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‘Desperate’ first-time buyers targeted by scammers

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Written by: Tim Chen
20/03/2018
Fraudsters are developing new tactics to target first-time buyers’ (FTBs) deposits and consumer cash, according to NatWest.

The NatWest Digital Safety 2018 report pointed to the vulnerability of FTBs “desperate” to own their first home as house prices start to fall this year.

For instance, a hacker could monitor emails sent by a solicitor, impersonate them, and tell buyers that their bank details have changed.

The report also expected financial fraudsters to personalise their tactics by monitoring profiles on social media – for instance by seeing a post saying someone had moved to a new home or are about to buy a property.

“People can be very liberal with posting information on social media and might not realise how much they’re giving away,”  the report stated.

“But to a fraudster the posts can be very helpful in setting up a scam.”

On a related note, scammers are also expected to try installing malicious software on smartphones to spy on would-be victims.

More so, the report cautioned consumers to be especially vigilant as the Brexit process may be used to push bogus investments.

A fraudster might, for example, contact customers saying that Brexit will empty their savings, and offer to move their deposits to ‘safe’ investment products to protect them from the divorce shock.

Scam proof

To navigate such potential frauds and scams, NatWest has urged consumers to be vigilant with their information, and warned that just because someone knows basic personal details such as names and addresses, it doesn’t equate to a genuine request.

It added that a bank or organisation will never ask for passwords or PINs over the phone.

The report also warned that customers should never allow remote access when asked to do so on a cold call, what they disclose on their social media, and update the security protocols on their mobile devices.

Julie McArdle, NatWest security manager, said: “Financial fraud is now the most common crime in the UK, and we want to help our customers understand the different types of scams that might emerge in 2018 and how they can best protect themselves.

“Scammers are dogged in their attempts to get their hands on people’s money and are always looking for new ways to get ahead.

“This means banks and customers need to evolve alongside scammers too. By being aware and staying ahead of scammers, we can stop them winning and keep the country’s money safe and secure.”

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