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Fraud - Urban Myths

Urban fraud myths are everywhere, which if believed often leave people in danger of becoming a victim of fraud and cyber crime.

Urban fraud myths title picIn the last financial year 3,543 people reported that they had been a victim of dating fraud to Action Fraud, with a total financial loss of £33,650,491. Dating fraudsters are often particularly convincing and if the person also thinks that they have already been vetted by the dating website, it makes it even easier for the fraudster to manipulate their victim.

Staffordshire Police work closely with the Action Fraud team to investigate fraud, gather intelligence about those involved and tackling those criminals who target us all.

Below are some common fraud myths that everyone should be aware of (posters for these can be downloaded from Action Fraud - Urban Fraud Myths).

Myth 1: Dating Fraud

Fraud myth 1Myth: I can always trust the people I meet on online dating sites as they will have been vetted before being allowed to join.

Reality: Most dating websites allow people to sign-up without vetting checks. Always be cautious about the people you meet online, especially if they start asking for money to help a family member, to visit you or pay medical bills etc. Never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you don't know and trust.

Myth 2: Spoofing

Fraud myth 2Myth: When someone phones me, the caller number displayed must be genuine.

Reality: Numbers can be 'spoofed' to mislead the person answering the call, never trust the number you see on your telephone's display. Like telephone numbers, text messages can also be spoofed to look like they are coming from elsewhere - even if the text appears in the same chain as previous messages.

Myth 3: Pin Safety

Fraud myth 3Myth: Bank staff might ask you for your PIN number or online banking password to check who you are when they call you.

Reality: Bank staff will never ask for your 4-digit card PIN number or online banking password when speaking with you over the phone. They would never ask you to tap them into the telephone keypad either. 

Myth 4: Money Mules

Fraud myth 4Myth: It's ok to let people put money in my bank account even if I don't know them and don't really understand why they are transferring me the money.

Reality: Whether you do so in return for payment or out of a sense of duty, this is not advisable. In letting someone else use your account, you might be laundering the proceeds of crime or aiding other crimes - thereby leaving yourself open to face prosecution.

Myth 5: Public Wi-fi

Fraud myth 5Myth: Public wi-fi is secure and provides a safe forum in which I can do my online banking, shopping etc.

Reality: Any data sent through public wi-fi can be intercepted unless you have taken steps to encrypt your data. If you are using a mobile device over public wi-fi, you are risking the security of your personal information, digital identity and your money. Risks are even greater if your device or computer is not protected by an effective security system.

Myth 6: Intellectual Property Fraud

Fraud myth 6Myth: Downloading digital content illegally is harmless.

Reality: This type of crime is far from victimless and has serious repercussions. Doing so can result in money being used to fund the activities of serious organised crime groups and also has an adverse impact on creative industries and the UK economy.

Myth 7: Insurance Fraud

Fraud myth 7Myth: Changing details on my insurance policy or making an inflated insurance claim is not really fraud as everyone does it, I won't get caught and insurers can afford it anyway.

Reality: Insurance fraud is a crime that is taken seriously by both insurers and police. The cost of fraud does not affect just insurers, but members of the public also. The chances of being caught are high and the impact on people's lives can be devastating.

Myth 8: Money Transfer Systems

Fraud myth 8Myth: Money transfer systems are always safe ways of making payments.

Reality: This is only the case if you personally know and can verify the person that you are sending the money to. You should take caution when sending money using these services as once the cash is collected, the recipient is untraceable and the money is not refundable.

Myth 9: Passwords

Fraud myth 9Myth: There's nothing in my personal emails that anyone would care about.

Reality: Hackers can use your email to gain access to all your personal accounts. Make your password stronger with three random words.

Myth 10: Social Engineering

Fraud myth 10Myth: It doesn't really matter what information I post on social media sites as only my friends can read it.

Reality: By getting your privacy settings wrong or accepting people you don't know as friends, you may be giving fraudsters valuable information about you and your habits. Personal details can be used to guess passwords, habits and vulnerabilities so you need to check your social media settings regularly. All personal information is valuable and fraudsters are very good at filling in the missing information.

Myth 11: Legitimate Websites

Fraud myth 11Myth: If a company has a registered website then it must be legitimate.

Reality: It takes just minutes to set up a website in any name you want and at minimal cost, which means fraudsters can set up a website just as easily as anyone else.

Myth 12: Anti-virus Software

Fraud myth 12Myth: If I have anti-virus installed on my device (PC, mobile, tablet) I am fully protected from viruses.

Reality: It is true that anti-virus provides a very strong layer of protection to your device. However, it can still be bypassed by sophisticated viruses, aka malware. You need to ensure you keep your AV software, operating systems and other security measures up to date.

Myth 13: Charity Fraud

Fraud myth 13Myth: It is always safe to make charitable donations to street collectors or via charity mailing.

Reality: Most collections are genuine but check before giving to make sure your money goes to genuine, registered charities.

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