It’s a startling statistic – 40% of crime is now made up of the gamut of scam calls, texts and emails trying to part us from our money and/or our identity. Almost everyone with a smart phone will have received random messages from a caller about a spurious subscription or a text about a missed direct debit payment. Links may go to genuine looking web pages from a bank or even HMRC asking for personal details. Worse are threatening calls, particularly to the vulnerable, claiming arrest is imminent if a payment isn’t made on a fake tax or overdraft.
Most of us are aware of the range of such scams and regularly block numbers and emails, only to find new ones springing up. Beyond the individual approach, however, are the more far-reaching cybercrimes, such as the data attack on a third-party payroll provider for firms such as Boots and the BBC, which syphoned off personal details, national insurance numbers and bank details.
In an atmosphere where data is as valuable a commodity as money itself, the government is looking to a new strategy to help protect the public and businesses. Cold calling on financial products will be banned and measures to prevent the spoofing of numbers from legitimate businesses will be brought in. A new National Fraud Office will pursue fraudsters and help the police prioritise investigations.
It’s not all up to the government of course. Banks and financial firms have been issuing warnings that they will never contact clients asking for financial or log in details. Emails claiming to be from government sites should always be at ‘gov.uk’ addresses – if you have any suspicions, don’t click on links or follow through.
During a time of continuing financial hardship for many, it’s tempting to see an advertisement offering help to claim unused tax credits as a potential lifeline. Sadly, preying on such instincts is the bread and butter of the burgeoning fraud landscape. Protecting business data by regularly reviewing online security, setting up two-step authentication and ensuring that any third-party providers are using the most up to date security are all key tools ensuring you don’t contribute to the scam economy.
We focus on this issue in our latest newsletter, but also look at how companies can mitigate higher corporation tax bills using directors’ pension contributions, the changing relationship between tenants and landlords coming from the Renters (Reform) Bill and the importance of understanding the reach of HMRC data collection in investigations.
Find out more about these and other stories in our July/August newsletter.