Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomeFintechOver 2,000 Copycat Banking Websites Reported in 2023; Which? Urges Authorities to...

Over 2,000 Copycat Banking Websites Reported in 2023; Which? Urges Authorities to Act


Client champion Which? is asking for brand new legal guidelines to drive area registrars to do extra to forestall rip-off banking ‘copycat’ web sites showing within the first place; after it revealed that over 2,000 of those suspected websites had been reported in 2023.

For a few years, banking copycat web sites have been masquerading as actual banks, hoping to trick unsuspecting customers into sending their cash to scammers. In response, Which? has joined forces with the DNS Analysis Federation (DNSRF), an Oxford-based non-profit that does data-driven coverage analysis on domains and web governance, to seek out out simply how widespread the problem is.

Which? requested DNSRF to examine business blocklists, itemizing web sites reported to have hosted unlawful content material, through which it discovered that over 2,000 URLs contained UK financial institution manufacturers. The affected banks had been Barclays, HSBC, Halifax, Lloyds, Monzo, Nationwide, NatWest, Santander, in addition to Starling.

Most websites gave the impression to be apparent makes an attempt to guide financial institution prospects astray. Throughout two blocklists, the phrases Santander and Barclays appeared most frequently. Lately, Which? has repeatedly warned about phishing scams utilizing Santander branding, a preferred goal for impersonation by fraudsters.

Rocio Concha, copycat bankingRocio Concha, copycat banking
Rocio Concha, director of coverage and advocacy at Which?

Rocio Concha, director of coverage and advocacy at Which?, commented: “It’s vastly regarding that 1000’s of banking copycat web sites had been reported in a single 12 months – doubtlessly leaving thousands and thousands of customers uncovered to fraudulent content material on-line.

“Customers who’re simply making an attempt to financial institution on-line mustn’t should shoulder the accountability of reporting rip-off websites and chasing area registrars to take them down.

“Area registrars have a a lot greater function to play within the struggle in opposition to on-line fraud. With an election simply across the nook, the subsequent authorities should make preventing fraud a nationwide precedence, and place new authorized duties on these corporations to forestall scammers from organising these fraudulent copycat web sites.”

Are these copycats simply the tip of the iceberg?

Which? has warned that the information is inexact and that it couldn’t examine if every web site was genuinely fraudulent or supposed to impersonate the banks in query, as webhosting corporations or scammers themselves had already taken them down.

Nonetheless, additionally it is potential that many copycat web sites had been missed, as a result of they weren’t on blocklists. Some websites are solely lively for days and even hours earlier than fraudsters wipe the content material and abandon it.

The buyer champion additionally requested greater than 1,200 of its members in January 2024 how a lot they knew about copycat banking websites. When requested if they’d ever unwittingly entered their particulars into such web sites, two per cent thought they’d, whereas an additional three per cent had been not sure.

The overwhelming majority of our respondents had been in a position to establish that unusual or unofficial-looking net addresses, poor spelling and grammar had been hallmarks of a rip-off web site. Nonetheless, these indicators could start to look much less and fewer as scammers start to utilise AI to scale back the variety of typos and enhance grammar.

Combatting copycats

Solely 27 per cent knew they might use a site lookup service comparable to who.is to see when the proprietor registered a web site. Doing this may allow customers to identify a brand-new web site masquerading as a long-established financial institution.

Which?’s analysis highlights that area registrars have a a lot greater function to play within the struggle in opposition to on-line fraud. To arrange a copycat web site, fraudsters want to make use of a site registrar and to take one down, customers and companies must contact a webhosting firm. Even supposing many corporations function as each, the business continues to self-regulate.

Which? discovered that the strategy to reviews of rip-off websites isn’t uniform and likewise varies enormously between corporations. Some rapidly take away copycat web sites, whereas others don’t even reply to reviews. The UK authorities is at the moment consulting on new powers to grab domains used for felony functions.

With restricted time to introduce laws earlier than the subsequent election, Which? is asking on the subsequent authorities to put an obligation on area registrars to forestall scammers from organising these fraudulent web sites.

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