FFA boss Katy Worobec: There is no silver bullet to tackling fraud

FFA boss Katy Worobec: There is no silver bullet to tackling fraud

Financial Fraud Action UK director, Katy Worobec, talks to loveMONEY about the UK's fraud problem and what we can do to help fight back against scammers.

Reena Sewraz

Rights, Scams and Politics

Reena Sewraz
Updated on 29 October 2016

Financial fraud is a big problem in the UK. In the last year alone, £775 million was lost to scammers.

It‘s clear that something has to be done, but with fraudsters getting more and more sophisticated it can feel like a losing battle.

A new campaign called Take Five ,led by Financial Fraud Action (FFA) UK is calling on people to adopt a simple mantra to fight back; stop and think.

We caught up with Katy Worobec, head of the FFA, to find out where we are going wrong when it comes to fraud and what financial institutions are doing to protect us.

Fraud trends

Q. What fraud trends should we be aware of?

Behind the recent rise in financial fraud is the growth of impersonation and deception scams. As bank security systems become ever more sophisticated, fraudsters are increasingly targeting individuals and businesses directly through scam phone calls, texts and emails.

In these scams, criminals approach people purporting to be from a legitimate organisation such as a bank, the police, a utility company or a government department.

They then attempt to trick their victim into giving away their personal or financial information, such as passwords or passcodes, or into transferring money directly to the fraudster.

The fraudster often claims there has been suspicious activity on the victim’s account or their account details need to be updated or verified, to encourage people to act quickly without thinking.

That’s why we’ve launched Take Five – a national awareness campaign to combat financial fraud. We are asking people to take five – to take that moment – to pause and think before they respond to any financial requests and share any personal or financial details.

Keeping safe

Q: What can people do to keep safe from fraud?

Follow our five top tips, and pass them on to your friends and family too, so that everyone can stay safe from fraud:

  • Never disclose security details, such as your PIN or full password – it’s never right to reveal these details
  • Don’t assume an email request or caller is genuine – people aren’t always who they say they are
  • Don’t be rushed – a bank or genuine organisation won’t mind waiting to give you time to stop and think
  • Listen to your instincts – if something feels wrong then it is usually right to pause and question it
  • Stay in control – have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for information.

Check your credit report for signs of fraud. Compare deals with Experian, Equifax and more

Common mistakes

Q: What are the most common mistakes we make with our financial information that make us vulnerable to fraud?

Information is the lifeblood of the financial fraudster – whether it’s your personal information or security details, criminals will use it to commit their crimes.

We all need to become far more protective of our personal details, and much more careful about giving them out. 

Even if you are already wary, it’s easy to forget if you feel flustered, pressurised or rushed, which is what fraudsters will try to do.

So it’s really important that if you ever get a request for your information, whether it’s a call, text or an email, take a moment to stop and think, and take back control of the situation.

Contactless fraud

Q: Our readers are particularly concerned about contactless card fraud. Do you have any tips on how to stay safe?

Contactless cards are safe and highly secure, built on the same system as Chip & PIN so you can be fully confident when paying.

Every contactless card includes a range of robust security features which safeguard your information and protect you against fraud. 

This includes an in-built check which means from time-to-time you have to enter your PIN to verify that you are the genuine cardholder.

Contactless cards must be just a few centimetres from a card machine to work, so you have to be extremely close to someone to make a payment. 

Despite the scare stories, there’s never been a verified real-world case of a card details or money being stolen from a contactless card by a fraudster. 

In fact, the level of fraud on contactless cards declined in the first six months of this year and at 3.1p in every £100 spent, remains lower than overall card fraud.

To make sure that you pay with the right card, we always recommend taking the card you want to pay with out of your purse or wallet and touching it against the card reader.

Protection from banks

What are banks doing to protect customers from fraud? Can they do more?

Banks take fraud extremely seriously and uses advanced security systems which stopped £6 in every £10 of attempted fraud in the first half of the year.

The industry also sponsors a police unit which investigates and brings fraudsters to justice, with combined prison sentences last year of more than 100 years.

The industry is also working with the Government and law enforcement as part of the Joint Fraud Taskforce, so that collectively we can tackle fraud more effectively.

Banks are also arming consumers with the information they need to help them stay safe, joining together to launch Take Five, FFA UK’s largest ever fraud awareness campaign.

However, the industry is never complacent, and banks continuously invest in new technology and systems to protect their customers. 

Password safety

Q: How can people make their passwords stronger and safer?

We all use passwords every day, whether it’s for shopping websites, email accounts, utility providers or your online banking, so it’s important to make sure they are strong and secure.

Choose a combination of random words, and use numbers, special characters and upper and lower case letters to build a strong password. Use a different password for each account: it sounds annoying but if you only have one password then a fraudster only has to crack one to access all your accounts.

Don’t reveal your passwords to anyone – your bank or the police will never ask you for your full password, only a fraudster would do so. 


Q. What help is there for people that fall victim to financial fraud?

If you think you’ve been the victim of fraud, then you should contact your bank or card company straight away to report it. Banks will do all they can to recover stolen funds.

It’s also important to contact Action Fraud, the police’s central reporting point for fraud, to help tackle the perpetrators of these crimes.

Fraud fighting technology

Q. Do you think biometric security is the solution to stop fraud? When will banks have this in place?

Banks are already investing in, and introducing, biometric security system such as voice analysis. Each bank will employ the most appropriate systems to keep their customers safe and secure.

However, there is no silver bullet to tackling fraud, so it still remains vital that people are alert to the dangers posed by the scammers and be extremely wary of any unsolicited calls, texts or emails asking for your personal or financial details.

Check your credit report for signs of fraud. Compare deals with Experian, Equifax and more

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