19 May 2022

Opinion from Adrian Leopard & Co

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We must just go through security. How many times have you heard that?
Adrian Leopard 332

We must just go through security. How many times have you heard that?

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Security is supposed to protect you but this is not always the case – you should always be careful about answering security questions

During the pandemic we are told that internet and telephone fraud has increased significantly. Needless to say with people sitting at home, they are as good as sitting ducks.

Unfortunately this type of fraud often catches us unawares and on other occasions the fraudsters are so clever that they can manage to fool you. Everyone who has an e mail account will at times have received spam e mails; many of these will in fact be scams. The trouble is trying to recognise them. Indeed the majority are instantly recognisable because they will be from organisations which you have not dealt with, ergo why would they be contacting you?

The problem arises when you get an e mail which appears to come from an organisation which you do deal with. You may ask what are the chances of that actually happening. If you do not have an account with a particular bank then you know it is a scam but if you have an account with XYZ bank and you get an e mail which appears to come from that bank, then you may fall for it. I have received e mails from my bank which I could not be sure were not scams so I did not respond to them but instead sent them to my bank manager to confirm. But that could be a major job for us. Most of us do not even know who at the bank they could contact. And the trouble is that scammers send out e mails and texts by the thousands on a scattergun approach.

Some of the major culprits in the collapse of banking security are in fact the banks themselves. Who amongst us has not telephoned his bank or credit card company with some query or other? And what is the first thing that happens? You get the “we must take you through security” point; this is frequently automated but can occasionally be verbal. You will have provided to the bank various titbits of information like your date of birth, your address and perhaps other unique information like a pin or secret word. When calling in it is okay to answer the questions – after all you know that you telephoned the right number.

However where this all goes wrong is when the telephone call comes to you from your bank rather than the other way around and this time it is an individual at the other end of the line – “Is that Mr Bloggs?” On answering in the affirmative the voice goes on to say “we must just pass through security again”, even though you already did that in an earlier call.

What is wrong with this, you ask? Well suddenly you are being asked by a stranger to give out your security information, perhaps a pin, a secret word, personal data like your date of birth etc. Now if you spoke to the individual in question earlier in the day and recognise the accent, you may decide it is safe to provide the information requested; the risk is much less. But what if this is a “first contact” call? You are completely exposed and may well be giving the caller just the details they need to access your account.

What do you do? Well the obvious thing to do is to refuse to provide such information. Something like “Well how do I know you are who you say you are?” Banks absolutely hate this and the callers, even genuine ones, can get quite shirty. The irony is that they cannot actually see that there could be any risk. Sometimes they will rather grudgingly offer you the privilege of spending money on your phone bill to call them back on the bank official number!

In my view the only safe information to give over the phone when you are receiving a call is something which is general knowledge – in which case there is little point in asking it at all.

The safest modes of passing security are by the use of bank or credit cards and a code machine but they are not really practicable when it comes to a query over an entry on your credit card account. Unfortunately there is always going to be a risk that your information is being sought by a fraudster but one rule which is hard and fast is NEVER give out a pin number which allows access to an account or use of a card and never give an account number in full on an incoming call.

So always beware of “we must just pass security” – it is fine in the right place but allows a fraudster to garner your personal information in the wrong one.

Finally if you have a mobile phone or personal computer, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ensure that it is pin or password protected. So much harm is done by people accessing these devices and getting straight in because the user has not protected himself.

Adrian Leopard 28-03-21


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Company Data

Adrian Leopard & Company is the trading name of Alderney Offshore Ltd, a company registered in Alderney, Channel Islands number 1220.

Address P O Box 1027, Alderney GY9 3AS

Registered Office Seldomin, Longis Road, Alderney GY9 3YB.

Adrian Leopard & Co is represented in the UK by 3CL (UK) Ltd trading as Adrian Leopard Associates.

Telephone enquiries may be made on 08449-4-08449 or 01684-230360.

E Mail [email protected]

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