TSB is warning of a rise in cost-of-living scams carried out by scammers impersonating family and close friends. The research is interesting for insurance brands who will be looking for trends in attempted fraud, exaggerated claims and “fronting” where an older family member insures a car for a young driver.
The scam has spiked by 58 percent, says TSB, since the same point last year, as fraudsters typically impersonate their targets’ sons and daughters with bogus requests for help paying bills. Over the month analysed, TSB reported cases ranging from £50.00 right up to £9,500.00 (a case in which TSB prevented payments) – with an average loss of £1500.
One such case saw a 71-year-old customer send £1,700 to a fraudster following an urgent, emotive request claiming to be from his daughter needing money to help with bills. A fraudster also stole £50 from a 29-year-old customer after impersonating a close friend and requesting support for energy payments.
TSB found that WhatsApp is by far the preferred communication route of Friends & Family scammers, accounting for nine in 10 (89%) of all cases analysed. This social media channel, owned by Facebook, is a popular way for ghost brokers to share their ludicrously low quotes for delivery driver/rider insurance too.
Advanced Fee Fraud has increased by 53 percent, says TSB, to become the third biggest fraud category by volume – with an average loss of £550 per case. The scam typically targets some of the most financially vulnerable by persuading victims to pay an upfront fee to access non-existent loans, services, or prizes.
A 32-year-old customer was refunded £1,800 by TSB after making a payment to a company named “IVA relief,” which claimed to help people with managing their debts. After making the down payment with the promise that debts would be managed and cleared, he contacted the ‘company’ to find the line dead.
Fraudsters are always changing tactics, so if insurers and brokers can monitor IP or email addresses, social media channels used, payments apps, or common ID like driving licences being used in other suspected fraud, then the chances of being exposed to an insurance claim in the future can be reduced.
Paul Davis, Director of Fraud Prevention, TSB said:
“A fraud loss will be particularly painful for households during these tough economic conditions, so we are urging the public to be extra vigilant to unsolicited contact, or online offers that could well be a scam.
“With over half of fraud losses not refunded to victims by other banks – take your time and don’t rush in, no matter how emotive and urgent the request.”
Steven Wood, Director, EMEA, APAC, OpenText Security Solutions
“Cybercriminals and fraudsters often use the latest news agenda and topics of concern to lure innocent people into clicking on links and giving up details or spending large amounts of money from their accounts. Scams using keywords based on emotive subjects such as the cost-of-living crisis will always be more effective, especially when they’re currently top-of-mind. Now, the banks are doing the right thing by warning customers to beware of these scams.
There are many ways hackers use sophisticated techniques to find further information. Therefore, to defend against these attacks, individuals should remain vigilant in scrutinising such offers and the types of emails and phone calls they receive and look out for giveaways such as spelling mistakes and false information. Individuals should also remember never to share personal or financially sensitive information over the internet.”