Confirmation of Payee

When you make a bank transfer, you provide the name, sort code and account code to send the money to.  You might reasonably expect that the bank pays attention to all three of those pieces of information and if they don’t match then warn you.

However, banks do not do this – they ignore the name and send the money to the sort code and account code regardless of who they belong to.

If you make a mistake and put the wrong sort code or account code then your money is likely to be gone – and that’s your responsibility.

Scammers know this and use various ploys to get people to transfer money to them believing it is their builder or plumber or a friend or official organisation etc.   The name does not need to match the account as no-one checks it.

Under plans from the UK’s payments operator, the name of someone receiving a payment will be as important as their banking details for the first time from mid 2019, in an attempt to combat fraud and the sender will be alerted if the name does not match the account.

This change is designed to combat cases when fraudsters mimic a genuine business and attempt to trick people into sending money to an account controlled by the fraudster.

How Confirmation of Payee Will Work

  1. When setting up a new payment, or amending an existing one, banks will be able to check the name on the account of the person or organisation you are paying.
    1. If you use the correct account name, you will receive confirmation that the details match, and can proceed with the payment
    2. If you use a similar name to the account holder, you will be provided with the actual name of the account holder to check. You can update the details and try again, or contact the intended recipient to check the details
    3. If you enter the wrong name for the account holder you will be told the details do not match and advised to contact the person or organisation you are trying to pay

“This is an important step and we would like to see the banks implement this new protection as quickly as possible, giving everyone greater protection against fraud,” said a spokeswoman for payments watchdog, the Payment Systems Regulator.

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How Comparison Sites Cheat

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) was concerned that comparison web sites were making hotel rooms seem more popular than they actually are.

Expedia, Booking.com,  Hotels.com, ebookers and trivago have been investigated by the CMA over pressure selling and misleading discount claims.

“The CMA has taken enforcement action to bring to an end misleading sales tactics, hidden charges and other practices in the online hotel booking market,” said CMA Chairman Andrew Tyrie.

The CMA will now seek to make the rest of the sector follow the same rules as the six companies it has named.

The companies have all agreed to the following:-

  • To make it clearer how hotels are graded, including whether hotels paying the ranking sites more have received a position higher up the list
  • To not give a false impression of a hotel’s popularity to rush customers into making a booking. For example, when saying that other customers are looking at the same hotel as you, it should be made clear it they are searching for different dates. Some sites were also placing sold-out hotels within search results to put pressure on people to book more quickly. They have now committed not to do this
  • To be clear about discounts and only promoting deals that are actually available at that time. The CMA found sites comparing a higher weekend room rate with a weekday rate or comparing the price of a luxury suite with a standard room
  • To show charges such as taxes, booking or resort fees in the price

The companies have until 1 September 2019 to comply with the demands, otherwise they could be taken to court.

Compare the Market’s so-called most favoured nation contract clauses stopped home insurers from listing better prices elsewhere, in a bid to stop rivals winning home insurance customers.

But the practice also meant that home insurers were more likely to pay higher commission rates to comparison sites, potentially passing on the extra costs to customers.

“Our investigation has provisionally found that Compare the Market has broken the law by preventing home insurers from offering lower prices elsewhere. This could result in people paying higher premiums than they need to” said the CMA.

Well done the regulator. Comparison websites need to be fair and honest with their customers.

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What is Spear Phishing

Phishing is where the scammer tries to obtain sensitive information such as logins,  passwords and payment card details by pretending to be a trustworthy organisation e.g. your bank or local council or a major retailer.

This kind of attack is usually carried out by email or instant messaging and often directs the user to enter confidential information at a fake website, which looks identical to the expected legitimate site.

When phishing is targeted at specific individuals or companies, then it is called “Spear Phishing”.

How Spear Phishing Works

For example. An email arrives, claiming to be from a trustworthy source and the sender knows your full name, job title and department for example. The scammer has done their homework to get this information about you to give the scam a higher chance of success.

A link in the message takes you to a bogus website made to look like the expected website.

The fake website looks legitimate but only exists to take the users confidential information and pass it to the scammer.

These emails often use clever tactics to get victims’ attention. For example, the FBI has warned of spear phishing scams where the emails appeared to be from the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

Cyber criminals employ individually designed approaches and social engineering techniques to effectively personalise messages and websites. As a result, even high-ranking targets within organisations, like top executives, can find themselves opening emails they thought were safe. That slip-up enables cyber criminals to steal the data they need in order to attack their networks.

How to Protect Yourself

Attackers utilize various social engineering techniques that leverage recent events, work-related issues, and other areas of interest pertaining to the intended target.  Don’t publish any private information about yourself.

Training employees to spot misspellings, odd vocabulary, and other indicators of suspicious mails may reduce the chance of people being caught out by these scam attacks.

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