Fresh fraud worries as crooks target bank accounts and lonely hearts

There were twice as many fraudulent current account applications in 2015 compared to the previous year

Simon Read
Personal Finance Editor
Wednesday 10 February 2016 10:15 GMT
Crooks hide behind bogus identities on dating sites to trick people out of money
Crooks hide behind bogus identities on dating sites to trick people out of money (YouTube)

Crooked current account applications more than doubled in a year, reckons Experian. Its figures show that by the end of last year, 156 applications in every 10,000 were fraudulent, up from 73 at the start of 2015.

The fraud is doubly dangerous as it not only threatens having a large overdraft run up in your name, but can act as a gateway to other fraudulent debt as crooks often open other financial products such as loans or credit cards.

“Companies and consumers must remain vigilant to the evolving tactics of fraudsters which become more sophisticated with each passing day,” said Experian’s Nick Mothershaw.

Meawhile online dating websites can be a godsend for fraudsters. They use simple tactics to trick lonely hearts out of their savings.

Which? warns that two in five using a dating site or app have been asked for money, with one in seven admitting to sending cash to someone who asked for it. “People must be vigilant when using dating sites or apps,” advised Alex Neill of Which?

What can people do to prevent being victims of ID fraud?

  1. Always shred or destroy documents that contain personal information before throwing them away.
  1. Never respond to cold phone calls or e-mails asking for account details, PINs, passwords or personal information.
  1. Don’t give too much away on networking websites. For example, pets’ names or children’s names could be used as passwords.
  1. Register to vote at your current address. If you don’t, thieves could use your previous address details to open new credit accounts, and run up debts in your name.
  1. Monitor your post regularly so you know when to expect important documents — and when to act if they don’t arrive.
  1. Redirect your mail via the Post Office if you move house.
  1. Always use secure, unique passwords for as many online accounts as possible, and ideally all of them. At the very least have a unique password for each type of service provider such as financial services, retail services and email.
  1. Don’t store account names and passwords on your smartphone, either in email, as a note, or to ‘autocomplete’ when you open a website or app.  It will be a goldmine for fraudsters if your device is lost or stolen.
  1. Read all bank and card statements regularly to check for suspicious transactions.
  1. Check your credit report, because it lists your credit accounts and what you owe, so you can spot applications and spending that are nothing to do with you.

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