Protect yourself from fraud
Steps to protect yourself from fraudsters and financial scams during the coronavirus pandemic
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, there has sadly been an increase in the number of fraudsters exploiting people’s fears - targeting pension savers, investors and online consumers.
At Close Brothers Asset Management, we will never ask you to transfer your money or investments to another account or ‘safe-haven’ product. Neither will we ask you for your bank account details as a means of identifying you, or ask you for any passwords. Anyone can be targeted for fraud, so here we outline some steps from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to help protect you from becoming a victim of fraud or a scam.
Current tactics fraudsters and scammers might use during the coronavirus pandemic
- We have been alerted to a series of fixed rate investment scams that have taken place recently. Criminal organisations have impersonated a number of firms proposing financial products, such as investment bonds offering an attractive, but not suspiciously high, return of around 3-5% per annum. As many are fixed income bonds paying quarterly dividends, the victim is often not alerted to the scam until the first payment fails to materialise.
- Use of fraudulent, and possibly some genuine, ‘impartial’ price comparison websites to generate interest from members of the public. Some of these opportunities can be found via sponsored links on Google or Facebook.
- Use of email addresses which resemble those of staff at legitimate firms and in some cases have used the names of genuine members of staff.
- Exploiting short-term financial concerns, scammers may ask you to hand over an upfront fee – usually between £25 and £450 – when applying for a loan or credit that you never get. This is known as loan fee fraud or advance fee fraud.
- ‘Good cause’ scams. This is where investment is sought for good causes such as the production of sanitiser, manufacture of personal protection equipment (PPE) or new drugs to treat coronavirus – with scammers using the promise of high returns to entice consumers.
- Using the uncertainty around stockmarkets, scammers may advise you to invest or transfer existing investments into non-standard investments.
- Scammers may contact you claiming to be from a Claims Management Company (CMC), insurance company or your credit card provider. They may say they can help you recuperate losses by submitting a claim, for the cost of a holiday or event such as a wedding cancelled due to coronavirus. They will ask you to send them some money or your bank details.
- Cold calls, emails, texts or WhatsApp messages stating that your bank is in trouble due to the coronavirus crisis, and pushing you to transfer your money to a new bank with alternative banking details.
Fraudsters are using the details of FCA-authorised firms to try and convince consumers that they work for a genuine, authorised firms. These fraudulent firms are known as “clone firms”.
Fraudsters usually use this tactic when contacting people unexpectedly, so you should be especially wary if you have been ‘cold called’ or if you are contacted upon expressing interest in a Close Brothers Asset Management product on a third-party website. They may use the name of genuine Close Brothers Group companies, including the 'firm reference number' (FRN) issued by the FCA or other details.
An example of clone firm details which fraudsters are using or providing as part of their tactics to defraud people can be viewed at www.fca.org.uk/news/warnings/close-brothers-limited-clone-fca-authorised-firm
How to protect yourself
- Use the Financial Services Register and Warning List to check who you are dealing with.
- Reject offers that come out of the blue.
- Beware of adverts on social media channels and paid for/sponsored adverts online.
- Do not click links or open emails from senders you don't already know.
- Avoid being rushed or pressured into making a decision.
- If a firm calls you unexpectedly, use the contact details on the Register to check that you’re dealing with the genuine firm.
- Do not give out personal details (bank details, address, existing insurance/pensions/investment details).
How we help protect our clients
We take cyber security and protecting our clients very seriously. Our cyber defences are regularly tested to confirm their efficiency, our systems are continuously monitored for sign of malicious activity and combined with our 24/7 alerting system, we can act in a timely manner to any perceived threats.
If you are contacted by someone who you think could be impersonating Close Brothers Asset Management, please cease communicating with them and contact us for clarification or to investigate further.
Where can I find more information?
If you’d like to find out more about what you can do to reduce the risks of fraud, visit one of the following websites:
- Action Fraud: Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced cybercrime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- Take Five to Stop Fraud: The Government and UK Finance-led “Take Five to Stop Fraud” campaign website also contains lots of useful information and offers straightforward, impartial advice that helps prevent email, phone-based and online fraud – particularly where criminals impersonate trusted organisations.
- The Met Police
- Read more about fraud prevention from Close Brothers