Phishing e-mail fraud is an ever increasing problem and this is what you need to know so you can deal with it.

BACKGROUND

I received an e-mail purporting to be from PayPal asking me to update my card details that were registered on my PayPal account. I didn’t think too much of as I never use my PayPal account and the card details were probably obsolete. The e-mail and link to what appeared to be a genuine PayPal site appeared to be genuine.

phishing-e-mail-fraud-what-you-need-to-know

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT

HSBC texted me at 10.10pm on Christmas Eve when I was on holiday in Spain to say that I needed to pay money in to my account to avoid going overdrawn. Over £2,100 was taken via dozens of small transactions in Malaysian Ringgits. I rang HSBC fraud in India and my card was cancelled with the fraudulent transactions reversed and that was that, or so I thought.

I checked my account balance a few days later on my phone in Spain, only to find another £720 had been taken from my account with dozens of the same transactions dated 27th December.

FRAUD INVESTIGATIONS

I rang HSBC fraud in India who insisted that all of the money I was owed had been repaid to me. The Fraud and Investigations Team and 3 staff members couldn’t find the ‘Display More Transactions’ button on their screens that would enable them to see that only a partial refund had been made. I was told that I would have to visit my branch on my return to the UK to resolve it.

I was returning to the UK that day and I went in to my local branch at 9am on the Saturday morning to speak to the Branch Manager. Even she had difficulty getting traction on this with the staff in India who are the only ones who can resolve these matters. It took 45 minutes to resolve it and after being asked a series of questions towards the end, it transpired that the transactions had been authorised with a password given by me. It was at that point it dawned on me that I had fallen victim to what is probably one of the oldest scams in the world now (albeit one that didn’t look at all suspicious).

SERVICE FAILURE

This is what is referred to as a service failure.

I was offered £50 as a goodwill gesture to compensate me for the inconvenience and stress. I was happy with that as it was partly my fault in falling for it in the first place. Nevertheless, it’s worrying to think that I could have been away on holiday for much longer and out of pocket with nobody to assist me until I returned to the UK.

In all fairness to HSBC, they will always try and do the right thing but invariably it’s too little, too late. This is a Bank that is literally too big to fail that treats colossal fines like parking tickets.

NEVER RESPOND TO PHISHING EMAILS / TEXTS

The moral of the story here is to never respond to e-mails asking for your card details. Do not click on links because malware may end up being installed on your phone to access your personal details.

Go direct to the official website.

Forward the email to report@phishing.gov.uk who will act on it. 

You can forward suspicious texts to 7726 free of charge. This enables your phone network provider to investigate the origin of the text and take action.

I have also written about Facebook fraud, Amazon fraud, SIM phone card scams and other types of fraud.

Have you been caught out by phishing e-mail fraud?

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