Eight scams to watch out for in 2018

High street bank NatWest has compiled a list of scams to watch out for this year after working with a research firm to analyse trends from the past 18 months.

Their top eight scams to watch out for in 2018 are:

Social media spying Be mindful that what you post on social media can often help fraudsters set up a scam.

Malicious software on smartphones It’s expected threats will grow among mobile devices.

Bogus Brexit investments Consumers should be wary of fake investment opportunities. For example, scammers may email customers, warning that Brexit will affect their savings and that they urgently need to move them into a seemingly plausible, but actually fake, investment product.

Fraudsters preying on World Cup excitement Some fraudsters are expected to sell football tickets that are either fake or will never arrive. Fake travel companies may also offer ‘package trips’.

Money mules Fraudsters trawl social media to identify potential targets – often university students – and use them to inadvertently launder money. Mules have the stolen funds deposited into their bank account then are asked to withdraw the money and send it to a different account, often one overseas, keeping some of the money for themselves as a fee.

Wedding excitement Scammers can set up fake websites that tempt people with bargain offers for elements of the big day, such as venue hire, catering, or wedding dresses, that appear very realistic, particularly as excitement builds around Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding.

Romance scams Criminals create fake profiles to form a relationship with their victims and use messaging to mine victims’ personal details to use for identity fraud. Or, just when the victim thinks they have met the perfect partner the scammer asks them for money. Here’s our advice on how to stay safe on dating websites and apps.

Scams aimed at first-time buyers Computer hackers monitor emails sent by a solicitor to a first-time buyer and then they pounce, pretending to be the solicitor and telling them the solicitors’ bank account details have changed in order to steal cash.

To help customers navigate these potential frauds and scams, NatWest has developed its top tips for consumers to remember when banking online:

1. Be vigilant. Just because someone knows basic personal details (such as names and addresses or even a customer’s mother’s maiden name), it doesn’t mean they are genuine. We advise customers to listen to their instincts – if something feels wrong then it is usually right to pause and question it.

2. Customers should always follow their bank’s security advice and never provide remote access to their device when asked to do so following a cold call.

3. Customers should be cautious with what they disclose on social media and take precautions to ensure that their profile is private and only viewable to people they know.

4. Customers should keep their mobile devices’ operating systems up to date to ensure that they have the latest security patches and upgrades. Think carefully before jail breaking or rooting a device as it may weaken security and expose it to additional risks.

5. A genuine bank or organisation will never ask a customer to transfer money for fraud reasons or contact them out of the blue to ask for their PIN or full password.  Stay in control and have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for information.

Julie McArdle, NatWest Security Manager commented: “At NatWest, our top priority is keeping our customers safe and secure online. Financial fraud is now the most common crime in the UK, and we want to help our customers understand the different types of scams that might emerge in 2018 and how they can best protect themselves.”

The full report can be read here.

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