Protecting yourself from scams and identity theft
Thursday 25th May, 2023
Sadly more people than ever are coming across financial scams. Scams can come in many forms, but all are designed to get hold of your money. Scammers do this by getting you to reveal your personal details, stealing your information or even tricking you into willingly handing over your savings.
Knowing what to look out for is one of the best ways to protect yourself. Here are some examples that should put you on your guard:
- Unsolicited or unexpected contact – if someone contacts you out of the blue, especially by phone, to discuss money, don’t respond. There’s now a legal ban on cold calling for pensions, so you should never be contacted unless you’ve requested it.
- Delete dodgy emails - Expand the pane at the top of the message to see exactly who it has come from (it could say TV Licensing but if you click or hover over the name it might reveal something different). A scam may have misspellings, random numbers or appear to be from one of your contacts who’s been hacked.
- Text messages – Scammers can make their numbers and messages look like those you trust, such as your bank’s. Just in case, avoid clicking links in text messages, and don’t be afraid to contact the firm directly to check if it’s a real message.
- Quick decisions. If you are pushed into making a decision on the spot, be suspicious. Scammers don’t want you to have time to think about it. Any reputable firm won’t mind if you call back later. Use the phone number quoted on their letters or your card.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The fraudster may guarantee you huge returns, but tell you it is low risk.
- Random competitions, particularly if you don’t remember entering them, should ring alarm bells.
Identity theft is when criminals try to find out your personal details and use them to get loans, credit cards, state benefits, passports and driving licences in your name. If your identity is stolen, you may have trouble getting financial services until the matter is sorted out. Contact the Police immediately. Fortunately you can take some simple steps to protect yourself:
- Always keep your personal papers in a secure place;
- Use a shredder to destroy unwanted bills, receipts, credit or debit card slips, bank statements and unwanted post in your name;
- Check your bank statements and credit card bills promptly and query any items you cannot identify;
- Never give your account details to anyone who contacts you. No bank, building society or credit union will ever ask for your full account number or password, so keep them to yourself;
- Cancel any lost or stolen cards immediately;
- When using a credit card, don’t let other people overhear you or see your card details.
- If you move house, ask Royal Mail to redirect your post for at least a year and give your new address to everyone you deal with.
The Money Helper website has useful advice on what to do when money is stolen from your bank account or your credit/debit card has been used fraudulently.
Friends Against Scams is a National Trading Standards initiative, which aims to empower people to take a stand against scams. By completing the online Friends Against Scams awareness session you’ll learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute financial, legal, or any other form of advice.
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