How to recognise scams and fraudsters
At Recognise, keeping your money safe is our priority, which is why we use the latest technology and ensure your savings are FSCS protected. However, criminals are constantly trying to trick savers into revealing their personal details or to just simply steal their money.
Unfortunately, financial scams have been on the rise during the pandemic, so here are our tips on how to spot a scam and ways you can help protect yourself, your information and your money.
Here are five scams to be aware of
1. Your bank account has been hacked
Fraudsters will call you pretending to be from your bank, claiming that your account has been hacked and your money could be stolen. They will tell you to transfer your money to a new account for safe keeping. But in fact, the new account belongs to criminals who will quickly steal your cash.
Never move your money if you get a call like this. If you are worried, hang up and contact your bank using the phone numbers on their official website and they will be able to help you. Recognise will never contact you by phone asking you to transfer your money.
2. Phishing, vishing and smishing
These are similar scams that come via phone calls, email or text. Over the phone, a scammer will try and get you to reveal your personal information. With email or text messages, you’ll be asked to click a link that will either direct you to a fake website designed to capture your personal data, or it will download malware onto your computer or phone. ‘Malware’ is a type of software that criminals use to steal your private information.
Never give out your personal data over the phone. Recognise will never ask you for your personal data over the phone. And if we call you over the phone, we won’t give out any information about your account until we’ve verified your identity. Never click on links in emails or texts that you are not expecting. Sometimes you can spot a fake email because it won’t be addressed to you personally or it will contain spelling mistakes, but be careful because fraudsters are getting smarter with their scam emails. Always keep your technology up to date with the latest operating system and most recent banking app to protect against malware attacks.
This is a kind of phishing scam that has been on the increase during lockdown. Often, it will be an email or text from a video streaming platform or a courier, the kinds of companies we are all using more of at the moment. You’ll be told a payment is due, perhaps for a subscription renewal or an underpayment on a delivery, and be asked to click a link to make the payment. But of course, it is all fake and you’ll be handing your money over to scammers.
If you actually use the company sending you the payment request, contact them directly to check if you really owe any money and ask how to make a payment. Also beware of payment demands for services that don’t cost money. There are a number of scams from fraudsters at the moment attempting to trick people into paying for Covid tests and vaccines.
4. Beware of fake websites
This could-be so-called ‘brand cloning’, whereby fraudsters create online adverts or search engine results for products like ISAs and pensions, directing consumers to fake websites made to look like real financial firms. But the products don’t exist, so any money you give them will be stolen. Other scammers simply create a website to sell non-existent products or hugely over-priced items, such as luxury watches.
Bookmark your bank’s website rather than searching for it every time, so you can be certain you have the correct site. For financial firms, ensure they have a secure website with the prefix ‘https://’ at the beginning of the address. Many good shopping sites will have a padlock symbol in the address bar to show it can be trusted, but not all retailers have this. So, if you’re not sure how trustworthy the website is, don’t use it.
5. Investments that seem too good to be true
Whether it’s cryptocurrency offering amazing returns, or an opportunity to invest in vintage wine, some of these schemes are unregulated and risky, while others are just fake and will steal your money. Also look out for scammers trying to entice you to cash-in your pension and invest it in a get-rich-quick scheme.
If it looks too good to be true, then it usually is. Particularly beware of investment offers on social media. Research any investment providers and stick to well-known organisations. If you’re not sure about a company or an investment, consult a regulated financial advisor before making any decisions.
What to do if you think you’ve been scammed
If you’ve transferred any money or made a payment, contact your bank or credit card provider immediately to see if you can stop the transaction. The same goes if you see unusual activity on your account or credit card. If you ‘ve been scammed, or you suspect a scam, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at actionfraud.police.uk.
For information on the most recent scams and frauds, or more guidance on how to protect yourself, visit the government’s Take Five anti-fraud website and the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) website.