European Banks and Police Warn Consumers of Cyber Scams

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Europol and the European Banking Federation have launched a new campaign designed to raise public awareness of growing incidents of financial fraud and data theft, as part of European Cyber Security Month (ECMS).

Over the coming week, law enforcers from 28 EU member states as well as Colombia, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Ukraine will be joining forces with 24 national banking associations and others to warn consumers not to fall for cyber scams.

The campaign will focus on the seven most common online financial scams: CEO fraud, invoice fraud, phishing and its variants, spoofed bank websites, romance scams, personal data theft via social media, and investment and online shopping scams.

Most of these use social engineering techniques to trick the victim into handing over their personal and financial details, or paying or transferring funds to a malicious third party.

A dedicated site explains the tell-tale signs of such scams, and what consumers can do to stay safe.

Many fall under what’s known as authorized push payment (APP) fraud: where the scammer tricks their victim into making payments to an account controlled by them.

According to the UK’s Payment System Regulator (PSR) there were 43,875 reported cases of APP scams last year, and 88% of victims were consumers who lost an average of £2784.

However, it’s a contentious area as many financial institutions will not reimburse their consumers for this kind of fraud — even though few have measures in place to spot and block this kind of fraud.

The UK regulator is working on an industry code of practice, which should clarify matters, as well as initiative such as stricter checks on the identity of those opening bank accounts; confirmation of payee, so that consumers will have to verify that they are paying the person they want; and improved data sharing so banks can respond more quickly to scams.

Banking lobby group UK Finance controversially argued last week that a new levy on each payment made in the country could help provide funds to compensate victims of APP fraud.

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