Financial Scams – How to Protect Yourself
Are you saddened each time you hear a report in the media that another unfortunate person has lost their hard-earned money as a result of unscrupulous fraudsters? It is easy to think, ”it must have been a ‘Scam’” – why didn’t the victim spot it before it was too late?’
Working in the Financial Sector gives some insight into the tactics that ‘Scammers’ employ but their methods are becoming increasingly sophisticated. We are all especially vulnerable when it comes to approaches via the internet. Will the latest General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation help us? Or will we simply now be MORE likely to believe any communications we receive, assuming unsolicited contact is now being prevented?
What is a scam?
Scams can come in many forms, but all are designed to get hold of your money.
This is done by getting you to reveal your personal details, stealing your information, or even getting you to willingly hand over the cash.
The key is knowing how to recognise a scam, how to protect yourself and what to do if you think you’ve been targeted.
How to recognise a scam
Knowing what to look for is one of the best ways to protect yourself.
- Unsolicited or unexpected contact. If you have received any kind of contact, but particularly a phone call, out of the blue, it is best to avoid it.
- Email address. If you get an email, expand the pane at the top of the message and see exactly who it has come from. If it is a scam, the email address the message has come from could be filled with random numbers or be misspelled.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. This is something you normally find with pension or investment scams, where the fraudster guarantees you huge returns, but tells you it is low risk.
- Personal details, PIN codes and passwords. These are things no legitimate company will ask you for.
- Quick decisions. If you are pushed into making a decision on the spot, be suspicious. Scammers don’t want you to have time to think about it.
- Random competitions, particularly if you don’t remember entering them, should ring alarm bells.
Find out more about the different types of scams, how to spot them and what to do if you’ve been targeted.
How to protect yourself against scams
While some of these are good advice in general, many are aimed at keeping you safe online:
- Do your homework on any unexpected If you are suspicious about phone calls, letters, emails or people knocking on your door, seek further clarification or advice.
- Take extra care when giving out your personal information. This can be used to steal your identity and access accounts.
- Keep operating system and virus protection software up-to-date. Don’t ignore updates as these can often include patches to protect against new kinds of scams, viruses and ransomware. This goes for mobile devices as well.
- Make sure all accounts have a strong password. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts and change them regularly.
- Don’t make any advanced payments until you are sure the company you’re dealing with is legitimate.
- If you’re unsure about a financial services company, check the Financial Conduct Authority FCA register of regulated companies. If they’re not on it, avoid them and use one that is on the register.
- If you’re unsure about any other kind of company, you can look them up on Companies House to find out their background, or search for reviews online.
- Use safe and secure WiFi connections and avoid public WiFi. Your standard 3G or 4G connection is often more secure than the one in the coffee shop or restaurant.
- Make sure any websites you are using are secure. Check to see if the web address starts with HTTPS, and has a padlock icon, not just HTTP.
- DO log-on to https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/beginners-guide-to-scams for further help and information with all the above and more.
- Visit www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk to learn more and to become a SCAMchampion. Help others by encouraging them to complete the Friends Against Scams online learning module too.
If you do think you have been the victim of a scam then firstly, don’t blame yourself! These people are very devious and you should not be afraid to share your suspicions.
What should you do if you’ve been the victim of a scam?
If you think you’ve been scammed there are three things you need to do:
- Stop sending money straight away. If the payment has been set up as a Direct Debit, get in touch with your bank to stop this immediately.
- Report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use their online reporting tool.
- Beware of follow-up scams. Sometimes after reporting a scam you might get targeted again by a fraudster who says they can get your money back.
If you think you’ve been targeted by a scam, you should also report it so it can be investigated. You can do this through the Financial Conduct Authority website using their reporting form.
How HGH Wealth Management can help
We hope you never become the victim of financial fraud. We are here to help you make the best of your financial circumstances, including protecting yourself from those who have other ideas! Please do contact us if you are concerned in any way about financial transactions or investments you have made or are considering. An initial, confidential consultation will cost you nothing and could save you a great deal!
To arrange an initial free confidential consultation, contact Nick Lawson on 01904 655202 or email firstname.lastname@example.org