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Think Before You Click

Think Before You Click

  • Mónica Souto • Chief Risk Officer of FNBM

It is usually said the one constant is change, and the fraud landscape proves it to be true nearly every day. The cat-and-mouse game between criminals and banks is one of continuous evolution. Security teams deploy new technologies to prevent fraud, and soon after the fraudsters find new ways to carry out their schemes. Fraud continues to become more digitally oriented—and more targeted

With the African continent being one of the most affected, this is undoubtedly a worldwide concern on the rise.

According to the 2020 edition of the Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), based on responses from more than 5,000 business leaders from 99 countries, one in two companies (47%) has been exposed to fraud and financial crime in the past two years. That’s the second highest proportion in the past 20 years – second only to 2018, when 49% responded the same. In addition, the study shows that financial crime is becoming more and more widespread, with cybercrime and customer fraud as the two most destructive and disruptive forms of financial crime globally. By 2020, 35% said they had seen an increase in customer fraud cases, representing a 6 percentage point increase (up from 29% in 2018).

One of the biggest risk to consumers currently is the scams of ‘Card Not Present’, or online transaction fraud, where fraudsters gain illegitimate access to customers’ card details by stealing bank details from online shopping websites, where the details of thousands of cards are stored.

The shift to EMV strengthened the security picture at the point of sale but made card-not-present transactions a nearly irresistible fallback for criminals. The result? “Online fraud has gone up”. After first authenticating themselves and getting access to those details, fraudsters are able to buy large quantities of goods from other fraudulent merchants, defrauding customers of massive amounts of money.

But if you think that only private customers face dangers, you are wrong. We have witnessed a growth in the occurrence of fraud in the business world, with BEC (Business Email Compromise) being the most widely known form of fraud, meaning that customers’ emails are intercepted by fraudsters posing as employees of the company in question, who carry out subsequent communications to lure unsuspecting customers into transferring money into the bank accounts they have sent. This is currently a significant trend globally.

Looking further into Africa, the number of frauds grows exponentially with a large number of incidents related to identity theft by social engineering, which occurs due to the low literacy levels of the consumer base, who often ask strangers for help.

This trend was accentuated with the pandemic, during which we saw an unprecedented increase in online shopping and, from there, a growth in fraud incidents related to this way of shopping.

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In the case of FNBM, as in other banks, awareness campaigns have been carried out, alerting customers to the risks they may face if their credentials are compromised, or by asking strangers for help when using ATMs. We have also raised awareness among our Customers about the precautions to take when opening e-mails from unknown sources or/and with attachments and we have recently implemented the additional security step 3D Secure in our Online transactions, providing our Customers with another level of defence against fraudulent use of their cards.

In summary, we have made a continuous effort to monitor transactions to better control and optimise our ability to detect episodes of fraud and we collaborate with the financial industry and other global partners to ensure the best protection for our customers.

These actions are increasingly relevant in an era of exposure to new and severe dangers brought about by an increasingly interconnected world, where banks can and must protect their assets by applying preventative controls where possible, and also by sharing the incidents they face among themselves, so that information protects the banking industry as a whole. Partnerships with various stakeholders, such as Telco payment gateways (VISA, Mastercard, Etc) take on a prominent role, to minimise risk exposure, and ultimately transfer some of that risk to insurance companies, with a view to proper recovery in the event of hard-to-prevent losses.

At the end of the day, some essential advice that you should not forget: be careful in online transactions, always select websites with Secure Checkout (3D Secure), do not accept assistance from strangers while using the ATM, always confirm payment orders made via e-mail, do not open attachments from unknown or suspicious senders, keep your credentials safe and choose stronger PINs and Passwords and, finally, always think carefully before clicking!


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