This article is part of Kyckr’s new Future of Financial Crime Series, which will feature interviews with leading industry professionals and thought leaders to learn more about the evolution of financial crime and the trends shaping the future.
The following is an interview we recently had with Nathan Grant, Senior Credit Industry Analyst, Credit Card Insider.
How has financial crime evolved over the past 5 years?
There were 516,967 cases of identity theft in total in Q1 2021, compared to 221,537 cases in Q1 2020. While credit card fraud is still a major factor in these numbers, the most common cases were government and benefits fraud, due to the rise in crime surrounding other financial avenues such as stimulus relief checks.
Scammers are using new and old ways to acquire people's financial information, and posing as a legitimate agency over the phone looking to verify personal details in order to get people money they are owed is one of the biggest contributors to the growth in government and benefits fraud. Customers should never provide anyone with information over the phone unless they initiated contact with an organisation itself. If a phone call seems suspicious and one wants to determine legitimacy, contact the organisation directly that the caller claims to be from to verify before giving any further information.
What is the state of financial crime today?
Online shopping has seen an increase over the last few years, and the pandemic has forced an even bigger spike since people were forced to make more purchases from home than ever before. Financial criminals follow these trends and target consumers wherever they're spending money.
The first lines of defense in protecting financial information while shopping online is by verifying that information is being entered on a website that is secure, and by choosing the safest way to pay.
Customers should look for a secure lock symbol in the browser’s address bar and “https” in the url of the merchant website to ensure that the site is securely encrypted. Also, it’s important to be mindful that credit cards are more secure than debit cards when making online purchases, with better federal and issuer protections.
If offered on a website, customers should consider paying with digital wallets such as Apple Pay or Google Pay since both services use tokenisation to add another layer of security to the transaction, no matter what payment method is used.
This ensures that even if a site where a purchase was made has become part of a data breach, no actual financial information will be on the line.
What’s the future of financial crime?
Financial crime is going to continually evolve with the trends in how people are spending their money. As more people shop online, more and more criminals will continue to look for new avenues such as cryptocurrency and social media accounts. Many of the old methods of financial fraud are still being used every day, with credit card fraud, bank fraud, phone and utility scams, and more rounding out the latest data from the FTC.
Customers need to make the right choices with how they shop, where they shop, and with whom they share their information. When paying in person, check for any suspicious hardware on gas pumps or at checkouts to make sure there aren’t any devices like skimmers to steal card information. Even simple things, like avoiding making transactions over public wifi networks, could be the barrier between a customer's financial details and a criminal looking to exploit them.