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Scams and fraudulent activity include schemes performed by dishonest individuals, groups or companies in an attempt to gain money or something of value. Cyber-crime is any criminal act dealing with computers, networks and hacking and can also include traditional crimes conducted through the internet.

Different types of scams and fraudulent activity can include:

Authorised Push Payments

Victims are manipulated into transferring money from their bank account to an account controlled by the fraudsters, often using social engineering methods, such as impersonating a trusted organisation such as an individual’s bank/building society.

Abuse of position/trust 

This occurs when someone abuses their position of authority/trust for personal or financial gain, or to cause someone else to lose money or status. Trusted third parties may be asked to look after an individual’s personal or business finances and may instead take advantage of their access for their own benefit.

Account takeover 

Fraudsters pose as a genuine customer to gain control of an account and make unauthorised transactions or account changes. Online banking accounts are usually taken over as a result of malware (software that is specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a computer system such as viruses), data leaks, or other forms of computer crime. Fraud has been committed once money has been lost. 

Cheque fraud 

Fraudsters may use one of many different ways of making a false cheque payment. They may use a counterfeit cheque, which has been made up by the fraudster to look real, or a forged cheque, which is genuine but stolen from somebody else with their signature faked.

Computer hacking 

Hacking is the act of identifying and then exploiting weaknesses in a computer system or network, usually to gain unauthorised access to personal or organizational data.

Strong passwords, keeping your operating system, applications, and browser up-to-date, and installing anti-virus are just a few ways to secure your computer.

Identity fraud/theft 

Use of a stolen identity in criminal activity to obtain goods/service by deception. This can occur regardless of whether the victim is alive or deceased.

Typically, a victim’s personal details (such as their name, date of birth, current/previous addresses) are stolen and the details are used to commit fraud including:

  • Opening bank accounts
  • Accessing and taking over existing accounts 
  • Obtaining genuine documents such as passports and driving licences in the victim's name.

Phishing, vishing and smishing

Fraudsters use the likes of websites, online services, phone calls or text messages posing as a company or brand you recognise to convince victims to hand over valuable personal details or money, or to download malicious software that compromises a victim's computer/device. These methods usually via email.

  • Phishing – the practice of sending emails that appear to be from legitimate sources such as companies, people you may know. In an attempt to induce individuals in revealing personal information. (such as usernames, passwords, memorable details)
  • Vishing – obtain personal details from a victim by phone and can use this personal information to commit fraud
  • Smishing – obtain personal details from an individual by SMS text messages.

Recent scams - take a look at some real life examples on the Action Fraud website.

Find out how you can protect yourself against fraud here.

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