It is widely known, and you have probably already seen evidence in your day to day work, that fraudsters are currently targeting customers of various financial services and banking organisations on a worldwide basis asking for personal information, which is then subsequently used for fraudulent means.
In general, fraudulent letters and emails will request that the client complete an official-looking declaration requesting details of their account or investment and they are almost always asked for personal information. Once the fraudster has a signature and enough personal detail, they will not hesitate to attempt to withdraw funds from an account, bond or other investment holding.
Many of the victims are completely innocent clients who have been so convinced by the fraud that they have volunteered confidential information about their banking, investment or other accounts, to then discover that these details have been used by the fraudsters to attempt to steal their funds.
Standard Bank Offshore, together with all major financial services companies around the world, already goes to great lengths to preserve the safety and security of clients’ financial information, however, there are steps that you as an advisor can take to further minimise the likelihood of your client’s accounts or any of their investments becoming involved in a fraud attempt.
It is our responsibility to ensure clients recognise criminal activity, so as a guide we suggest that you emphasise the following points to your clients:
• Written correspondence and emails are very easy to forge and look genuine, however, there are some obvious things to look out for to identify a forgery. Typical signs include spelling errors, minor changes to branding and logos and poor grammar.
• If at any time you or your client become in any way suspicious about a request for information you or they should contact the bank or financial institution using a telephone number already held on file not one provided by the potential fraudster.
• Do not respond immediately to requests for account information such as account name and number. Ask yourself should the bank / financial institution already know this type of detail and if you are unsure always delay the response and contact the bank / financial institution to confirm the request is genuine.
• Exercise extreme caution when asked for personal information such as a date of birth or mother’s maiden name. This is the type of information that fraudsters are very keen to obtain as it gives them the opportunity to pass themselves off as the victim when calling the bank or financial institution. Again delay the response and double check.
• Often clients are asked to respond via a fax number. Clients should be advised never to fax back personal information to an unknown fax number, and if they are in any doubt they should telephone the bank or financial institution to confirm that the fax number quoted is genuine.
• They should always retain copies of correspondence and keep a record of any telephone calls they receive.
Finally, if you or your client believes that they have already been an unwitting victim to any type of fraud, it is vital to advise the bank or financial institution immediately and provide as much detail as possible.