Image of woman using a smartphone

The Internet has revolutionised our world, changing the way in which we communicate, purchase products and services, and manage our finances. Yet the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that nearly six million fraud and cyber crimes were committed in the UK over the course of the last year, reaffirming the need for us all to stay vigilant against fraud.

The findings, from the ONS’s official Crime Survey for England and Wales, mark the first time that fraud has been added to the questionnaire. The Crime Survey for England and Wales indicates that of these figures, the most common types of fraud experienced were bank and credit account fraud, with 2.5 million incidents, followed by ‘non-investment’ fraud, which includes scams related to online shopping. The findings coincide with industry-wide reports of scammers inserting themselves into customer support conversations on social media and ‘assisting’ users by directing them to unwittingly click on phishing links.  

What does social engineering look like?

  • Scammers are replicating financial providers’ twitter handles in order to divert customers to phishing sites.
  • The scammers will set up twitter handles that look very similar to those of genuine financial providers and therefore masquerade as portals that clients would visit as a matter of course.
  • Once the imitation account has been set up, the scammer will hunt for victims by honing in on mentions on twitter of the official support channel, ‘gate crashing’ conversations and directing unwitting individuals to phishing links.

How to protect yourself

  • Be aware that due to the depth of our relationships with clients, Coutts will never engage on an individual basis over twitter. Should you wish to contact Coutts, please do so through the many channels we offer, from secure messaging, Coutts 24 or through your private banker or wealth manager.
  • Be careful who you accept as friends or contacts, being particularly cautious of people you don’t know on a first-hand basis. They might not be who they seem and could potentially cause you harm
  • Be careful about what private or confidential information you reveal in posts or profiles about yourself or your family. Phone numbers, pictures of your home, workplace or school, your address or birthdays could all help criminals piece together a profile of you or those close to you.
  • Review your privacy settings and friend/contact lists on a regular basis
  • Be aware of and look out for phishing scams, including fake friend requests and posts from companies inviting you to visit other pages or sites.

Protecting your identity - top tips

  • Install anti-virus/firewall software on your devices and regularly update it.
  • Never reveal your card or online banking PIN. Ever. To anyone.
  • Choose strong passwords and do not use the same PIN and password for everything.
  • Keep your bank updated with new contact details.
  • Check your statements and immediately report anything you do not recognise.
  • Securely store financial and other valuable documents such as your passport.
  • Ensure you dispose of documents diligently (for example, use a cross cut shredder to destroy statements when no longer required).
  • Where you suspect suspicious activity on your email account, change your password immediately and contact your provider to protect the account from further unauthorised usage.

For more information on how to protect yourself, visit our Security Centre

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