Scams are becoming increasingly common and have certainly proliferated during the pandemic.
It’s fair to say they are becoming more sophisticated and harder to spot. Contact can be by telephone out of the blue but also by email or text message. I’m sure we’ve all had both email and text messages supposedly from our bank asking us to call a number or click on a link – usually it’s not even our bank.
There is help at hand with some good resources on-line that can help you keep safe: Below is an overview of ActionFraud:
Who are they?
The service is run by the City of London Police working alongside the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) who are responsible for assessment of the reports and to ensure that your fraud reports reach the right place. The City of London Police is the national policing lead for economic crime.
ActionFraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced cyber-crime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
ActionFraud explains terms used and explains how to report should you have been a victim. However, it also provides advice on prevention both for businesses and individuals. Below we have listed what they suggest you do to protect yourself.
1. Do not give any personal information (name, address, bank details, email or phone number) to organisations or people before verifying their credentials.
2. Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software and a firewall installed. Ensure your browser is set to the highest level of security and monitoring to prevent malware issues and computer crimes.
3. Many frauds start with a phishing email. Remember that banks and financial institutions will not send you an email asking you to click on a link and confirm your bank details. Do not trust such emails, even if they look genuine. You can always call your bank using the phone number on a genuine piece of correspondence, website (typed directly into the address bar) or the phone book to check if you’re not sure.
4. Sign-up to Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Code whenever you are given the option while shopping online. This involves you registering a password with your card company and adds an additional layer of security to online transactions with signed-up retailers.
5. You should regularly get a copy of your credit file and check it for entries you don’t recognise. Callcredit, Equifax and Experian can all provide your credit file. An identity protection service such as ProtectMyID monitors your Experian credit report and alerts you by email or SMS to potential fraudulent activity. If it's fraud, a dedicated caseworker will help you resolve everything.
6. Destroy and preferably shred receipts showing your card details and any post which shows your name and address. Identity fraudsters don’t need much information in order to be able to clone your identity.
7. If you receive bills, invoices or receipts for things that you haven’t bought, or financial institutions you don’t normally deal with contact you about outstanding debts, take action. Your identity may have been stolen.
8. Be extremely wary of post, phone calls or emails offering you business deals out of the blue. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Always question it.
9. If you have been a victim of fraud, be aware of fraud recovery fraud. This is when fraudsters pretend to be a lawyer or a law enforcement officer and tell you they can help you recover the money you’ve already lost.
There is more advice on their website above and as this is just an overview and we suggest you take a few minutes to read their guidance in full.
We all need to take precautions and should be wary of unsolicited and unexpected contact. Within our industry we have a regulator called the Financial Conduct Authority. They also provide a “Financial Service Register” where regulated firms and individuals are logged. Always check on here to see if the firm or individual you are dealing with is regulated. You can view the Financial Service Register here
And always remember
If your bank gets in touch, check the phone number against your bank card, you can do the same if it’s a credit card. Remember though, if you receive a call, scammers can clone phone numbers to make it appear as if your bank is calling. Think about calling them back. Your bank will never ask for your password.
Never give out your bank account or credit card details until you are certain who you are dealing with.
If it sounds too good to be true, well it probably is. In a world of very low interest rates if someone is offering double digit returns, this should ring alarm bells with you.