The past few years have been extraordinary in many aspects in the banking sector as well due to COVID-19 and recent geopolitical changes in the Europe. In addition, competition situation and changes in customer behaviour have put pressure on banks globally to speedup their digital product offerings and invest more heavily on new innovative, easy-to-use, digital services, especially focusing on the channels that customers prefer today: mobile. Customers expect 24/7 self-service and should there be a need for assistance, that should be available via digital means as well by the time the demand arises.

As the digitalized fraud has become so common, it is important that we in the banking industry too, take all the measures we can, to mitigate the effect it has on the market and customers. The most important goal is to maintain the trust towards the banking sector, being the guard of customer assets in all situations. If one bank fails in this work, it can have a serious impact on all financial sector players. Therefore, if it is vital to further increase the cooperation and information sharing on fraudulent activities both on financial sector, but also between national and cross-national authorities. Big part of the defense actions lay on each individual bank’s side as well. Using artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and multi-layer fraud prevention system will be the technical side musts. But effective use of systems alone is not possible without human resources. Attract and retention of talented anti-financial crime experts will be a key factor in the future for the banks to be able face the new fraud modus operandi.

Fraudsters are following closely what are done in the financial sector in the anti-fraud and security area. Best opportunities for them are in situations when major changes are taking place on a large scale e.g. during launch of Payment services directive 2 (PSD2) or a new service that requires using your personal netbank credentials. Also, the rise of cryptocurrencies have meant that many people want to find a fast track to riches but not all cryptos are ever providing returns on investments, rather take your money and run. Using unawareness and pressure towards customers criminals are using social manipulation to obtain their ultimate goal: money and potentially other data that can be used for criminal purposes later. Raising awareness among employees and customers is a must as well: the strongest link in preventing fraud is on the other side of the screen. Understanding how banks communicate with their customers and what information should never be disclosed to anyone takes far.

"Attract and retention of talented anti-financial crime experts will be a key factor in the future for the banks to be able face the new fraud modus operandi."

No one is immune towards fraud. Higher education or age does not ultimately protect from being a victim of fraud or scams. In a modern society, everything happens at a rapid pace; seemingly exceptional opportunities that are available on a limited time makes us forget to think with our brains but act on feelings or pressure. That’s where the story goes on a wrong track. Common guide is to “Stop and think. Then think once more before you click.” Unfortunately, this guide is often disregarded when our reptilian brain takes over: we want to proceed further up with our scale on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

7 advices on effective anti-fraud actions:

1. Educate your employees and customers which are the safe ways of using personal netbank credentials. Use videos or social media to reach the younger population. Elderly people prefer face-to-face or letter supported with customer service via phone.

2. Support the above by providing your customers digital services that are easy to comprehend and use no matter which age group the customer is in.

3. Fraud is often started via contact from the criminals using email, social media, text message or a phone call. Consider where you want to share your contact details and with who. Remember that hackers can have your information from a data breach so be suspicious on contacts that seem to be off in anyway. Confirm the authenticity of the contact by reaching the service provider yourself by calling or using their support through chat, email, or phone.

4. If you have become a victim: contact your bank as soon as possible. Banks are in the key role to prevent further losses and potentially obtain the lost funds back.Then make a police report. This way, the authorities can potentially help you and prevent other potential victims in the future.

5. Support your customers who have been a victim of fraud. Stigma of being scammed can be so strong that the victim’s life quality can suffer dramatically. Important concrete actions would be to guide victim to the 3rd sector support service when bank’s own resources do not allow this. 

6. Do your homework by updating your banks’ threat picture on a mid- and long-term and maintain the defences at all time. Not to mention you need to keep your staff up-to-date and happy as well.

7. Criminals benefit from silos in the organizations. Invest time and resources, ensuring anti-financial crime (afc) prevention. It is an integral and natural part of overall customer end-to-end process.