Phishing and help desk fraud cost society 22.6 million euros

In the first six months of 2021, the total financial damage caused by phishing and bank help desk fraud amounted to 22.6 million euros. As a result, the damage caused by fraud and fraud in the payment system is rising to a “worrying high level”. For this reason, banks want to speed up the process of developing an integrated approach with the government and other parties to tackle digital fraud.

Online scams cost banks tens of millions of euros

Phishing is a way in which hackers and cybercriminals try to steal personal information, bank details or other data. This often takes place in the form of an e-mail, but today it is increasingly taking place via other channels, such as SMS or WhatsApp. The total damage caused by phishing rose to 6.1 million euros in the first half of this year.

Bank help desk fraud is a common variant of help desk fraud. A scammer then poses as a bank employee and says, for example, that your bank account has been hacked, or that ‘suspicious payment transactions’ have taken place. Its goal is to gain access to your computer to steal sensitive information like passwords or PINs. Cybercriminals managed to earn 16.5 million euros in the first six months of 2021 in this way.

Decrease in traditional forms of fraud

The total damage caused by phishing and bank help desk fraud in the first half of 2021 thus came to 22.6 million. By way of comparison: in the whole of 2020, the financial damage caused by these forms of digital scams amounted to 39.5 million euros. In the case of phishing, 98 per cent of the damage amount was reimbursed by banks. In the case of bank help desk fraud, banks reimbursed 92 per cent of the damage. The high reimbursement rates are the result of mutual agreements between the government and banks to apply a joint leniency policy for victims of non-bank fraud.

The other side of the coin is that traditional forms of fraud (with a stolen debit or credit cards) have declined considerably. The amount of damage caused by credit card fraud was halved to more than one million euros. Damage caused by stolen bank cards fell by 68 per cent to 940,000 euros.

Visible and invisible security measures

The NVB and the Dutch Payments Association call digital crime a “broad social problem”. Only by working closely with public and private parties can a stand be made against these forms of crime. Banks, the national government, regulators, police, the Public Prosecution Service, social media, technology companies, internet service providers, telecom companies and trading platforms must join forces. “Further delay means more damage to victims and greater profits for criminals,” the organizations say.

Until all parties involved have formulated a joint approach, it is up to financial institutions and citizens not to fall victim to digital scams. At the end of last year, online bank Knab took extra security measures to protect customers against cybercriminals. For example, payment orders can no longer be confirmed via the card reader, but only via the app. In addition, the payment limit has been adjusted downwards and not all transfers can be treated as Instant Payment. ING increased the waiting time to activate a higher payment limit to four hours.

The NVB and the Dutch Payments Association are pleased that individual parties are taking responsibility for combating online fraud. As examples, they cite the IBAN name check, the ability to set payment limits, two-factor authentication and the Cross-over payment service from Marktplaats. In addition, according to the organizations, there are many invisible mechanisms and fraud detection systems that protect consumers against fraud and scams.

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