Today, it’s easier than ever to send somebody an online payment. Whether you need to pay a friend back for dinner, are sending some money to your mum for her birthday, or need to pay your rent to your landlord, it can often be done in just a few taps if you use online banking. However, sending money online can also be quite risky if you are not being careful.
Since online bank transfers are a quick, immediate payment that cannot usually be reversed, they are often commonly used in fraud and scam schemes. Last year alone, around three hundred million dollars was lost in these types of scams around the world. So, if you need to send money to somebody online, here’s what you should do to ensure your security and safety.
1. Use a Trusted Payment App
Most of the time, it’s easy to set up a new payee and make a payment using your online banking app, especially if you are using a digital-first bank such as Monzo or Starling. More traditional banks might require you to use a card reader for additional authentication before you can send the cash.
However, in some cases, it might not be possible for you to send money using your banking app. For example, if you are sending money to somebody overseas, a different payment method will usually be required. In this case, always do your research and choose a trusted, reputable app that has excellent security measures in place, such as Ria Money Transfer.
2. Double Check the Recipient
It’s important to only send money to somebody online when you are sure of where your money is going and in whose hands it’s going to end up.
If you have been asked to transfer money to somebody that you do not know or have been asked to receive money in your bank account to transfer it on to somebody else, you should always decline since this is often a money laundering scam where innocent members of the public are used as ‘money mules’.
It could even get your bank account completely blocked with no access to your money while it is investigated. Before making a transfer, be sure that you know who you’re sending money to and why. Get the recipient to confirm their details before you hit the send button.
3. Common Money Transfer Scams to Watch Out For
Along with inadvertently getting involved with money laundering activities, there are many other bank and money transfer scams out there that could catch you out if you are not careful. Some of the most common ones include:
· Property Scams:
If you are in the process of renting or buying a new property, it’s important to be extra careful with where you are sending your money. These scams are some of the most dangerous and often end up robbing people of significant amounts of money.
Scammers target people who are in the closing process of buying a property by gaining access to a legitimate email account and impersonating a housing professional such as an estate agent or conveyancing solicitor.
They send an email to the victim with fraudulent details for them to transfer the money. Often, victims believe this is a genuine email from a professional that they are familiar with and think nothing of making the payment. Before you make any payments, especially if requested via email, it’s important to double-check with the sender by contacting them directly – don’t reply to the email.
· Online Shopping Scams:
This type of scam can sometimes be the trickiest one to spot since scammers create a realistic website including social media ads and other online advertisements to lure you in. Often, it’s impossible for victims to tell the difference between the fraudulent site and a legitimate online shopping site when they are browsing and adding items to their basket.
However, there are some tell-tale signs to look out for. One of the main ones is that when you come to the checkout stage, there may not be the option to pay in a secure and recognised way such as credit or debit card, or PayPal. Scammers usually request that you pay using a mobile payment app or by making a bank transfer since these are not usually reversible compared to making a card payment.
· Romance Scams:
Romance scams are another growing type of scam that target vulnerable and elderly people who may want to help others and build relationships.
They often take place on dating websites or social media sites, and usually involve a scammer building a personal relationship with the victim before asking them to send money via wire transfer. Often, the money is requested in smaller amounts over a period of time but will quickly add up. Never send money to anybody that you have never met in person – you can never be too careful.
· Tech Support Scams:
These scams usually involve the scammer calling the victim and claiming to be from a reputable, well-known technology company like Microsoft or Apple.
Seniors are often the main target for these scammers since they will be less tech-savvy compared to younger generations and often more trusting of somebody who appears to be saying all the right things about computers. The scammer will tell the victim about a made-up fault on their computer and request remote access to the machine.
When remote access is given, the scammer will then install malware on the computer that allows them to steal personal data and financial information. In some scams, the scammer will call saying that you are owed a refund and they need access to your online banking account to repay the money, but will instead transfer your money out to an account controlled by them.
While sending payments online is now widely considered to be a convenient and mostly safe option, there are still some risks to be aware of. Whoever you need to send money to and whatever the reason, it’s important to always be vigilant and double-check before hitting send.