Like many of us, it’s likely that you’ve been subjected to scam phone calls, emails, and text messages. You’ve probably also read articles in the paper about people who have fallen victim to scams and lost large amounts of money.
A recent report highlighted by the BBC estimates the cost of financial scams to victims’ wellbeing at £9 billion a year.
You may well think that you’ll see through any attempted scam. But be warned: scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the methods they use to steal your money.
Watch our scams videos
To help you become “scam aware” and reduce the chance of you becoming a victim of scammers yourself, we’ve put together a comprehensive video box set that takes you through how scammers work and how you can protect yourself.
It’s certainly worth taking a few minutes to watch these short videos about scams. They’re simple and straightforward with no complicated jargon – and you may well save yourself a lot of money and stress.
No one is immune from financial scammers
As scammers are improving their techniques, it’s even more important for you to be aware of what they might do and take steps to protect both yourself and your family.
Three of the most common scams include:
- Someone phoning saying they are from your bank to tell you that the bank computers have been hacked and your money is at risk.
- An email seemingly from a reputable institution offering you a lucrative financial opportunity.
- A text message from your bank or credit card company asking you to click on a link to verify your identity before making a payment you’ve authorised.
Each of them will look or sound perfectly legitimate. For example, the person on the phone will sound anxious and keen to help you, and the text message might arrive soon after you have actually tried to make a purchase.
That’s why we’ve produced these videos and why we’d strongly recommend you watch them. They could genuinely save you a lot of money and distress.
As well as our videos, here are 10 tips to help protect yourself and your family from being scammed.
1. Never share personal information via a link
If you’re sent a link in a text message or an email, don’t enter any personal details. If you’re in any doubt at all, contact the person or company that sent you the link.
2. Don’t trust cold-callers
It’s a good idea to start from the position that you won’t buy anything over the phone. By being naturally suspicious whenever someone calls to try to sell you something you’re less likely to be persuaded that the offer they’re making is genuine.
3. Be careful when you’re supplying bank details
If you’re asked to provide your bank details, even by someone you know and trust – don’t send all the details by the same method. Instead, split up the information – for example, the account number and sort code – and use two different means of sending them. So, send the account number by text and the sort code by email.
4. Never click on links
Even simply clicking on a link in an email could lay you open to scammers. By doing so you could allow a scammer to take control of your computer. Then they’ll call you claiming to be from a computer company advising you that you’ve been hacked and charging you to sort out the problem.
Even if the message comes from a person or company you ostensibly know, double check the email address is legitimate and not just a series of random letters and numbers before engaging with it.
5. Be wary when you’re buying anything online
Online shopping makes life easier, but it can raise serious security issues.
If you’re shopping online and planning to use a company that aren’t well known, do some research into them first, such as doing a simple Google search or reading online reviews.
Always check that their website is encrypted. You can verify this because it’ll have a padlock symbol next to the web address.
6. Slow down
One of the best ways to protect yourself from being scammed is to deliberately slow down. Scammers often take advantage of you rushing decisions, so by asking for time and checking all the details, you could easily prevent yourself from falling victim to a scam.
If you’re approached by someone claiming to be from your bank, Black Swan, or another financial institution, don’t agree to anything without checking first. A quick call to us, for example, will confirm whether something you’re being asked to do is legitimate.
7. Protect your passwords
Make sure you keep your passwords safe and update them regularly. Try to use a different password format for different sites, rather than just a variation on a theme.
8. Protect elderly friends and family members
Scammers prey on older people. If you have elderly relatives or friends, warn them about every scam you read about. You might also want to forward this email to them, and show them our videos.
If you’re concerned, impress on them the importance of not buying anything from a cold-caller and help them with online purchases.
9. Remember the golden rule
Scammers will often try to tempt you with a high “guaranteed” investment return on your money. The golden rule to always have in mind is that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
10. Look through our videos!
All modesty aside, we think our new videos are really helpful. We would recommend you take a look through them as we’re sure you’ll find some information you weren’t aware of that can help you protect yourself from financial scammers.
Get in touch
If you would like to talk to us about financial scams, or think you might have been targeted yourself, please get in touch.
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact your adviser on 020 3828 8100.
This article is for information only. Please do not act based on anything you might read in this article. All contents are based on our understanding of HMRC legislation, which is subject to change.