Wednesday 31 July 2013

Cybercrime and the banks

I recently read a spate of warnings about cybercrime in the UK. Here's a quote from Keith Vaz, MP, Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee. "You can steal more on the internet than you can by robbing a bank and online criminals in 25 countries have chosen the UK as their number one target."

And today, I got a phone call.

The guy at the other end said he was from Barclays. Well, maybe, I don't know that yet. Then he asked my name. Warning bells rang; he's phoning me and he doesn't know my name? So he admitted that he did, he had a list of three names; I was either myself or one of two others, both of who are female, so guess what ... it's me. And I admitted my name to him.

Then he wanted me to give him the security information that would identify me. Hold your horses there - I don't know who you are. Before I give out confidential information, like my sort code (which, of course, is on every cheque I send out) or my account number (ditto, so not as confidential as Barclays thinks) I want you to show me that you really are Barclays, and not some scum scammer trying to con me into giving out information that will let you do identity theft. I was a bit more polite than that, but that was the gist of it.

And, he didn't have anything. That was Mr Prashant.

For just such an occasion, I've given Barclays a password that they can give me when the phone up, to show me that they really are Barclays.

So he give me the phone number, and a reference number, so I could call back.

Obviously, I didn't call back the number he gave me. I'm not that green. If he's a scammer, then that isn't Barclays number, it's a number that will be answered by someone claiming to be Barclays (yes, I've had a report of that being done). So, I went to my list of Barclays people, and called my previous "relationship manager". He, of course, wasn't there, so I got a recorded message. I called the number that the message gave me, and got a call center. I spoke to Miss Ruchi, but she couldn't verify that Mr Prashant worked for Barclays, and she couldn't give me the phone number of my current "relationship manager" (they seem to change them every few months, I suppose it's to prevent any kind of relationship from developing), because she didn't have it. Then she asked if I was happy with the service she'd given me, so I explained, not entirely, because she couldn't give me the phone number of my current "relationship manager". She explained that this wasn't her fault, she didn't have it, and I pointed out that I wasn't suggesting that is was her fault, but she did ask me if I was happy, and I was explaining why I wasn't. We parted amicably, after I suggested to her that she should ask for the phone numbers of "relationship manager" to be available to her.

So then I called my old "relationship manager" again, and got Sandeep. Sandeep was very helpful. At last! He spoke with the people at Mr Prashant's department, and they told him (and he relayed to me) that the problem was that on a recent payment order we'd sent in, one of the digits of the receiving bank was missing. Well, I don't actually believe this; they've had this problem before, and it was to do with some problem between the people we give it to, and the people that they pass it along to. But at least I know what the problem is.

But here's a much bigger problem.

Every day, bank staff are calling people out of the blue, claiming to be from their bank, and then putting them through a "security check" that asks A) for information that's on every check I send out and B) my mother's maiden name, which I suspect isn't too hard to research, and then maybe more information which might not actually be publicly available, and they expect people to give out this information over the ohone to a comlpete stranger!

So that's why I have given them a password that they can repeat back to me, which should be on my file (but I suspect it isn't). And even if it were, Barclays Payment Processing don't, apparently, have access to the files that my relationship manager has. Or, to put it another way, the idea of a relationship manager is so that I can deal with one guy and not numerous weird and wonderful departments all over Barclays, and clearly that isn't working.

No wonder cybercrime is on the increase. Not only are people very gullible when contacted by scammers; also our banks are teaching them to give out confidential information to anyone who claims to be from a bank!


  1. Two things drsolly,
    1) You need to check your thermometer, it said 33 degrees when I looked just now!! It CANT be that hot there!!

    2) I have just been reading on Yahoo that they analysed 3.4 million, pin numbers and came up with the top 10 guessable ones!! I'm just changing mine to 1234 cos I want to be 1st!!

    Curiously, and i'm not a suspicious person, I "changed" my mothers maiden name years ago! But I do find it funny that the banks ask you , or certainly me, the SAME questions each time, I'm sure I could find the first line of your address, and this would lead me to your postcode! And then I may have an educated guess at the town you opened your account in. I bet you I could also guess one of your utility bills.....

    Not that I'm stalking you!!

    I feel your other reader, would not benefit from this piece of adivce either, because both you and they are far more intelectual than me, but the best pins/ password/ names/ favourite dates are the ones you make up from random data "strewn" around yourself. Middle two numbers of the hifi serial number, third letter in the newspaper headline, the age of the celebrity whose age is printed in the glossy magazine to the right of the toaster! etc. etc.But if you really struggle, just use 2580!!

  2. Yes, it can be 33 degrees. That's 91 Fahrenheit. Look at the BBC weather forecast; they were predicting that sort of heat today.

    I look around the room, see three objects, take a syllable from each of them, and make a password out of that.

  3. The Daily Telegraph said it was 33 degrees yesterday. Now I'm not one for believing anything the press say, but in this case, I'll make an exception.

  4. I've had a few scammers try for my details like that, my favourite trick is to give totally dud info. Password word sir? Ah yes that will be superchafufandulisti . Yes sir that's correct and straight away I know I have a scammer and the fun begins, oh and credit card number that's 434612312343567 yes and the numbers on the back 999 ;)

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