We protect banks and their customers from scammers because together we can stop them in their tracks, writes Jonathan Somers.
Fraud warnings are coming thick and fast from the Saudi banking authorities. Three times in the past month the Saudi Central Bank told customers to be more aware of scammers and it accompanied the warnings with temporary new measures imposed on banks designed to better protect the public.
The bank temporarily suspended certain services such as remote account opening and set a limit of SAR 60,000 on daily transactions for private and business customers. It also urged the public to be cautious about disclosing personal and banking information such as passwords and verification codes to third parties. Penalties have also been increased for anyone convicted of fraud.
An escalating issue in Saudi Arabia
Payment fraud in the Kingdom is a serious problem as in the rest of the world. According to one report, nearly two-thirds of Saudis have been exposed to a fraud attack, with just over a quarter sadly falling victim. Arab News recently revealed the story of a teacher who handed over her bank details to scammers, believing they were a courier company. This story is typical of many hundreds, if not thousands more, where the scammers impersonate a trusted third party to get details that will allow them to steal from the public.
According to the Arab News report, social engineering and phishing attacks were some of the most widespread operations faced by technology users in the Kingdom.. Worldwide, scammers are honing their techniques and developing new ones to convince the public to unwittingly transfer funds to them. Whether it’s CEO fraud, where they pose as a senior member of staff and urge a payment to be made to an account, or romance scams, where they befriend innocent people with the intent of asking for money, or as in the case of the teacher a straight case of impersonation, the scammers are too often successful.
This is a tragedy. Not only does fraud have an enormous emotional, psychological and financial impact, but it can be prevented from happening in the first place.
One solution to stop many kinds of fraud
At NetGuardians, we applaud the Saudi authorities’ efforts to raise awareness. With the right technology and approach Saudis can win this battle.
NetGuardians fraud-prevention software is designed to effectively prevent scammers from duping the public. Its ready-to-go solution prevents payment fraud resulting from scams (e.g. CEO fraud, love scams, invoice scams), social engineering, phishing attacks and more.
By building up detailed profiles of each customer, it can accurately spot out-of-character payments. Indeed, NetGuardians software spots and stops nearly one-fifth more fraud working with banks including National Bank of Kuwait in Egypt, Alinma Bank and Bank AlBilad.
This is because the focus of our software is not what the fraudsters are doing. Rather, it’s on getting to know the customer so well that it can tell when something is unusual. That unusual element may be the timing, currency, the amount, browser or the recipient. The AI-based software is efficient not just at spotting more fraud, but at only raising alerts for genuine fraud attempts.
This is important for two reasons. First, customers don’t like false alerts that slow down their payments. They want accuracy as well as safety. Second, false alerts cost the bank money. They have to be investigated and resolved, demanding resources for an activity that is a pure cost. The fewer false alerts, the more the bank can redirect those resources to value-add activities.
NetGuardians software cuts false alerts by 85 percent – that’s a considerable saving in terms of the banks’ resources and customers’ anxiety. Our success at spotting real fraud means banks don’t contact customers unnecessarily, which builds trust. It also helps burnish the bank's reputation as a pro-active, efficient, effective operator – because when a customer is contacted the chance of the payment being fraud is very high.
We applaud the authorities, wherever they are, when they highlight the problem posed by scammers and introduce measures to help the public. But this is a battle that cannot be fought by the public on its own. The scammers are smart, highly incentivized and will not give up easily. That is why we must work together, drawing on everything including smart technology to beat them.
Jonathan Somers, Regional Director MEA at NetGuardians