How to recognise a financial scam
UK fraud prevention groups are warning individuals to be extra vigilant in the run up to Christmas and New Year sales. As these scams increase in sophistication, we are all vulnerable. Fraudsters can be articulate and financially knowledgeable, with credible websites, testimonials and materials that are hard to distinguish from the real thing.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) reminds consumers that like anything valuable, your pension or investments can become the target for illegal activities, scams, or inappropriate investments. Scams can take many forms and often appear to be a legitimate investment opportunity. Use the FCA’s Scam Smart to check investments and pensions.
We have pulled together a list of tips on how best to recognise and avoid a financial scam.
- Stop and check the domain name of the sender’s email address. Fraudsters draw you in with an email that looks remarkably legitimate, so a close match but with something slightly off. Think @amaz0n.co.uk. If you are still unsure, it is good practice to go to the website directly rather than click on any links in the email.
- Do not click on links or open emails from senders you do not know.
- Be wary of special offers and deals that sound too good to be true. Avoid the pressure to act quickly.
- Avoid shopping on public Wi-Fi networks such as the railway station. They rarely have the safety protocols such as passwords in place, so easier for hackers to piggyback and steal unsecured banking details without you knowing.
- Be careful of fake websites designed to look identical to an official one. Every website should have a valid security certificate and you can tell by the little padlock icon next to the URL. If the website doesn’t have one, don’t give any personal details.
- Apple Pay and Google Pay are good payment options as they protect your bank details.
- Keep an eye on your bank account and if you see anything unusual get in touch with them.
- If you think any of your online accounts have been compromised, change the password, and try to have a unique password for each retailer.
- Another classic is a text message suggesting you have a parcel waiting with DHL, Royal Mail or some other delivery provider. A good indicator that something is amiss is if the text asks you for payment and includes a bit.ly link. Do not click on these.
- Investment opportunities found through search engines are not necessarily authorised or regulated by the FCA.
- Always check who you are dealing with before changing your pension arrangements or transferring money to another account.
- Take time to make checks and seek financial guidance.
- The FCA helpline is 0800 111 6768 and all investment and pension providers should be registered. Financial Management is registered as Philip Harper LLP and everyone should have a unique number – ours is 485423. Search for the FCA page via Google, do not click on a link within an email.
- If you get cold-called, the safest thing to do is to hang up. If you receive unexpected offers by email or text, it’s best to simply ignore them. You can register with the Telephone Preference Service and Mailing Preference Service to reduce the number of letters and cold calls you receive. Callers may pretend they aren’t cold calling you by referring to a brochure or an email they sent you that’s why it’s important you know how to spot the other warning signs.
We are here to help If you are unsure about any financial approaches, please contact us first.
By Philip Harper | November 2022
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