Barely a day goes by without frontpage headlines about scams. A new type of scam, an unbelievable amount lost to scammers, life savings gone in a flash, Ponzi schemes, investments guaranteeing huge returns – we’ve all seen them and had the emails, texts and phone calls.
It’s a scary environment but working with a financial adviser can protect you.
Depressingly, scamming is now big business. In fact, some scammers are even offering scam ‘tips’ on social media to people looking to rip off others. It’s a crisis and the authorities have been slow to act, which is hardly surprising given the sophistication of some scams and markets such as cryptocurrencies falling outside the remit of the regulator for so long.
What’s more, encryption on social media through WhatsApp and other instant messaging services means the ability to investigate and prosecute criminals is hampered. The alternative is to open up these means of communication to the authorities, which in turn sparks debate about a snooper’s charter and the right to privacy. It’s a complicated space with no easy fix.
As financial advisers, we’re also targeted with phishing emails on a regular basis. Some are so bad it would funny if it wasn’t so serious, but others are remarkably accurate in their appearance and instructions. Things have come a long way from the ‘displaced royal’ looking for a convenient home for $10m, which just happens to be your bank account.
The point is, being scammed is very easily done but by shutting down unsolicited approaches and asking your adviser whether an approach you receive is legitimate, you have a good chance of staying clear of the scammers. We are regularly trained on the signs of cybercrime and cybersecurity and we can also check registers for firms’ permissions.
Always bear these points in mind:
- If it’s too good to be true it usually is – even more so in this environment
- Never give out personal information over the phone. Don’t be afraid to shut down a conversation or just hang up
- Cold calling about pensions over the phone was banned in 2019, so you should always ignore these calls or report it to Action Fraud
- Your bank will never ask you for personal information via email or text. Call your bank if you receive one of these messages rather than replying
- Never click on a link in an email or text that looks potentially suspicious. Call your adviser if you receive anything purporting to be from Wren Sterling that looks suspicious
Action Fraud has a more detailed guide for people looking for protection from fraud here including what to do if you believe you are a victim of fraud and how to protect your computer from malware.