Warning about “Authority Frauds” | Financial scams in the name of authorities: Beware of this scam

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An email from the police, a letter from the administrative court, a letter from the National Bank, a supervisory authority, or the tax authorities—all of them are fake. Fraudulent letters purporting to be from the authorities are not a new phenomenon but one that is constantly growing. The Financial Market Authority, in whose name such fraud attempts have also been repeatedly launched, has just recently stated in its new report: “The most common scam in 2023 was “authority fraud” (or “authority scam,” note), at 44%. Fraudsters pretend to be employees of an authority, such as the FMA, in order to lure consumers into a fraudulent trap,” as emphasized.

For example, there are warnings of an impending account blocking in order to obtain access data for e-banking. Or transfers of alleged “administrative fines” are requested. Other fictitious accusations are also made in such letters in order to scam money. The range of this scam, from the supposed sender to the content, is wide. “The documents are often very authentically designed and contain real logos and real names,” warns the Federal Criminal Police Office on a regular basis.

When asked how to recognize fraudulent emails, the federal portal onlinesicherheit.gv.at lists these key factors:

Sender’s e-mail address: take a close look at the e-mail address. Is it plausible? If it were an e-mail from the police or an Austrian authority, the e-mail address would end with gv.at. If you are unsure, ask the authority listed as the sender whether the e-mail actually comes from them. However, search for the contact address on the Internet and do not contact the address given in the e-mail.

Missing salutation: Be careful if you are not addressed at all or only generally with “Hello” or “Dear Sir or Madam.” This is probably an email that has been sent out en masse.

Threats and time pressure: Are you being accused of something or told about a problem? Are you being asked to act immediately, otherwise there will be consequences? Does the email cause stress? Then, it is most likely a fraudulent e-mail. Criminals use their emails to trigger emotions that lead to rash actions. Emails like this are stressful. You have the feeling that you have to act immediately. This is exactly what criminals want. They know that letters from authorities, such as the police, cause unease, so they pretend to be them. Scams in which criminals pretend to be authorities are known as authority scams.

“Extreme caution required”
The Financial Market Authority, which repeatedly deals with the issue of “authority scams,” also emphasizes: “The FMA never asks you to disclose sensitive bank details such as PINs and passwords or to transfer money, nor does it approve any transactions.” In case of any doubt, it is recommended to consult the FMA consumer information. According to the FMA, such scams always follow the same patterns: “For example, in addition to requesting confidential personal data, including unsolicited calls, and any form of disproportionate pressure, extreme caution is required.” The FMA also offers an online checklist that shows how to recognize financial fraudsters.

  • source: kleinezeitung.at/picture: pixabay.com
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