This week I had my bank account details stolen by an international fraud ring, where fraudsters set up a new mobile phone account in my name and delivered an expensive new phone. Then, a dodgy looking bloke in a branded jumper knocked at the door and asked for the phone, saying it had been delivered to me in error.
I challenged him. His branded jumper looked too small for him and he was driving a very expensive looking new car. He didn’t get his phone. But it left me feeling vulnerable.
The experience has increased my awareness of my own security arrangements for personal data, which are pretty strong, as you would expect. More pertinently, it has led me to review again the security arrangements we have in place for the council’s money and how we help our communities to be fraud aware when these tricksters are so credible.
This is even more important now when we have been responsible for passporting significantly more money than normal in the form of grants to business owners, providers of care and individuals with the various COVID payments.
My thoughts are not with genuine grant-giving, but with fraudsters who try to obtain money they are not entitled to and, in the process, make people feel vulnerable. I have three lines of attack.
The first is a well-considered awareness campaign aligned to those already undertaken by our banks and police which identifies the scams as they arise.
The second, as part of our ‘supporting people’ strategies, is we ensure scam awareness is part of the support we provide to individuals and businesses.
And third, we be relentless about assurances that the council does not inadvertently support fraudsters through increased targeted controls testing. We won’t ever stop all fraudsters but we can make it difficult for them to prey on people’s susceptibility.
Tracie Langley is chief operating officer and s151 at Cornwall Council