This guest post is written by Ted Higgins, a financial writer for the Total Bankruptcy Blog.
During the World Cup, soccer players will flop, feign, and fall in order to draw penalties against their opponents. Unfortunately, this sort of scamming also occurs away from the field. In fact, major international events like the World Cup create a golden opportunity for criminals operating credit card scams.
Banks typically use risk-calculating formulas to determine whether bizarre credit card transactions are actually the result of scams. However, when thousands of international travelers make unique purchases, such as flights to South Africa or tickets to World Cup games, these risk calculations can be overwhelmed and fail to properly function.
As a result, according to Bank Systems & Technology, banks often fail to notice fraudulent transactions associated with international sporting events because of the statistical chaos created by the high volume of unique credit activity.
This fear proved accurate immediately after the World Cup match ups were announced, when banks saw a sharp increase in the number of reported frauds. Such fraud often occurs through “phishing” emails, which can often look very professional. These emails will usually ask for victims credit card details or online banking passwords. During an event like the World Cup, scam emails often promise bargains on tickets or seductive travel packages.
While banks do police fraudulent activity, they are reportedly poor at spotting fraud in real time, as it occurs. As a result, consumers must spot fraud for themselves. If they don’t, they could be stuck holding the check for someone else, or may even face bankruptcy to protect themselves.
Facts on World Cup Fraud
According to online technology publication The Register, various fraud efforts are thriving at this year’s World Cup:
- You may have won: A favored trick of fraudsters is to promise free World Cup tickets or cash prizes. These emails simply ask for a small fee as an “administrative” cost. Treat such offers as you would a slide tackle: with extreme caution. And remember, such prizes can only be offered by official World Cup sponsors.
- Scams are already in full force: Sources indicate that at least 419 unique email scams related to the World Cup are already in circulation. Most of these scams originate from Nigeria-based IP addresses.
- Beware of soccer-themed applications: Some of these scam emails promise exciting soccer applications or videos with the download of an attached file. These files may generate pop-up software that records your computer activity. To prevent infection by such malware, only open files from addresses you trust.
- Emails are not the only source of fraud: Other scam approaches include search engine manipulation, in which fraudsters divert users to download malware that may appear to be video clips of famous soccer players.
For general information on preventing identity theft, read this consumer guide from the National Crime Prevention Council.