Category: Fight Back

New Banking Code on Fraud

A new code of conduct has been created but it is not binding in law yet, so really it’s just a set of guidelines.

This has been created by the Payment Systems Regulator after Which? raised a super-complaint about the banks treatment of people defrauded in push payment scams. These are the scams where the victim transfers money to a scammer from their bank account. The banks consider these to be largely the victim’s own fault and hence not their responsibility. But many disagree and believe the banks should identify and stop these payments where possible and make it more difficult for scammers to get away with these frauds.

The issue of who pays compensation and under what circumstances has not been resolved – when should the banks compensate the victims of push payment fraud?

Figures from trade association UK Finance show that in the first half of 2018 consumers lost £92.9 million because of this type of fraud.

The guidelines propose the principle that where the victim of such a crime has met their requisite level of care, they should be reimbursed.

The draft code has been published by the APP Scams Steering Group, made up of industry and consumer group representatives. It has been open for consultation.

It said there may be instances where a victim of this type of fraud has met their requisite level of care, and so should be reimbursed, but no bank or other payment service provider involved has breached their own level of care.

It will work to identify “a sustainable funding mechanism” through which to reimburse consumers in such a scenario.

Under the draft code, banks and other payment service providers would take measures to tackle APP scams, such as:

  • Detecting APP scams through measures such as analytics and employee training;
  • Preventing APP scams from taking place by taking steps to provide customers with effective warnings that they are at risk;
  • Responding to APP scams, for instance, by delaying a payment while an investigation is conducted and, if necessary, carrying out timely reimbursement.

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UK Cyber Force

The UK government announced the creation of a £250m cyber-force unit that will combat terrorist groups and domestic gangs.

The government is planning it to be an offensive cyber warfare unit in a bid to meet the online threat posed by Russia, North Korea, Iran and other countries active in cyber-attacks.

Experts will be recruited from the military, security services and industry for the project which will be set up by the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ.

In July 2019, a parliamentary committee warned that ministers are failing to get to grip with the shortage in cyber security experts despite the “potentially severe implications” for national security.

MPs and peers said the situation is of “serious concern”, but the Government response lacks “urgency”.

They warned that the WannaCry attack in May 2017, which hit the NHS, showed the need to protect critical national infrastructure  from cyber threats.

In July, a Government spokeswoman said: “We have a £1.9 billion National Cyber Security Strategy, opened the world-leading National Cyber Security Centre and continue to build on our cyber security knowledge, skills and capability.”

For obvious reasons, the UK’s cyber-attack capabilities are a secret, but are widely regarded to be very active.

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Fakespot Identifies Fake Reviews

The website at was created to “Bring trust back to the Internet” say the owners.

Fakespot is a data analytics company that wants to change the way people read reviews and similar content.

They believe that authentic user reviews are just about the best thing to come out of the Internet. However, the user review system is often abused by sellers that pay for reviews, by companies trying to make their competition look bad, and technologies that pretend to be real reviewers.

How to Use Fakespot

Fakespot can scan all of the reviews for any product or service you select on Yelp™ or Amazon™, Trip Advisor and Apple APP store and tell you whether the reviews are generally reliable or generally unreliable through the letter grade system.

With so many online shopping options, a strong or weak product review can have a huge impact on whether or not a purchase is made. The credibility of these reviews is undermined by businesses who leave fake reviews for themselves or for their competitors – or by individuals with an undisclosed bias.

Fakespot does not review products so cannot tell you how good a product is, it simply analyses the existing reviews looking for patterns that indicate authenticity or otherwise.

Fakespot uses various techniques to evaluate the authenticity of reviews, including:-.

  • English language pattern recognition
  • The profile of the reviewer
  • Correlation with other reviewer data

The algorithm uses machine learning to constantly improve itself by looking at profile clusters, sentiment analysis and cluster correlation. We use artificial intelligence that has been trained to pick up on patterns. The more data that flows into the system, the better the system gets at the detecting fakes.

Amazon unverified reviews are considered unreliable by Fakespot because when the system associates a product review with a product purchase, that review is from a “verified purchaser”. These reviews are in most cases reliable, since Amazon has already confirmed an actual purchase of the product being reviewed.

But, if an Amazon review is not from a ‘verified purchaser’ there is no way of knowing for sure if the reviewer even used the product. While it is possible that a reviewer could have purchased the product elsewhere and left a review on Amazon at a later date, without purchase verification, it is impossible to tell.

Also, Fakespot systems have shown that most paid reviews come from unverified purchasers.

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TalkTalk Callsafe

Most phone service providers offer facilities to help their users block unwanted callers. The recent addition by TalkTalk is called Callsafe.

“At last, just the calls you really want”. “Wouldn’t it be nice to pick up your home phone, always knowing it’s a call you really want? No nuisance callers, no sales pitches, no scammers. We’re helping every customer get just that. All you have to do is switch on your free CallSafe”.

It works in a fairly standard manner. You create an approved list of phone numbers and those get straight through to you. Then a list of numbers to be blocked.

CallSafe automatically creates an Approved list from your regularly dialled numbers – like friends and family – and they’ll get straight through to you. You can also manage who’s on this list at any time, online or by calling 1472.

You can also keep a list of numbers you’ve chosen to block – plus CallSafe has a national database of known unwanted callers. If any of these numbers call, your phone won’t even ring.

If a number isn’t on your Approved or Blocked list, the caller will be asked to identify themselves in a short message. Your phone then rings, you hear their message and choose whether to take the call.

How Does CallSafe Work?

Every time you get a call, CallSafe will automatically check the number to make sure it’s someone you want to hear from. Regularly dialed numbers like friends and family, will be put straight through. For any new callers, CallSafe will:

  1. Check to see if the number is on a list of unwanted callers. If so, it’s automatically blocked and your home phone never rings.
  2. Manage any other callers with an extra step. It will ask the caller to record a short introduction before your phone rings. You’ll hear this message when you pick up your home phone and have the choice to either answer, ignore, or block the call.

CallSafe needs no extra kit, you dial 1472 to turn it on and leave the rest to them. If you want, you can view and manage your approved and blocked callers through My Account or by calling 1472. Or you can let CallSafe manage it.

Tristia Harrison, TalkTalk’s CEO, said:

“We’re tackling the industry-wide issue of unwanted calls head on. Protecting our customers is incredibly important to us and we’re committed to eliminating the disruption caused by unwanted callers. It would be a real shame if landlines became obsolete just because we are too afraid to pick them up.

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The International Fact Checking Network

There is a major problem across the world with ‘fake news’, especially on the Internet.

The Poynter Institute is a global leader in journalism, claiming to be the world’s leading instructor, innovator, convener and resource for anyone who aspires to engage and inform citizens in 21st Century democracies.

Poynter created The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at Poynter, committed to promoting excellence in fact-checking.

They say that they believe nonpartisan and transparent fact-checking can be a powerful instrument of accountability journalism; conversely, unsourced or biased fact-checking can increase distrust in the media and experts while polluting public understanding.

The Poynter Institute have also created a set of principles for organisations that publish and claim to be non partisan.

  • A COMMITMENT TO NONPARTISANSHIP AND FAIRNESS We fact-check claims using the same standard for every fact check. We follow the same process for every fact check and let the evidence dictate our conclusions. We do not advocate or take policy positions on the issues we fact-check.
  • A COMMITMENT TO TRANSPARENCY OF SOURCES We want our readers to be able to verify our findings themselves. We provide all sources in enough detail that readers can replicate our work, except in cases where a source’s personal security could be compromised. In such cases, we provide as much detail as possible.
  • A COMMITMENT TO TRANSPARENCY OF FUNDING & ORGANIZATION We are transparent about our funding sources. If we accept funding from other organizations, we ensure that funders have no influence over the conclusions we reach in our reports. We detail the professional background of all key figures in our organization and explain our organizational structure and legal status. We clearly indicate a way for readers to communicate with us.
  • A COMMITMENT TO TRANSPARENCY OF METHODOLOGY We explain the methodology we use to select, research, write, edit, publish and correct our fact checks. We encourage readers to send us claims to fact-check and are transparent on why and how we fact-check.
  • A COMMITMENT TO OPEN AND HONEST CORRECTIONS We publish our corrections policy and follow it scrupulously. We correct clearly and transparently in line with our corrections policy, seeking so far as possible to ensure that readers see the corrected version.

The International Fact-Checking Network:

  • Monitors trends, formats and policy-making about fact-checking worldwide, publishing regular articles in the section below and in a weekly newsletter
  • Helps surface common positions among the world’s fact-checkers.
  • Promotes basic standards through the fact-checkers’ code of principles and projects to track the impact of fact-checking.
  • Funds annual fellowships, an innovation grant and a crowdfunding match program.
  • Convenes fact-checkers in a yearly conference (Global Fact) and promotes collaborative efforts in international fact-checking.
  • Provides training in person and online.
  • Advocates for more fact-checking, including through an annual International Fact-Checking Day.

I think we’re a long way from ever getting rid of fake news but at least this fact checking network should help organisations discern real facts from, fake facts.

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Surrey Police Stop Phone Scammer

Brandon Hurst of Hounslow, posed as a bank fraud investigator and scammed two ladies 88 and 70, out of just under £6,000.

He was caught and has been sentenced to 6 months imprisonment, suspended for two years and has to do community service and pay back nearly £6,000.

He phoned his victims and claimed to be calling from bank fraud investigation departments of Barclays or Santander.

He told them there had been fraudulent activity on their accounts and convinced them to return their bank cards to the bank. He got them to provide their PIN number as well.

To convince them he was calling from the bank he used the stay on the line trick. He told them to check the bank’s fraud number and call it but he stayed on the line and the victims were just talking to him again.

He arranged for a courier to collect the cards and the victims believed the cards would be taken back to the bank but they went to Hurst instead where he could then spend on the cards.

If you get any suspicious callers claiming to be from your bank then use a separate phone to call the bank to check and do not do as requested unless you are totally sure the caller is from your bank. Some scammers may already have some of your information such as the account number so do not be fooled by this.

Let’s hope the prison sentence can teach this man to pursue a life that doesn’t prey on vulnerable people.

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