How to stay safe from scams
Watch our video to learn how to avoid scam calls and investment fraud.
How to stay safe from scams
Fraudsters are always coming up with new ways to try to steal your money. Pretending to be an employee of another company is one of their favourite tricks. We’re going to take a look at a few different ways they carry out this scam, and what you can do to protect yourself. Just choose one of the posters to start.
I had a call from my bank. Jo said there was a problem with my account. A fraudster had got my details and was trying to take my money. Jo said we needed to act fast to move my money to a new account.
At first, I was suspicious. I’d heard about scams like this. So, I asked Jo to prove he was from the bank. “Check the number I’ve called from”, he said. “You’ll see it matches the number on the back of your bank card.” So I did. It was a match.
Suddenly, I was really worried about my money, but Jo was calm and reassuring. He gave me a sort code and account number for a new account so I could move my money and keep it safe.
It took me a while, but Jo stayed on the call as I moved my money. At one point a fraud warning popped up, but Jo said not to worry, it was just a standard warning when moving a large amount of money.
Once everything had gone through okay, Jo explained that it will take 24 hours for them to set up the account and that he’d be back in touch tomorrow on next steps. I was so thankful for his help.
But the next day I didn’t hear from Jo. I wanted to know about my new account and if my money was safe, so I phoned the bank directly to find out what was happening. The bank quickly found my old account, but they had no record of a new account. It didn’t take long for them to realise I’d been scammed. I couldn’t believe it, I’d moved all of my money into a fraudster’s account and was left with nothing! I was devastated.
Another common scam is when a fraudster calls to pretend to be from a genuine company. Their aim is to take control of a person’s device so they can get into their online bank account. To help them make this call, fraudsters will usually have already sent a scam email or text with a link. This link goes to a fake site or pop-up that asks for personal or banking details. And if a person clicks on the link then enters their details, it gives a fraudster all they need to make the scam call and sound genuine.
I got a surprise call from the big online retailer… you know the one. I don’t normally answer calls from numbers I don’t recognise, but I was busy and didn’t think.
A guy called Chris said I’d been mistakenly charged for their streaming service and had a refund waiting. I didn’t use that service, so it seemed to make sense.
To get the refund, Chris said I had to download some software so they could take control of my screen and make the process easier for me.
He quickly sent an email with a link to the download. I clicked the link - and it only took a few seconds to give Chris control.
Never let anyone take control of your device. You should only ever download something when you’re speaking to someone you’ve called for help on a number you trust.
I watched as Chris set up the refund. But then he told me I had to log on to my online banking and enter a code he’d give me. I did as Chris said, and there it was, I could see the money in my account. It was easy and all done in a matter of minutes.
What I didn’t know, and what I found out later, was Chris was a fraudster. I’d given him control of my device and my online bank account. He moved money from my account to his own, cleaning me out. I couldn’t believe it - I’d even approved the payment by using the code he gave.
Scams calls like these are common. It doesn’t matter if a fraudster pretends to be your bank or a company, the impact of this scam can be very serious.
Fraudsters can copy numbers to make it look like they’re calling from a genuine company. We’ll never call you from the number on the back of your card.
Remember, your bank will never call to tell you to move money to another account. And they’ll never get in touch to ask for your personal or online banking details.
You should never share banking codes. Treat these like your PIN and keep them safe.
And a genuine company wouldn’t get in touch to take control of your device even if they did owe you a refund.
If you ever get a call that doesn’t feel right, hang up. You can always call the person or company on a number you can trust to make sure it’s not a scam.
So let’s see how a typical investment scam works…
I’ve not been going out or spending as much recently, so I managed to save some money. You know, enough for a rainy day. I’d say I was pretty clued up when it comes to saving and investing. I’ve bought shares and made other investments before. So, I started to look around online… just to see what I could find.
I found a site online that looked pretty good. They had some investment deals with amazing rates. All I had to do was fill in my details to get a call back. So I did. A few days later, I got a call from Neil, one of their advisers.
He introduced himself and the company he works at. I’d heard of the company, so knew I’d be in good hands.
He asked me about my goals - what I was saving for, what kind of returns I was after, that sort of thing. Then, he explained that he’d searched the market and found an even better deal than the one I’d spotted earlier. But I had to act fast as the deal would be gone very soon.
While we chatted, Neil sent me an email with all the details. All I had to do was give him the go ahead and set up a payment. I went for it.
A few days later, after Neil had sent log on details for my account, I checked my investment. It all looked good. Over the next few months, I’d log on now and again to check how things were going. It was all going as planned, my investment was growing, and I was getting interest payments straight into my current account.
After a while, I thought it’d be a good idea to contact Neil to see where I was up to… maybe take my money out and do something else with it. But my calls went to a deadline and my emails came back unanswered. So, I looked up the company’s contact details and called them directly to talk to Neil. Only.... when I got put through, he sounded different and was very confused. He had no idea who I was and no record of my investment.
So, what happened? Our customer fell for a common investment scam - a fraudster had posed as a genuine investment adviser at a well-known firm. What could they have done differently? And what should you look out for if you want to invest?
The website seemed genuine to the customer, but there are certain warning signs you should look out for.
Check that it’s spelt correctly. If you’re not sure, type it directly into the browser bar at the top of your screen.
The pages may not look right, with different colours, logos and spelling or grammar mistakes.
There should be details on how to get in touch, including an address, a business telephone number and even social media links.
If you can’t find the same offer anywhere else, it’s usually a scam.
A great way to make sure a company or adviser is genuine is to visit the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website. On the FCA site, you can find a list of all the companies who can offer investments. This also gives you all their contact details.
Fraudsters can copy a genuine company’s website. So you should always use the website address on the FCA. The screen shows the FCA website, and a mouse clicking on a link.
If you’re contacted by somebody who offers you an investment deal, use the FCA website to check them out. Make sure they’re a genuine adviser from a regulated company. And get their contact details from the FCA so you can be confident of getting in touch with them.
Call the company and ask to speak to the adviser. Use the advisers name from the original call and always check to see if the offer is genuine.
Remember, if you can’t find a deal being offered anywhere else, it’s probably a scam. Do some more research yourself. Talk to your family and friends. And ask to see documents and other evidence that prove a deal is genuine.
These scams may be different on the surface, but they share many of the tricks fraudsters can use. They want to panic people or put them under pressure to stop them thinking clearly and see through the scam. In all these scams, there are obvious red flags, things that should raise suspicion. But you need a clear head to see them.
When it comes to your money, always take your time. Only a fraudster would try to hurry or pressure you into making a decision. A genuine adviser or company would never do this.
So what can you do to keep yourself and your money safe?
If you ever get a call out of the blue from someone who claims to be from your bank, hang up. You can always call your bank on a number you trust to check everything is ok. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Fraudsters want you to talk to them so they can win your trust. The more you talk and listen to a fraudster, the harder it is to hang up. To keep your money safe, just hang up.
Your bank will never call to tell you to move money to another account. And they’d never call to ask you to log on to your internet banking account. You shouldn’t do this for anyone who calls.
And you should be very careful with any downloads. Unless you called for help., a genuine company will never ask you to download anything that gives them control of your device. Only a fraudster would do this. If you get a call like this, hang up.
To find out more on how to stay safe from scams, visit Protect yourself from fraud.