A few weeks ago, I watched a BBC Panorama
programme focused on financial crime and the exploitation of legal loopholes by some individuals and companies in order to money launder. Perhaps most shockingly for me was, the UK was named as the worst offender in the world for fake businesses or premises going unregulated.
Do you know that financial scams and acts of fraud cost the UK taxpayer a staggering £7 billion per year? Also, despite a new police division being set up to tackle this – the ‘Dedicated Card & Payment Crime Unit’ – a mere £12.5 million has been recovered in the first six months of this year. In my opinion we really should be doing much better.
So, what is being done to tackle this new, sophisticated form of criminal activity? Is there enough support being given to those tasked with the recovering of funds, which ultimately costs us all in some shape or form?
And – in this present climate of the remote working era – financial crime goes way beyond moving money around from one address to another. These days, we are never off our phones or laptops and surely this can only ensure more targeted attacks.
So, when an email comes in saying there has been suspicious activity on your account or you need to update your card details, how closely are some paying attention to the sender’s email address?
Financial fraudsters are becoming more insidious. They are pretending to be your bank – texting, calling or video chatting with you. They are pretending to be PayPal or Amazon etc. via email. All with one common goal – to empty your bank account with details you were tricked into handing over.
Or worse, some fraudsters are now following social media accounts and picking up information such as your address history and dates of births simply from images or text that have been posted. According to Which?
Instances of internet banking fraud increased by 24% in 2019, with total fraud losses coming in at around £111 million. This number is only going to rise given how this is currently being managed in the UK but also globally.
Technology absolutely must be embraced by our banks who – in conjunction with the law – can help to educate customers about potential scams. I’d like to see more revenue pushed into this area by our financial bodies to tackle this growing trend head on.
programme highlighted the need for there to be more scrutiny on our banking processes – how thoroughly are addresses, business names and identification documents are checked – and better support for those who use banking services honestly.
The world of financial crime is changing and evolving. We are not talking about Victorian pickpockets working their way through a crowd, we are talking about sophisticated hackers mining for data (or, in some particularly cruel instances, simply asking for it directly).
So, in order to keep up, banks need to hire more talented specialists to stay on top of irregular activity and spot fraud before it evolves and more customers fall victim. Education, social awareness campaigns and heightened app security are just some of the ways they can achieve this.
After all, in some way or another, all of us have lost out on the aforementioned £7 billion …
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