Most people would like to think they’re capable of protecting their money. They also rely on their bank to keep their accounts completely secure. Unfortunately, the criminals behind courier scams often use fraudulent means to cash in on our desires and breach the protections that are in place.
What is courier fraud?
Courier fraud involves fraudsters calling victims and convincing them into handing over their bank and credit cards and PIN numbers. for example, . The fraud can also involve couriers turning up at your doorstep, asking you to hand your bank card and/or cash over to them.
A recent poll estimates that approximately 1,700,000 people in the UK alone would fall victim to a courier scam and hand over their bank card if an individual who showed up on their doorstep produced some identification.1
Ronald Noble, founder of RKN Global, urges caution whenever one is asked to give out personal information. The increasing sophistication of fraudsters should lead to great hesitancy in these matters.
A British weekly reported an incident from January 2017 in which a fraudster contacted an elderly lady claiming that he was from the “[f]raud office, and that they had been informed by the bank of a fraudulent transaction.”2 As the call progressed, the victim was passed to another interlocutor who she believed was a police officer, and who asked her to withdraw £5,000 so serial numbers could be checked.3
The victim withdrew the money, was told the notes were fake, and was instructed to give the cash to a courier. This is just one example of how fraudsters work to make money at the expense of innocent people.
Other methods people use to commit courier scams
Some of the elements of courier scams telephone calls include:
– Senior citizens receiving calls from people who claim to be from their bank or the police.
– The fraudster may go on to say that a suspicious payment has been noticed on the victim’s account or card, and action needs to be taken to prevent this issue from occurring again.
– Some fraudsters may alternatively mention that the victim’s card is about to expire and needs replacing.
– Fraudsters may try to convince the victim that they are who they claim to be. They may do this by suggesting that the victim hang up the telephone and ring the police or bank back right away. Unfortunately, the fraudster will not disconnect the call, meaning that when the victim calls the bank or police, he or she will unwittingly continue to speak to the fraudster.4
– Victims may be encouraged to act quickly so they can be protected from any more suspicious payments.
– Victims may then be asked to read out their PIN number, or type it into their telephone’s key pad. 4 The caller may also ask for other personal information, such as the numbers of any other accounts at the bank.
– The caller may send a courier to a victim’s door, claiming they will collect the victim’s bank card in order to help the police with their investigation into the “suspicious activity.”
– Some couriers may even offer a “replacement card.” 4 This is designed to convince victims that the perpetrators of the scam are genuinely from the bank or the police. In some cases, a third-party, legitimate courier who is completely unaware of the scam is used.5
How to protect yourself from courier scams
– Be aware that neither your bank nor the police will ever ask for your PIN number.
– If there has been suspicious activity on your account, the bank or police will never state they wish to collect your card.
– If your bank card is about to expire, please note your bank will send you a new card in the mail.
– The bank and the police will never ask you to withdraw money so they can check the serial numbers.
– The bank and the police will never send a courier to your door.
– If you are called by someone who claims to be from your bank or the police, end the call right away, and do not attempt to call the police or bank on the same number or using the same line.
– If you need to use the same line to make a call, please wait at least 5 minutes before you make any calls to give the line time to disconnect. 6
Once five minutes have passed, you may wish to call a friend or a family member whose voice you would instantly recognize. This action will make it difficult for the fraudster to impersonate someone else.
What to do if you think you’re a victim
If you think you have fallen victim to a courier scam, you should:
– Tell the police immediately, giving them as much evidence as you can.
– Stop communicating with the scammers immediately.
– If you have already handed over cash, tell your bank right away.
– If the scammers know your bank details, tell your bank right away.
– If the fraudster threatens you at any time, tell the police immediately.
RKN Global’s founder, Ronald Noble highlights the fact that fraudsters will go to great lengths to provide their victims with evidence to assure them of their legitimacy. Therefore, extreme caution is called for in any private or financial matters.