As the fields of technology and finance evolve, so too do fraudsters and their methods. According to UK Finance, scammers stole £753.9 million through fraud in the first half of 2021, a rise of 30% when compared to the first half of 2020.
Plus, victims are increasingly unlikely to get their money back if they’ve fallen victim to scams. FTAdviser report that only 34% of scam victims managed to get their money back, a drop of 9% compared to the same period in 2020.
In a world of ever-advancing technology, you may feel increasingly worried about protecting yourself and your financial data. As such, here’s a list of the most common scams taking place right now, and five simple tips to help keep you and your finances safe.
Common scams to be aware of
UK Finance found that unauthorised fraud claimed a total of £398.6 million in the first half of 2021, an increase of 7% when compared to the same period in 2020. However, the banking and finance industry had managed to prevent an additional £736 million from falling into the pockets of fraudsters.
Authorised push payment (APP) scams appear to be increasingly common, taking a total of £355.3 million from the British public.
The largest increase is that of impersonation scams, which more than doubled, taking a total of £129.3 million through the first half of the year.
The pandemic gave rise for more opportunities for scammers to impersonate companies that have been key throughout the last 18 months. The NHS, Royal Mail, and online banks have all been impersonated to take thousands out of the pockets of unknowing individuals.
If you’ve fallen victim to fraud, Action Fraud is the national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre. This is where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, defrauded, or experienced cybercrime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
1. Be vigilant for common tell-tale signs of scams
While scams can be difficult to recognise, especially if the scammer has spent the time to make it appear official, you can sometimes tell by paying close attention to the details.
If you find yourself on a website, check the address thoroughly, and ensure that you can reach the page you’re on from the company’s official website. Make sure that the address is registered on a recognisable top-level domain, such as “.com”, “.co.uk”, or “.org”.
If you receive an email, check for any lexical or grammatical errors, and make sure that their email address is registered with the company or firm they claim to represent.
If you don’t recognise the name of the firm, you can look them up on the government website to find out more about them and determine if they are a legally registered UK company.
2. Ask yourself: “Is this too good to be true?”
“Guaranteed investment returns with low risk!” “An offer that is sure to pay back five times what you put in!” “Buy a popular cryptocurrency at a discounted rate!”
Of course, these offers sound appealing, but that’s exactly what they’re designed to do. For each of them, you must ask yourself, “Is this offer too good to be true?” If the answer is “yes”, then there’s likely no truth behind it at all.
Be aware of false promises and be sure to do extensive research on who the person offering you the deal claims to be before you commit to any offer.
If you’re not sure of the identity of an individual, or you don’t know whether a firm is legitimate, you can search the Financial Conduct Authority register. Here, you can check whether a firm is on the regulator’s “warning list” and research any investment or pension opportunity you have been offered.
3. Do not accept offers to unlock your pension
A common scam that targets those approaching retirement is to offer the opportunity to grant you access to your pension early. Early access to your pension is typically only available in extremely rare cases and doing so could cost you thousands in fees and leave you with a substantial tax bill.
Plus, you may be giving fraudsters access to your pension savings, which could leave you with nothing by the time you stop working.
4. Be resistant to pressure
Perhaps you want to take the time to do your research on an offer, but you are told that it is a limited time deal?
There is a common tactic among scammers of pressuring potential victims into making a purchase or investment without giving them time to think about it.
They may say that only a small number of people will be offered the deal, there is a time limit on accepting the deal, or that the deal is for you and only you.
They may even include a fake celebrity endorsement to make the product more appealing or trustworthy.
Always beware of such deals. Take your time to research whether the offer is genuine before you commit.
5. Be wary of unsolicited calls
Generally, its best to be wary of any unsolicited communication, be it through email, text, or phone call. This is especially true when your finances are concerned. With impersonation fraud on the rise, it’s always better ensure you know who you are speaking to and to never hand over personal information.
One of the most recent common impersonation scams is a text purporting to be from Royal Mail asking you to organise a new delivery date for a package that was undelivered. Another is a text from a bank letting you know that you’ve “set up a new contact” and to follow a link if it wasn’t you.
Doing so is dangerous, especially if you have no reason to be receiving these messages. Think about how your bank or delivery service usually contacts you, and if you have any message history with the sender.
Also think about the kind of information the real company may ask for, and if there’s too much being asked from you.
Lastly, it is worth remembering that the practice of pensions cold-calling was outlawed in 2019, so you will almost certainly never receive a genuine, unsolicited call surrounding your pensions.
Get in touch
If you’d like more advice on how you can stay safe, or if you’d like to check whether an offer you’ve been given is a scam, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0115 933 8433.