Financial fraud – how to spot it and how to beat it
05/09/16 A startling figure for you: last year, £755 million was lost by British consumers to financial fraudsters.
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), which revealed this data, also reckons that more than three-quarters of all scammers are either operating via cold-calls or online methods.
Around 57% of those cases were phone calls, with the rest being via email or other forms of online contact. But what are the most common scams, and what can you do to protect yourself against them?
According to the FOS, these are the most common types of scam:
Upfront payment fees
When scammers ask you to pay fees to release compensation payouts or loans, and traders disappearing after payments are made.
Fake services or invoices
This includes charges to remove fake computer viruses and fake advertising invoices being sent to small businesses.
Goods not being received
Purchases made through social media or auction websites, where the scammers are private sellers or based abroad can leave you out of pocket.
These are phone calls where the scammers attempt to get sensitive financial info from you, such as credit or debit card details to renew a subscription, or for information about personal debts.
This is where people are misled into signing up for subscription services, usually with a free or discounted trial – and scammers then take multiple large payments, often changing their company name to throw you off the scent.
The tricks of the scammer
However they present themselves to you, scammers will always use a certain set of tricks, generally focused on making you believe something’s gone wrong, that you are out of control, and that they can put you back in control. These are the hallmarks of the ‘confidence trickster’.
Personal details: Info about you is everywhere. So thanks to social media, the fraudster can easily get hold of your address, name, number. If they’ve illegally obtained personal data, through spyware on your phone tablet or computer or by other means, they could have even more.
Making you act and panic: Scammers tell you that your cash could be at risk – and making people panic can make them take rash action.
Trick numbers: A realistic-sounding number makes you more likely to pick up the phone.
Holding the line: A classic trick. If you hang up to call back the bank, but they stay on the line, you can end up talking back to the scam team.
A basic rule of thumb – if anybody asks you to do something ‘different’ from normal, be suspicious. For example, no bank will ever ask you to transfer money to a different ‘new’ account. A bank will never need secret personal details such as a password or PIN to block a card or a suspect payment. And if a trader asks to use an unusual payment method that doesn’t prove proper protection, be suspicious.
If you’ve got any queries about an email, a phone call or any other transaction with any of your regular service providers, you should get in touch with them (you can do this via www.Resolver.co.uk and keep a record of your correspondence).
Account theft is a crime and therefore will be taken very seriously. A reason to suspect account theft might be extremely high bills. If you suspect that theft has occurred, you should report the matter to your mobile provider and to the police immediately. Your mobile provider will be able to advise you what to do next.
Scam emails or texts
Scam emails and texts are annoying and a potential financial pitfall. If you have received such an email or text you should report it to your mobile supplier. They should assure you that they will look into the matter and ensure that you do not incur any on-going costs. If the activity is fraudulent you may also want to contact the Police.