Our 10 step plan to never be conned again

Financial fraudsters are out in force and coming up with sophisticated scams to steal your money.

A shocking £145million was stolen in the first six months of this year by crooks who persuaded people to transfer funds into dodgy accounts.

But just £31million of that was refunded to victims, leaving countless people with shattered lives.

That’s why it’s vital we all do everything we can to protect our hard-earned cash from thieves.

Here’s how you can help stop the scammers…

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Financial scams – How to stay safe

  • Tips to avoid pension scams
  • Fake holiday websites
  • HMRC tax rebate text scam
  • Card dangers
  • Student loan scams
  • Contactless card dangers
  • Scams that steal your savings
  • Rental scams

1. Cons

The reason so many people get caught out is fraudsters keep changing their methods, with clever and very believable scams that can be difficult to spot.

They try every way to catch people out with cold calls, emails and texts, pretending to be from official bodies such as banks, building societies, credit card firms and the taxman – and send out correspondence complete with official logos. They set up bogus websites selling everything from holidays to cars and fake investments.

People are lured in via social media with too-good-to-miss deals on products such as mobiles and computers. They also cash in on data breaches at high profile firms by impersonating officials just after a hack has taken place to try and catch customers off their guard.

However convincing someone sounds it’s best to be cautious and always double check before transferring money anywhere.

2. Calls

Hang up on cold calls immediately. Don’t simply rely on ID caller as robbers can spoof telephone numbers to look like they are calling from a trusted number.

If you think your bank may be trying to contact you or you want to double check something, call using the number on your bank card or on their official website.

Use a different telephone to the one the cold call came in on. Crooks often remain on the line after people hang up and will then pretend to be the bank or organisation you are trying to call.

A call isn’t fully disconnected until the caller puts the phone down.

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Scams to watch out for

  • The ‘caught speeding’ scam
  • The texts that look real
  • EHIC and DVLA scammers
  • 4 dangerous WhatsApp scams
  • Fake supermarket coupons
  • SIM-splitting scams – how they work
  • Fake ‘council tax refund’ emails
  • NHS scams

3. Emails

Be wary of emails and never click on links in them.

Double check the sender’s address matches the genuine website address of organisations by rolling your mouse pointer over the sender’s name to reveal it’s true identity.

Other telltale signs an email is dodgy include spelling and grammatical errors, if they don’t contain your proper name, ie they are addressed to Dear customer.

And always be cautious of emails with vague details like a PO Box address or mobile only telephone number.

4. Texts

Don’t believe that a text is always from a genuine organisation.

Rogues have found a way to send texts that appear in the same chain of messages as those from say your bank or building society.

These often contain links that will take you to a fake website to get you to disclose personal and financial information.

Or they give out bogus telephone numbers. Always type in official website addresses from scratch and only call firms on numbers you know are genuine.

5. Remote

Do not allow someone remote access to your computer following a cold call. Don’t log on to banking if someone is remotely connected to your computer.

And never do online banking or carry out financial transactions over free WiFi connections – such as on trains or in cafes.

6. Transfers

One of the key ways fraudsters lure people into transferring cash into rogue accounts is by pretending they are from a person’s bank or an official body such as the police.

They explain cash needs to be moved for safety reasons.

Banks or the police will never get you to transfer money to a new account because of suspected fraud on your account.

7. Speed

Don’t be rushed into anything. A genuine organisation will not mind if you double check the person you are speaking to is who they say they are.

Last chance bargain deals and limited time offers that pressure you into taking immediate action should set alarm bells ringing. Stop, think and double check.

While it might take a little longer to make transactions and to log into accounts, always opt for two-step verification when you can.

That means you get a text message when you try to log in to accounts somewhere new. And that will prevent fraudsters getting into your accounts without having access to your mobile phone too.

How to spot a suspicious text message

  • You should be suspicious of clicking any link in a text that asks you to ‘verify’ or update your account details.
  • If you’re suspicious of a text message asking you to get in touch with your bank, only call a number that you know is genuine (such as the one on the back of your card).

  • Remember that a genuine text or call from your bank will never ask you to transfer money from your own account to a new one for ‘fraud reasons’, or ask you for your four digit pin.

8. Details

Never give out personal information, account details or security information such as passwords or PINs.

Your bank or any other organisation such as the police or HMRC will never ask for these in full.

9. Devices

Make sure you install anti-virus software on your computer and keep it updated. Help secure mobile devices with security measures such as fingerprints and codes.

Choose passwords that are difficult to guess – using a mix of upper and lower case letter, numbers and punctuation marks – and don’t use the same passwords for more than one account.

10. Doubts

If in doubt contact Action Fraud via actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 204. They might know of a scam in your area and your report could help stop others getting hit.

You can check if a financial firm is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority on it’s register at fca.org.uk/register.

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