How to avoid fraud

Do you know how fraud works? Read our useful guide for information on the different types of fraud, how to spot and report fraud, and other helpful tips.

Here at Lowell, we understand that fraud can be a concern for a lot of people and that you might feel cautious or unsure when to respond to emails and calls that you receive. We know that people may even find themselves in debt after falling victim to fraud.

But you may be wondering, what does fraud mean? To put it simply, fraud is when someone tricks another person for their own benefit, usually for financial reasons. Fraudsters may do this in various ways including phishing, smishing, scam calls, loan scams, and credit card fraud.

To help support you, we’ve created a helpful guide delving into the different fraud methods, what to look out for, and how to avoid fraud. In this guide we’ll cover the following ways fraudsters may work:

  • Phishing
  • Smishing
  • Scam calls
  • Loan scams
  • Credit card fraud

What is a phishing email?

Phishing emails are a type of attack where cybercriminals will send fake emails with the intention of stealing your money or identity. They do this by getting you to reveal sensitive information such as bank details, passwords, or credit card details or by attaching bad links or attachments.

How to spot a phishing email

These sorts of emails are becoming harder to spot, but there are some obvious signs you should always look out for:

  • Lack of personalisation – One of the first things to look for is whether the email is addressed to you or a more generic name such as ‘friend’.
  • Incorrect spelling and bad grammar – Even if the emails include official logos, a legitimate organisation is unlikely to send emails with poor spelling and grammar.
  • Odd email domains – An easy way to see if something is a scam is by checking the email address. For instance, a bank won’t send an email from a random Gmail account.
  • Suspicious links or attachments – Be extremely cautious when it comes to opening attachments or clicking links. Hover over the link to view that is going to the destination you expect the link to take you.
  • Sense of urgency – If the email is asking you to call, click, or open an attachment or link immediately then it’s worth being extra cautious of this.

What is a phishing site?

A phishing website is a domain that looks like an official website. The name and appearance are purposefully designed to trick people into thinking it is legitimate.

Links taking you to a phishing site are likely to appear in fake emails and if clicked may infect your device with malware or steal your data. They also may present a login page asking you to enter in your login credentials. If you think you might have clicked on a phishing link, here are some things to be aware of:

  • Do not enter any personal details including financial information
  • Disconnect from your internet
  • Do a full scan of your device using antivirus software
  • Change your passwords
  • Back up important files somewhere safe

How to prevent phishing

Unfortunately, your inbox won’t always be able to filter out these phishing emails meaning you may still receive some, so it’s important to always be alert. Instead of clicking links or responding with personal details, find the trusted contact details of the company or person they are claiming to be and contact them separately.

If you think you’ve been sent a phishing email from someone claiming to be from Lowell, please get in touch with us.

What is smishing?

In short, smishing is a type of fraud which happens over text or other messaging apps, it’s also sometimes referred to as SMS phishing. It is very similar to phishing and fraudsters will send a message claiming to be from a certain company along with a smishing URL link that could ask you to enter sensitive personal details or download malware onto your phone. 

What are scam calls?

Another way fraudsters might reach out is over the phone pretending to be from a trusted organisation such as your bank or the police.

Not all calls will be from a real person, and some might be automated. During these calls, you may be asked to reveal personal information such as banking details or asked to urgently transfer money.

How to spot scam calls

When receiving a phone call, you might sense something is off, but it can be difficult to determine whether a call is genuine or not.

To help you, here are a few things to bear in mind when answering the phone:

  • Asking for confidential information – A trusted company will not ask for passwords or PIN numbers over the phone, or by email.
  • Being evasive – If the caller keeps changing the subject or making you feel bad for asking for more information.
  • You can’t call them back – Scammers can hide caller IDs or mimic phone numbers to appear genuine so be wary of those who don’t want to end the call or try putting you off by hanging up and calling back using an official number.
  • Using intimidation tactics – Sometimes scammers can become intimidating during a call to try to panic someone into doing what they want and revealing sensitive information.

If you receive a call from Lowell that you don’t believe is us, the best thing to do is hang up and call us directly instead.

What are loan scams?

Loan scams are a type of advance fee fraud as it is when you’re being asked to pay for a loan in advance and then once you’ve paid you never hear back from the company or receive the loan.

What is credit card fraud?

Credit card fraud is a form of identity theft and refers to any kind of theft or fraud involving credit cards. This can include stealing money from existing accounts, cloning credit cards or ‘card skimming’, stealing card details or opening a new credit card in your name without you knowing.

How to prevent fraud

There are things to be aware of that can help prevent fraud:

  • Don’t share personal information such as your PIN or passwords and be conscious of what you are posting on social media such as your date of birth.
  • Create strong passwords and don’t use the same password across multiple sites.
  • Regularly review your bank statements, ideally every few days. If you spot an unknown charge, call your card provider and query it.
  • Check your credit report, at least once a month. Doing so will allow you to see if someone has applied for credit cards using your identity. You can get reports, and flag any problems, with Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
  • Use secure websites – look for the ‘s’ at the end of the “https://” before a site’s URL as this means the site is more secure.
  • Avoid saving card details on websites.
  • Always log out of your account on banking sites.
  • Don’t throw confidential letters in the bin. These should be put in a special confidential bin or shredded.
  • Before making any payments, double-check the details and search the company name to make sure that it’s legitimate.

How to report fraud

In the unfortunate situation that you do need to report any fraud, here are some things you can do:

  1. If you notice something on your credit file or banking statements, contact your credit card provider or bank and explain what’s happened as soon as possible.
  2. You should also notify credit reporting agencies, as this could impact your credit score.
  3. Report it to your local police station and get a crime reference number.
  4. If you’ve lost money, you can contact Action Fraud via their website or call them on 0300 123 2040.
  5. You can also report scams to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on 0800 111 6768 or using their reporting form.
  6. For any lost documents like passports or driving licenses, let the relevant issuing organisations know.

We want to make sure Lowell customers are protected from fraud, so if you do think you’ve been contacted by someone claiming to be Lowell, please let us know straight away on 0333 556 5550 so we can investigate.

Alternatively, if you’ve been contacted by Lowell about a debt that you don’t believe belongs to you, you can read our guide on how to recognise if a debt is yours. For more helpful information on debt and finances, check out the rest of the Lowell blog and our debt guidance hub.

Published by Stephanie North-Shaw on 15th November, 2022

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