Scams have always existed, however through the increased use of social media and online accounts scams have become far more common and, often times, harder to spot.
We’re happy to report that none of our clients have been affected by any of the scams mentioned, however it’s important to remain vigilant.
In this article, we offer some advice on how to spot a scam and ways to check if it is a genuine offer.
How do the scammers get my information?
Data is widely available for sale, with databases often sold on from all kinds of establishments from phone companies to insurance providers to holiday agents. These databases are available to pretty much anyone who is willing to pay for them. Ticking the “no contact” and “no third parties” options on any forms you complete is a good way of limiting the number of databases you appear on. Also, depending on the scale of the scam, experts are employed to hack into databases and steal the data. And sometimes, it’s just pot luck.
How to spot a scam and avoid it
- You’re likely aware of the scam phone call where someone claims to be from your bank. If you don’t have an account with the quoted bank, then it’s more obvious to spot that it’s likely to be a scam. But eventually they will come across someone who does have that account, and may believe it’s a genuine call from their bank. Here, we would recommend ending the conversation, and ringing your bank directly on the usual customer contact number. Don’t use the number supplied by the caller. If it is a genuine call from your bank, the caller will not mind you ending the conversation.
- We have personally received similar calls from someone pertaining to be from our broadband supplier, stating there has been unusual activity reported via our router. They then direct you to a website, often a legitimate screen-sharing or file transfer site, the end result being that your activity and passwords can be recorded. The interesting thing about this particular attempt, is that broadband providers rarely, if ever, make such calls. Again, our advice here would be to end the call and ring your provider directly on the usual customer advice number if you are in any doubt.
- Many scams are now sent via email invitations to click a link, which in turn downloads spyware to your computer, which records regular activity and passwords. These can often be harder to spot, as they mask email addresses to look very close to genuine. Here, especially if the email is unexpected, we would recommend closing the email, and logging in directly to your relevant account, without using any links in the email. If the email looks like it’s from a friend, but is only a photo or a link without your usual conversation, try calling them or email them directly in a new email to check.
We’ve recently been made aware whereby a client of another financial advice company fell foul of an email scam. The client was contacted by email about a new high interest deposit account, suggesting it may be of interest. Of course, in these times, high interest would be very appealing. The ‘senders’ email address had been masked to look very similar to the genuine email address of the client’s actual adviser. This only became clear it was a scam some months later, when the client made a passing comment to their adviser about receiving no paperwork yet. The adviser confirmed not having made such a recommendation or issuing any emails about the account in question. Unfortunately, by this time the client had already ‘deposited’ several large sums into the account, none of which were protected against this type of fraud.
These scams can be harder to spot. We will never contact you about a new investment or account by email, without a prior meeting or phone call with your financial planner. If you’re ever in doubt, or don’t recognise the name of the person calling, then hang up and call us directly on the office number.
In summary, we would always recommend:
- End any unsolicited calls straight away and phone your bank or provider back on their usual customer service number, not a number supplied by the caller.
- Don’t click on any links or files in emails that you’re not absolutely sure of. Log in to your bank or provider portal directly, using your usual app or web address. Do not use the link in the email.
- We will never contact you by email to suggest an investment into a new company or account. If you’re ever in doubt, or don’t recognise the name of the person calling, then hang up and call us directly on the office number.
You can call us on 01869 331469 if you have any concerns.
This content is for information and inspiration purposes only. It should not be taken as financial or investment advice. To receive personalised, regulated financial advice regarding your affairs please consult us here at WMM (financial planning in Oxfordshire).