information on social media. Alternatively, they may use more nefarious methods, such as using malware or false ATM’s.
Phishing involves the use of emails or pop-up messages that appear to be from a reliable source. A phishing scam will usually ask you to update or validate your account details, which means the fraudsters will have direct access to said details.
It may also ask you to click a link for urgent reasons. Upon clicking it, an empty browser will appear, but this could open your device and systems up to secret malware you may be unaware of.
Corporate fraud refers to fraudulent activity that is committed by a company, or an employee acting on behalf of a company. Corporate fraud schemes are often incredibly complicated, and involve a range of different factors, including:
- Market abuse
- Insider trading
- Procurement fraud
- False expenses claims
- Payroll fraud
7 Tips for Avoiding Fraud
So, now we know some of the different types of fraud that can occur, we need to discuss how to avoid fraud in the first place. Here are some top tips to keep in mind, so you’re able to avoid the possibility of becoming a victim of fraud.
1. Carefully Check the Source of Emails
If you receive a suspicious looking email asking you to supply personal information, then your first step should be to check the sender’s details.
Although the sender may appear to be from a reputable source, you will always be able to see the exact address that the email has been sent from. Often, this address will not match up with the supposed sender’s official contact details.
2. Check for Grammatical Mistakes
Fraudulent correspondence often includes grammatical and spelling mistakes, which is a clear sign that’s something is afoot. If you read something that doesn’t make sense, or contains broken English, then you should be careful about opening any links or following certain instructions.
3. Use the Official Contact Details to Speak to the Company in Question
If a company is asking you to do something you don’t feel comfortable doing, or you feel as though an email, letter, or text message is suspicious, then you should use the official contact details for the company in question to speak to them.
Visit their official website and go through the proper means to get in touch with a member of staff. They should then be able to let you know if you should follow the instructions laid out in the original message.
4. Never Hand Over Money to Unfamiliar Companies or Individuals
This goes without saying, but if you don’t recognise a company or individual – or you know for certain that you have never used a company before – then you should not hand over any financial information. You wouldn’t give someone in the street your bank details, right?
If you’ve never heard of a company before, a quick Google search will usually help to confirm your suspicions.
What’s more, if a company you are liaising with suddenly emails you about a change in bank details, this is also a red flag. Always default to the “call the real company to check” method.
5. Never Log into Anything Using a Link
If you need to log into an account, the safest way of doing so is to go straight to the website yourself, rather than following a link you’re sent. While the links you follow from an email might appear to look legitimate, they are often very accurate mock-ups of the actual site you think you are visiting.
6. Check for HTTPS or SSL Protocols
Another simple of way of checking whether the site you’re using is genuine is to check for HTTPS or SLL certifications. Next to the URL at the top of the page, there should be a padlock symbol, indicating that the website is secure to visit. If not, steer clear.
7. Make Sure to Report Scams as Soon as Possible
Many people make the mistake of not reporting fraudulent activity as soon as they are aware of it. This might be because they think they will be able to solve the issue themselves, or because they feel embarrassed about the situation.
If you have been caught out by fraud, then your first step should be to report it to your financial provider. Knowing how to avoid fraud isn’t always simple, so, if you do get caught it out, make sure the right people are made aware.
Are You Worried About Falling Victim to Fraud?
Hopefully this post has given you a better idea about the various types of fraud and the ways you can avoid becoming an unfortunate victim.
In the age of COVID-19, we all need to be extra vigilant. If you keep these tips in mind, you should be able to steer well clear of the fraudsters!
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.