Expat savers are more at risk of internet fraud than people living in the UK because they tend to do more online banking, it is believed.
They could also be more able to access the new contactless payments technologies and use the new mobile phone payment systems that are not yet being rolled out in Europe and the US.
According to CIFAS, the UK fraud prevention agency, there were 80,000 instances of identity fraud in the first nine months of this year and although there are no exact figures for expats offshore banks say they are aware that their customers are more likely to be victims of internet crime.
Abbey International says the most common risk is phishing scams where a fraudster gets the intended victim to give them their personal information and passwords.
Another is pharming where the fraudster hijacks the domain name of a bank and re-directs you to a bogus website that looks like the genuine thing but is a means of getting your personal banking details including your account details and pin number.
Banks advise customers that they will never ask for details by email. Many of these scams look professional, but there are pointers that show they are bogus. These include asking you to click through to their website and asking for your pin number.
Advice to combat fraud includes never giving your details in reply to an email; always log off properly when you have been banking online and changing passwords regularly.
Expats are also increasingly being offered the new contactless debit and credit cards. They have already been introduced in the United Arab Emirates and work by allowing people to pay for low value goods up to around £20 by swiping their card. Visa’s version is called Pay Wave and MasterCard’s is PayPass.
HSBC has issued 40,000 debit cards with the new technology in the UAE that can be used in 100 outlets and Emirate NBD has cards that can be used at 500 outlets.
A big roll out of contactless cards is also underway in the UK and a number of banks in India are now offering the technology. In Australia taxi companies are not accepting contactless payments.
For security reasons the cards cannot be used until a pin is entered on first use and users will randomly be asked for their pin numbers.
The next bit of technology currently being worked on is contactless payments via mobile phones. The idea is that a phone’s SIM card will connect to a near field antenna so it can conduct transactions without having to worry about the handset’s security.
Handsets are already being used in Japan but Europe and the US are behind in the technology due to issues about standards and security. It is thought that outside of Japan London will lead the way, as it wants to adopt the technology in time for the 2012 Olympic Games. It would be the first mass market deployment of the technology outside of Japan.
Apple has announced it is to launch an iPhone supporting mobile payments and Japanese handset manufacturers say they can fill demand in Europe.
Visa, one of the leaders in the sector, also believes it won’t be long before mobile telephones can be used for remote online transactions. It says that any transactions over say €20 would require a pin number and if a handset is stolen the payment capability can be remotely disabled.