Helena Wall, Head of Fraud Intelligence and Awareness within Fraud Management at Nordea, was interviewed by ‘The Paypers’ to discuss the latest trends in financial service fraud attempts and how people can be educated on the tactics being applied by fraudsters.
This article originally appeared in The Paypers ‘Financial Crime and Fraud Report 2021′. The article was independently edited by The Paypers and is re-shared here. You can download a free, printable PDF copy of the ‘Financial Crime and Fraud Report 2021’ by visiting The Paypers Reports section here.
What trends have you spotted since March 2020 in terms of types of fraud in financial services?
In the Nordic region, we had a significant drop in fraud cases during the first half of the year and also in the early autumn months. In that sense, the Nordic region differed from the rest of Europe. The drop was true cross all different modus operandi. We made an early assessment in March on the expected impact of the pandemic on the fraud landscape where we did not foresee a surge of new approaches, but rather tweaks of already existing ones to fit the pandemic theme. This assessment turned out to be spot on. The drop in overall levels of different types of fraud cases are unfortunately not the case anymore and we are more or less again up to the normal caseload. What was expected and also now seen is an increase in different types of credit fraud, which can be attributed to a tough economy for many citizens.
Otherwise, the general trend in the Nordic region still is and has been for a couple of years more or less low-tech fraud based on elaborate social engineering like vishing. We also see an increase in fraudsters focusing on targeting mobile devices through smishing campaigns, that either steals credentials or other sensitive information or converts to a fraudulent phone call in the end.
The shift to digital payments due to the current pandemic has determined customers use new payments methods/different banking channels. How do they align with current anti-financial fraud strategies?
Not sure if this is a relevant question for me since in the Nordic region digital payments and channels have been the dominant procedure for a long time. From a more general society perspective, however, more people, especially elderly citizens have been forced to learn and adopt new ways of keeping in touch and communicating digitally. This is in many ways a positive thing but could of course also lead to some additional risks for people that are not used to the technology.
How can customers and employees be educated on criminal tactics?
This is extremely important. The only way forward here is to have dedicated recourses that continuously focus on different types of awareness activities. The fraud risk perspective must be a natural part of business and feature development from the start. When developing cool new products or services, you always need to keep in mind how they can be misused. Because it will be if you have missed thinking like the fraudster from the beginning. Customer-facing employees need to be informed regularly on current fraud trends so that they can educate customers in all relevant interactions and also spot anomalies that customers might share with them.
Customers need to be educated and informed about what to expect from their bank and what not to. Reach your customer through all available channels that are fit for purpose and customer group. Be creative in the awareness work. And remember – repetition is key!
Has COVID-19 changed the battle against financial fraud, are there new risks firms must find solutions for?
Not really. Fraudsters are opportunists and they will continue using what has worked in the past. One thing that all types of companies need to consider is potential increased security risks, of different types, connected to people working from their home offices.
About Helena Wall
Helena Wall is the Head of Fraud Intelligence and Awareness within Fraud Management at Nordea Bank. She has been working in different roles in the field of anti-fraud since 2014. Before that, she worked for 14 years in different positions within the area of Internet banking at the bank. Since 2016 Helena is also a Certified Fraud Examiner by the ACFE (Association of Certified Fraud Examiners).
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