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Recognising Help Desk Fraud

What would you do if someone claiming to be from a company called you up and warned you, for example, that your personal data was at risk? You would of course take a phone call like this seriously. After all, you don't want strangers gaining access to your data, and it is this fear that fraudsters try to exploit. They call you from a telephone number that appears to belong to a company you are a customer of and tell you things that aren’t true. In this article we explain how you can recognise help desk fraud.

‘Good afternoon, you’re speaking to Manon from the ABN AMRO Helpdesk’

We have recently seen an increase in the number of cases of attempted help desk fraud, where fraudsters pose as help desk employees from large, well-known companies. In the case of bank help desk fraud, for example, you would receive a phone call from someone claiming to work at your bank. These fraudsters search the internet for the name of someone who really does work at ABN AMRO, and use this name when they call you. If you were to look this person up online you would find them listed as an employee of the bank, which would appear to corroborate their story. 

Fraudsters always call from a fake number, but they can trick your phone into showing you that it’s your bank calling so you will actually see the phone number of your bank on your screen.

Personal details

During the phone call, the fake employee will tell you about a problem that urgently needs to be resolved. You will be asked to take action quickly. Sometimes, fraudsters will ask you for personal details like your address, account number or date of birth. It might seem like they know a lot about you, which makes them sound very convincing. 

These individuals will often have obtained your data via illegal means, for example by hacking online stores or via a data leak. That means you can’t stop a fraudster from contacting you. 

‘Because the fraudster seems to know a lot about you, help desk fraud can seem very convincing. It’s important to remember that ABN AMRO employees will never ask you the kind of questions fraudsters ask: they will never ask you to transfer money, to share your security codes or to click on a link that will allow you to log in directly to your online banking or the ABN AMRO app.’ Ireen Lammerts – Security Advisor at ABN AMRO

'Keep your money secure in a safe deposit account'

Perpetrators of bank help desk fraud will often tell you that there is an ‘urgent problem’ relating to suspicious transactions from your current account. This is not the case, but they will try and convince you to take action quickly. The fraudster will urge you to put your money somewhere safe. In most cases, they will tell you to transfer your money to a 'safe deposit account’ or a 'secure account’. However, this is all a hoax: there is no such thing as a safe deposit account. 

ABN AMRO will never ask you to transfer money. Nor will we ask you for your security codes. You should never share this information, and you should never transfer money at the request of a ‘bank employee’. If you receive a text instead of a phone call, remember that we will never send you links that allow you to log in directly to your online banking or the ABN AMRO app.

Look up the number yourself and call them back

If you do get a call from your bank or a company, it can’t hurt to hear them out. We might be calling you because we don't have all your personal details, or because we want to know what you think of our services. That said, it’s important to remain vigilant, especially if you feel you are being pressured into taking action. If in doubt, or if you think you might be speaking to a fraudster, end the call and look up the phone number of the company in question. Call them back on that number, wait to speak to an employee and see whether the story checks out. You will find all of ABN AMRO’s telephone numbers here. 

If you have fallen victim to fraud, let us know straight away. We also advise you to report it to the police. If you have received a call from a fake employee but you didn’t transfer any money, you don't need to worry. What’s important is that you know how to recognise the different kinds of fraud.

For example, we will never ask you to:

  • Tell us your security codes 
  • Transfer money 
  • Transfer money directly via a link in an email or text message 
  • Log in directly to your online banking or the ABN AMRO app via a link 
  • Send us your card reader