Common types of scams and how to spot them

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11 April 2019


With companies losing an average of 7% of their annual expenditure to online scams, fighting financial fraud is one of Ebury’s key objectives. Our priority is to safeguard your funds, to ensure your peace of mind.

owever, as fraud is becoming more and more sophisticated, it’s important that we keep you aware of common fraud techniques:

1. Phishing email scams

More than one third of all security incidents start with phishing emails.

Phishing scams are based on communication made via email. These emails will seem to come from an official source like a bank institution, some form of financial authority or even a trusted ‘colleague’.

The aim of the email is to trick you into providing valuable and sensitive data–from bank account details, to work logins.

How they do it:

In order for this to work, scammers create a sense of urgency. A typical message may state that your account has been breached, or extra charges are going to incur on your account for XYZ reasons.

They will try to get you to click on a link in the email. This will redirect you to a page that looks like it belongs to your bank or a regulated financial institution. Here, you’ll be asked to enter secure information, which is then passed straight to scammers who can access your bank account or any other account with secure information.

What you can do:

If you receive an email from your bank or other financial institution, always check the email address. Scammers can rename their email address in the body of the email, but if you click on the ‘sent by’ information, you will be able to see the original email address name. Never click on any link within the email, but go directly to the senders website through your internet browser. Always confirm what you’re reading is real by moving from the channel of communication you received the message from, to official channels of communication—such as company websites. When in doubt, think two-channels.

If it’s an email from a colleague, double check with them either via phone or web chat. Do not email them, as their account could be hacked and scammers can respond to your query. Never call them on the number within the email itself, always verify their telephone number from a trusted source, such as your company directory, or if external, through their company website, avoid clicking any links within the email or opening attachments.

2. SMS Scamming (Smshing)

Smshing (using SMS text messages) is a similar technique to phishing, but uses text messages instead of email.

How do they do it?

An urgent text message is sent to your smartphone displaying a link. The message likely says that it’s from your bank, it may even appear within message threads from your bank, and that you need to access it in order to update your bank information, or other online banking information.

What you can do:

You should always be suspicious of text messages from unknown numbers that contain links, as they direct you to malicious sites trying to steal your valuable data. If you receive a message you think is suspicious, do not click on any links, go directly to the senders website through your internet browser and report the message to Action Fraud. Think two channels.

Do not reply to text messages, and delete it as soon as possible.

3. Overpayment Online Scam

Overpayment scams target online sellers, and work by getting you to ‘refund’ a scammer who has sent you too much money for an item you are selling.

How does it work?

The idea is that the scammer will contact you either on the platform you are using or by email. They will offer extra money for the item(s) you’re selling to cover ‘shipping costs’ or something similar. The scammer will then ask for the ‘extra’ money to be refunded back, which when you lose money. As they haven’t sent you money in the first place, you are effectively giving your money away.

How do they do it?

The scammer will likely ask to pay via check, credit card, gift cards or money order and will avoid other payment methods. These types of payments are delayed, so you wouldn’t be aware of a scam until it was too late.

What you can do:

If you notice a suspicious email coming from an untrusted source or something out of the ordinary, you should report it as soon as possible.

Do not transfer extra money to someone you don’t know, especially if he/she wants to overpay. A legitimate buyer wouldn’t want to do that.

Do not send the product to the buyer until the payment was completed and received in your bank account.

These are just a few examples of fraudulent activity that can hurt both your business and your personal finances. By staying alert and identifying common signs of fraud, you can stay one step ahead of the scammers.

If you have any questions relating to this article, contact

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