Five ways to keep yourself safe from scammers

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Scammers. They are those people who send emails claiming to be a disposed businessman, a prince driven from their home or some politician running from their past. They have a fortune and they’re willing to split it with you, as long as you pay them to complete the transfer…

We’ve all seen emails similar to this and we are unlikely to fall for them. But not all scams are as easy to see through as others. In fact, according to UK Finance, in the first half of 2020 alone, up to £207.8 million was lost to scammers convincing everyday people to send them money by bank transfer.

One of the best ways to avoid a scam is to be aware of what it can look like. So, we’ve pulled together a list of some of the most common scams going around so you’ll know what to look out for, just like that one from the businessman/prince/politician.

Purchase scams

Ever scrolled through your newsfeed or been searching for something and suddenly you come across the deal of the century? We’ve all been there.

Sadly, scammers know that insanely low prices for usually expensive items, such as designer clothing, AirPods or vehicles will attract a high number of potential victims. If it sounds too good to be true, chances are it probably is.

These types of scammers will often tell you that they can’t accept PayPal or card transactions. This is likely because those methods offer you more protection than bank transfers. It pays to be cautious — check their reviews and the comments others make on their posts and be wary if they ask you to pay by bank transfer.

People impersonation scams

It can be dreadful and jarring to receive a message from a friend, family member or colleague telling you they’re in desperate need of help. But it’s when they ask you to urgently make a payment to a new account of theirs that you need to stop and ask questions.

It’s quite easy for scammers to impersonate people you know. They may hack their social media account, or simply create a duplicate using someone’s profile picture. If you do receive a message like this, reach out to the person on a different platform or on the phone to check in with them.

Bank impersonation or ‘safe account’ scams

But scammers aren’t just impersonating individuals — they’re pretending to be institutions as well (such as banks, police, HMRC). Some even have tech that lets them spoof phone numbers, making this claim look legit.

You may get a call or text from someone claiming to be from your bank or the police telling you your account has been compromised. They’ll likely tell you to urgently move your money to a safe account.

First off, no bank will EVER contact you to make a payment, so if your ‘bank’ does this, assume it’s a scam. Just end the call and reach out to your bank yourself. And never share any personal details or one-time codes.

Investment scam

“Invest £100 and double your money”. Who doesn’t want their money making even more money for them? As with other scams, if it sounds too good to be true, chances are it is.

Investment scammers will target individuals and advertise very high returns in exchange for you handing over your cash. Typically, they will contact you on social media or they may clone the websites of real investment firms. They may ask you to invest in assets such as cryptocurrency, precious metals or property.

Always do your own research- a genuine investment firm will be registered on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) authorised firm register. Be careful of unsolicited approaches online or by phone call.

Romance scam

According to the Office of National Statistics, 2.6 million adults in Great Britain said they felt lonely “often” or “always” between 3 April and 3 May 2020. Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of people’s loneliness and target those who are vulnerable.

They may try to build an emotional connection very quickly. But their only intention is to steal your personal information, identity or to ask for your money. They may tell you they urgently need money for an emergency or that they’re stranded. You should always be cautious of sending money to someone you’ve never met. Take some time to check their social media profile and photos.

Raphaelina Arthur,
Head of Financial Crime & Deputy MLRO

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