I was reading a report a few days ago about the extent of financial fraud in the UK. The report was produced by UK Finance – a trade body representing over 300 companies in the UK Banking and Finance sector. What is clear is that financial fraud has now become so sophisticated that anyone of us, if we are honest, could be caught out by a scam of some kind or have been. I nearly fell for the ‘parcel delivery’ scam a couple of months ago. I’d ordered something online and a day later had a notification that a parcel was awaiting delivery and to give some personal information to check on its progress. The criminals behind these scams are organised ruthless people who are constantly adapting their methods to take advantage of how we live today.
Over the past year we have worked from home, been in lockdown, isolating, and relied more on online services. As a result, these organisations have focussed less on scams through the banking system, which is doing its best in implementing ever tighter security with some success – £1.6bn of unauthorised fraud losses were stopped in 2020, and instead turning to a sophisticated targeting of people directly. There have been increases in fraud around impersonating broadband providers, HMRC, utility providers, the posting of fake jobs adverts promising ‘easy money’, fake documentation from Government Departments, parcel delivery companies and even organisations pretending to be the NHS. Scammers tend to focus on phone calls and in recent years a move towards email communications.
What can we do?
I know some people who will avoid using computers for this very reason – which I guess is a solution, but not a particularly satisfactory one. However, are there other things we can do?
Cold Call – If a telephone call comes out of the blue, from an organisation you have not heard from before or one you wouldn’t expect to hear from over the phone like HMRC or your Bank, then there is a good chance it is not legitimate. Don’t give out any personal information to them and more than likely the best option is to hang up. If it was legitimate, then the organisation will find another way of contacting you. Maybe use the Telephone Preference Service or explore ‘Call Screening’ where someone calling has to announce who they are before you agree to take the call.
Message in your inbox – Similar to the cold call. Ask yourself if this is the first time you have had an email from the organisation? Is it unusual to do so? Are they saying you owe them money, or you are owed money? If so be very wary. Open up Google or other search engine and type the name of the organisation in and the word scam and see what responses you get. Remember you are not the only person to have received the email, and if it is a scam, then the internet will tell you so. NEVER click on a link.
Be careful where you are told any of the following:
- You owe money,
- You are due money,
- You could make money,
- You have to take action quickly or by a deadline,
- There is an offer or a ‘free’ service.
- About investing in something unusual
- You will miss out on something.
If you can, speak to a friend or family member about it. Share your concern, nobody will think the worse of you as most of us have been taken in by something at some point in our lives.
Author: Phil James, Grosvenor Consultancy Ltd
Please be aware that the above does not constitute financial advice. We recommend that you consider your existing investments, pensions and financial arrangements and then take advice. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice and some forms of offshore investments. The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past Performance is no guide to future performance.
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