Criminals ahead of victims on e-fraud, says FSA

Criminals are using computers to commit increasingly sophisticated frauds, and consumers are failing to keep up to date with the threats out there.

Criminals are using computers to commit increasingly sophisticated frauds, and consumers are failing to keep up to date with the threats out there.

According to the Financial Risk Outlook (2009), published by the Financial Service Authority (FSA), consumer awareness of the methods used by fraudsters to steal money is poor.

The FSA said the frauds being committed often require more detailed information about victims, which is being farmed through technology. "Developments in the criminal use of technology allow easier and faster access to valuable personal data, providing an increased opportunity for committing e-crime," said the report.

Payments industry association Apacs reports that the number of phishing attacks, where e-mails which try to persuade unsuspecting victims to provide confidential bank information and personal details. and money mule advertisements, where fraudsters looking to recruit someone to transfer money from one country to another on their behalf, both continue to rise.

Apacs said the number of phishing websites set up in the first half of 2008 increased by 180% and thenumber of money mule advertisements rose by 33% on the previous year.

"However, consumer awareness of financial crime risks and how individuals may be targeted by criminals does not appear to have kept pace with the change in criminal use of technology," said the FSA report.

A spokesperson at Apacs said increasing the awareness of these crimes is the responsibility of banks, consumers, retailers and the government, as well as the police.

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