While I’d like to say that the Christmas period is a time of joy and an opportunity to sing along to Mariah Carey, unfortunately that’s not the case for everyone.

    Over the festive period there is a higher likelihood that someone you know will be de-frauded.

    With fewer staff in the office and a rush to get work finished so that you can log off and enjoy a glass of mulled wine (or two) fraudsters know that this time of year is their opportunity to strike.

    Action Fraud has highlighted that it has seen an increase in fraud over the festive period in previous years.

    In the last 12 months there’s been a 21% increase in identity fraud in the UK based on research released last month from Experian. Its predicted that this is going to continue to rise with a peak over the Christmas shopping period.

    We also know that there’s typically an increase in fraud in times of economic uncertainty. As the UK economy is currently in the midst of a recession and with an expected downturn looming in the New Year there may be a higher number of people resorting to commit fraud. Along with customers taking more risks at Christmas time to make their money go further, it’s a recipe for disaster.

    Breaking the scam journey

    159 is a memorable short-code phone service that connects the vast majority of UK banking customers safely and securely with their bank when they receive an unexpected or suspicious call about a financial matter.

    This breaks the scam ‘journey’ at the critical moment when you are at most risk of being manipulated into making a payment. So, even if scammers can make contact with you, that link will be broken by your call to 159, before any information is shared, any payment is made, and any harm is done.

    159 works in the same way as 101 for the police or 111 for the NHS. It’s the number your clients can trust to get them through to their bank, every time.

    In addition, clients can also report a text message they think is a scam by forwarding it to 7726 - their provider can investigate the origin of the text and arrange to block or ban the sender, if it’s found to be malicious. Find out more here.

    It's in our power to keep clients’ money safe

    To ensure your clients are safe it's vital to ensure your own accounts and systems are secure too, as it’s not just clients that can be hacked. An adviser firm with poor security controls would be an enticing opportunity for any hacker. Why hack an individual when you can access the account of an adviser with many clients?

    In addition to securing your own accounts it's imperative to have appropriate controls in place to protect your clients' accounts. Here are some aditional tips:

    • Make sure your clients know how to get in touch with you in a secure way if their emails have been hacked
    • If a client has changed their email or phone number, consider contacting them through a secondary method to confirm that the change in communication method was genuine
    • Beware of any sudden changes in behaviour or unusual requests from clients. Even if it’s a genuine request from the client they may have been forced or manipulated into accessing their money.
    • When making a change to clients' accounts such as a change of bank details, it’s important to speak to the client directly rather than relying on an email that could have been compromised.
    • Use strong passwords as it’s not just clients that can be hacked.

    If you do think that you or your client has been a victim of fraud, please get in touch with us as soon as you can and we’ll be here to help secure any affected accounts.

    And finally, happy holidays!


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