Top Tips to Protect Yourself From Scams

April 2020
Top Tips to Protect Yourself From Scams
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Scams and fraud are nothing new, but with many important financial transactions now taking place digitally the perpetrators are finding new ways to try and steal our hard-earned cash. And it’s a huge problem. According to industry regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) the victims of pension scams alone lost an average of £91,000 each in 2017 [1].

The Government has recognised the problem and has taken steps to resolve it, including the introduction of a ban on pensions cold-calling which took effect on 9th January 2019. The ban prohibits unsolicited calls, texts and emails so if you are contacted unexpectedly by a company or person you don’t know and they offer you a ‘free pension review’ or a way of making very attractive returns from your pension alarm bells should be ringing.

But it’s not only pension pots that are targeted by scammers so here’s our top tips for spotting and avoiding scams:

  1. Beware of the unexpected
    Remember, scammers aren’t only after your cash – your personal information is also highly valuable. If you receive an unsolicited phone call, text or email which asks for money to be transferred, for personal details, PIN numbers or passwords don’t click on any links or provide any information. Make sure you shred old paperwork and be careful about the information you share on social media.
  2. Do your research
    If you think that the message you’ve received could be genuine (for example it’s from a company you’re a customer of) but it asks for personal information or money, you should contact them on a number you trust to check its authenticity. This also applies if a friend recommends a scheme or investment, even if you’re both financially savvy you should do your own homework.
  3. Looks too good to be true?
    It probably is. Scammers often try to lure you in with phrases like ‘one-off opportunity’, ‘loop-hole’, ‘guaranteed returns’ and may try to rush you into making payments. The FCA’s Scamsmart website includes a tool where you can check whether the opportunity you’re considering is a known scam, as well as some useful tips for spotting and avoiding scams
  4. Make sure your adviser is registered
    If you’re being offered or are seeking financial advice, you can check the FCA register to make sure that the person or business is properly authorised by the industry regulator. Most financial products in the UK can only be offered by businesses and individuals who are appropriately authorised, registered or approved by this organisation.
  5. If you think you’ve been scammed – act quickly
    Speak to your bank or product provider as soon as possible, stop any Direct Debit you may have set up, send no further money or personal information. Even if you’ve signed paperwork to transfer your pension your provider may be able to stop the process if it hasn’t yet been completed. You can also report scams to Action Fraud online or by phone on 0300 123 2040.

Protective Registration
If you have already been the victim of fraud you can apply for Protective Registration from CIFAS - a not for profit organisation and leading UK fraud prevention service. Protective Registration costs £20 for two years and works by placing a flag alongside your personal details on the National Fraud Database. If an application is made to a company or organisation who is signed up to the database they will see that you are at risk and take extra steps to protect you. This usually means making extra checks on your identity and makes it harder for fraudsters to use your details. You should be aware that the extra checks are likely to make the application process take longer than normal.

Be vigilant
Fraudsters and scammers are always evolving their techniques and can be extremely convincing. To stay one step ahead of them you’ll need to be vigilant, keep a close eye on your bank accounts and report any suspicious or unfamiliar transactions. Keep our top tips in mind and for more useful information take a look at the websites of Money Advice Service or Citizens Advice.

Please remember, no news or research item is a recommendation or advice to buy. LEBC Group Ltd is not responsible for accuracy and may not share the author’s views. If you are unsure of the suitability of any investment or product for your circumstances, please contact an adviser. All investments can fall as well as rise in value, so you could get back less than you invest. All information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations. Any levels and bases of, and reliefs from, taxation, are subject to change. Taxation advice is not regulated by the FCA.

[1] The pension cold calling ban, Holly Thomas, Saga online, 11 January 2019

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