No matter how careful you are with your money, it’s surprisingly easy to become a victim of financial fraud. Scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated as banks and other organisations tighten up their security systems.Losing money to financial fraud can be devastating, but you can protect yourself and your hard-earned cash by being aware of the latest scams, and knowing how to avoid falling for them. The key message is to stop, Take Five and remember, ‘My money? My info? I don’t think so!
Here are some of the most common scams to watch out for.
1. Sharing your details
This is when a scammer manages to get hold of your personal and financial details. They can then use those details to steal money from you.
Kate,** a freelance picture editor, discovered that sometimes a convincing phone call is enough to persuade you to share information.
‘I like to think of myself as savvy when it comes to managing my money. I know down to the last penny how much I’ve spent and what’s in my bank account,’ Kate says. ‘So I never thought I’d be a victim of fraud.
‘I’d just got a new deal on my phone, from a new provider. So I wasn’t surprised when I had a call claiming to be from the provider’s customer services team. The man sounded very polite and businesslike, and asked if I was happy with my new deal, and whether I’d had any network problems.
‘He then said he would check my direct debit details, allegedly to make sure I was paying the right amount each month.
‘He already knew the last four digits of my account number, so without thinking, I confirmed the rest of the number and my sort code.’
Once she’d shared these details, the caller quickly ended the conversation.
Kate found this surprising, and felt increasingly uneasy.
‘I rang the provider myself, only to be told they hadn’t called me,’ Kate recalls. ‘Really worried, I checked my bank account, only to find someone had already spent £50 at a DIY store using my details!’
Kate immediately cancelled her card, and thankfully her bank refunded her the money.
To avoid this type of scam, it’s vital to be aware that a genuine bank or organisation will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, card details or full password. Only give out personal or financial details to a service that you’re expecting to contact you, that you’ve given your consent to, and that you trust.
2. Moving money
With this type of fraud, you are asked by someone who claims to be from a bank or organisation to urgently move your money into a new account. They may claim there has been fraudulent activity on your account and you need to move accounts to protect it. Once you have moved the money, the scammers can access it.
Remember that a bank or company will never ask you to move your money to a new account to keep it ‘safe’ from fraudulent activity. Nor would you be asked by service providers such as solicitors to transfer large sums into a different account from the one you are expecting to use.
Be extremely wary of any attempt by a bank or company to change your payment details. If in doubt, call the company yourself to check, using a known phone number or email address.
3. Clicking on links
These scams can happen on your phone, or via email or pop-up ads. You receive an unsolicited message including a link, which you are invited to click on. The link leads you to a fake website where you type in your personal or financial details, allowing scammers to steal from you.
One common scam tempts you to read an email with a subject line like: Your TV Licensing refund.
Believing you are due a refund from an official body, you then click on a link in the email and are transferred to a fake website.
Other phishing scams may claim you have been caught speeding and must pay a fine online.
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Never click on links in texts, emails or pop-up ads. By hovering over a link (without clicking) you’ll be able to see its true destination.
Always be suspicious when you are urged to act quickly, or told to fill in personal details. And be cautious if a message says anything like ‘Refund due’.
If you’re ever in doubt, Take Five and remember: ‘My Money? My info? I don’t think so.It’s the easiest way to protect yourself from financial fraud.
- Take Five to Stop Fraud is a national campaign from Financial Fraud Action UK and the UK Government, backed by the banking industry.
* Source: Financial Fraud Action UK data 2016
** Name changed to protect identity