Cyber security company VPN Overview has done a recent study on the number of online scams and phishing attempts that continue to defraud people of their money. The research has analysed data from Google searches and claims to show the top five banks which have had the most fraud enquiries from their customers over the course of a month.
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The study assessed the number of times banks were mentioned when people were searching for fraud support on Google and came up with a record of banks with the most and Santander was at the top of the list.
Top 5 banks for fraud risk
The cyber security experts analysed Google search data for various terms including ‘fraud number’, ‘fraud helpline’ and ‘bank fraud line’. It then tallied these up to determine which banks had the highest number of customers experiencing scams over the course of a month.
According to the study, the top five banks in the UK where customers are most at risk of fraud are:
- Santander - fraud search volume - 11,690
- Natwest - fraud search volume - 11,480
- Barclays - fraud search volume - 9,450
- HSBC - fraud search volume - 5,540
- Halifax - fraud search volume - 4,620
However, VPN Overview does admit that a contributing factor to the number of search terms is the number of closures of a bank's physical branches. Those with fewer branches would likely have more Google searches as people have and are forced to go online to look for help.
The cyber security firm pointed out that Natwest has planned to close 43 branches this year and Halifax also has plans to close 18.
Suspicious activity reports
Naturally, banks were not happy to find themselves on this list and several have rejected the findings altogether. A NatWest spokesperson said, as per The Mirror:
This study doesn’t indicate how likely NatWest customers are to become a victim of fraud and any inference otherwise is false and misleading.
We encourage customers to get in touch with us to report suspicious activity so we can help keep them safe. A call to our fraud team for advice and information does not mean that a fraud has taken place.
A UK Finance spokesperson went on to criticise the research:
The methodology used by VPN Overview does not reflect actual fraud levels. We contacted VPN Overview and they have acknowledged the data in their press release is misleading and are updating it.
A spokesperson from VPN Overview has warned that as the huge number of phishing scams is on the rise, the focus should be on raising awareness of the danger:
While the study reflects that customers of these particular banks are more likely to be a victim of fraud, it’s crucial for everyone to be wary of these dangerous scams – regardless of whether their bank is listed in the top five.
VPN Overview also give an 8 point plan on how to stay safe online:
- Check that your operating system is up to date
- Install antivirus software
- Use a firewall
- Protect your network with a VPN
- Use a password manager
- Learn to spot and avoid phishing emails and unsecured websites
- Routinely scan your computer for unnecessary files and clutter
- Stay alert and be vigilant!
- The Mirror 'Fraud warning issued to Santander, NatWest, Barclays and other banking customers'
- VPN Overview 'What is Phishing? Be Wary of Fake Emails and Other Scams!'
- VPN Overview 'How to Be Safe Online: 8 Cyber Hygiene Tips to Keep You Safe'