Financial scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Some scammers mimic official telephone numbers, which can make it seem like a call is genuine. They can also manipulate email addresses to make you think an email is from a real organisation. Being aware of scams and knowing what to look out for – is an important part of financial safety.
What do these scams look like?
Common scams, designed to gain access to your personal details, include:
- A call from someone claiming to be your bank, asking for your PIN or account details
- An email, text or call telling you you’ve won a competition – but you have to give personal details to get your prize
- Phishing: Emails that look like they come from a legitimate company – but are designed to steal your personal details or install viruses onto your computer
- Catfishing: When a scammer uses social media or dating apps to connect with someone, gain their trust – then ask for money
What can you do to protect yourself?
There are a number of steps you can take to keep yourself – and your finances – safe:
- Never give out personal information – such as your name, address, email, phone number or bank details – to an organisation unless you’re sure that they are legitimate
- If you have an unsolicited call asking for personal information, contact the company directly using the contact details on their official website – don’t ask them for a number to call back on
- Banks and other financial institutions will never send an email asking you to click on links or confirm your bank details. If you are ever unsure about an email, call your bank
- Equally, your bank will never ask you for details over the phone – so if you get a call from someone claiming to be your bank, ring the number on the back of your bank card to check it’s legitimate
- If you get an email or text from someone you don’t know – or that seems suspicious – don’t click on any links or downloads
- Keep any letters containing your bank details in a safe place. If you need to get rid of them, shred them and make sure any copies of your personal information have been destroyed
- If you notice something unexpected on your credit card statement, get in touch with your bank immediately
- Some scammers deliberately target people they believe are vulnerable – for example, by searching public records to see when deaths have been registered.They then target bereaved people, who they believe may not be thinking as clearly as normal
So remember, if something doesn’t feel right, question it. If you receive a communication out of the blue that looks too good to be true – it probably is. And if you’re going through bereavement or any other type of stressful, life-changing time, don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion from friends, family and advice charities.
What if you're a victim of a scam?
If you’ve been the victim of a financial scam, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. Contact your bank and other financial providers – who will be able to advise you on what to do next. And report what happened to Action Fraud. They may be able to track down the scammer and prevent them from harming anyone else.