We are committed to helping educate our members about how you can protect yourself from fraud and scams. Fraudsters will capitalise on economic events, and news stories to create a front for new scam telephone calls, emails, and texts. In the last couple of years many scams have centred around the Coronavirus pandemic.
Criminals spend hours researching their scams and use a wide range of tactics, sometimes impersonating employees of legitimate organisations in order to capitalise on situations for their own financial gain. Learning more about the different types of fraud and scams could potentially help you to avoid falling victim to them.
Protecting young people like Evie, the star of our new ‘Staying Safe Online’ video, from the dangers of fraud and scams whilst using the internet is increasingly important. The internet is becoming an inseparable part of young people’s lives, so it’s important they understand how to stay safe online.
The Society is committed to educating our younger members, about how they can protect themselves from fraud and scams.
That's why we’ve teamed up with Evie, to produce a short video where she explains how young people can protect themselves online. The video provides hints and tips to equip young people with tools that will help them throughout life.
Please be vigilant about any messages you receive that claim to be from a financial services organisation. If you are concerned about anything you receive, follow the steps below, from the ‘Take Five’ campaign:
- Stop – take a moment to think about what you are being asked before you commit to carrying out any transactions
- Challenge – Could it be fake? Please don’t be afraid to ask questions or if you feel uncomfortable say ‘no’ and end the conversation. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you
- Protect – Contact your bank or building society immediately before making any transactions or if you think you’ve fallen for a scam
Take Five - to stop fraud
Fraud poses a major threat to the UK. It is a crime that the finance industry is committed to tackling, but it’s also one that requires the combined efforts of every sector, both public and private, to overcome.
We take our responsibilities very seriously and we will never call, email or text you to ask you to do any of the following:
- Disclose your passwords to your accounts
- Move your money into another account
- Demand immediate payment of mortgage arrears or other sums over the phone or on your doorstep
- Ask you to make any payments via email by providing you with a link through which to make payments
A major event, like the Coronavirus pandemic, or the Cost-of-Living crisis can provide scammers with a whole host of new opportunities. You will have no doubt seen, or heard about, many reports of fraudulent activity
Traditionally, scams have been targeted at the most vulnerable and socially isolated individuals, however, anyone can fall victim to a scam. Scammers are sophisticated and opportunistic, and will try to obtain personal information or money from victims in many different ways.
A scammer may try to approach you on your doorstep, over the phone, online or by post. Within financial services, the types of scams being used often changes after the initial shock of a major event.
Some of the most common scams are:
Energy discount scams – as energy bills continue to rise scammers are seeking to take advantage of unsuspecting customers. Be aware of emails or text messages offering things such as discounts, rebates, energy saving boxes and eco plugs. Government backed schemes are automatic; there is no need to apply for them and you will not be contacted by the Government or Ofgem asking you to share personal information or bank details in order to benefit
Advance fee fraud - To exploit your short-term financial concerns, scammers may ask you to hand over an upfront fee - usually between £25 and £450 - when applying for a loan or credit that you never get.
Charity donation scams - This is where scammers take advantage of our generosity when giving to charity. They may claim to be raising money for a fake charity or be impersonating a well-known charity. These will often be linked to national or global events e.g. UK floods or the war in Ukraine.
Investment scams - Scammers may try to convince you to invest or transfer existing investments into high return (and high risk) investments, that are usually worthless or do not exist. Cryptocurrency scams are currently particularly prevalent
Clone firms – All Financial Services Firms must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. To appear genuine, some scammers will claim to represent authorised firms. In particular, be aware of life insurance firms that may be cloned
Traditional doorstep crimes - Bogus tradesmen, door-to-door sales or doorstep fraud involves fraudsters trying to scam you after knocking at your door. They may try to convince you that your property has broken roof tiles and offer to fix them, pressure you into buying goods from them at the door, complete fake surveys to obtain your personal information or carry out bogus charity collections
Romance Scams – these involve people being duped into sending money to criminals who go to great lengths to gain your trust and convince you that you are in a genuine relationship. They will then ask for money for a variety of emotive reasons e.g. needing emergency medical care or to pay for transport costs
Adverts for online quizzes and games aimed at promoting fun. These can use social engineering and harvesting techniques to obtain personal and financial information
Social media targeting – If people post online about repairs they may need, or other work on their property, this can be exploited by individuals who then offer to carry out the work. Please be careful what you are posting on social media; if a job is really urgent, either use someone you have used before or someone from a reputable approved site e.g. TrustATrader, Checkatrade, etc
How to protect yourself:
- Use the FCA's Financial Services Register and Warning List to check who you are dealing with
- Reject any offers that are unexpected or happen suddenly
- Be aware of adverts on social media channels, especially those which claim to offer celebrity endorsements
- Don't click on links, or open emails, from senders that you don't already know
- Find out more information from organisations such as Action Fraud
If you think someone is trying to trick you into handing over money or personal details, Stop, hang up, and call 159 to speak directly to your bank.
159 is the memorable, secure number that connects you directly to your bank if you think you’re being scammed. It works in the same way as 101 for the police or 111 for the NHS.
When should you call 159?
Call 159 if;
- Someone contacts you claiming to be from their bank - even if they do not seem suspicious
- You are contacted by someone claiming to be an authority figure (such as the police) and told to transfer money - even if the request seems genuine
- You receive a call about a financial matter, and it appears suspicious
When calling 159, you will be taken through an option menu in which each bank that has signed up to the service is read aloud. You are then able to use your telephone keypad to be put through to your bank. If you don't bank with one of the banks taking part and you call the service, you will be advised how to contact your bank directly.
The following banks are currently part of the scheme; Barclays, Co-Operative Bank, Lloyds (including Halifax and Bank of Scotland), Nationwide Building Society, NatWest (including Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank), Santander Starling Bank and TSB.
Calls to 159 are charged at the national call rate, usually part of the included minutes in most phone tariffs.
You can visit Stop Scams UK for more information.
Remember, 159 will never call you.
- Stop any transactions – if you have made any transactions, contact your bank or building society as soon as you can, they may be able to stop or reverse any payments
- Report it – you can make a report to the Police Action Fraud line by calling 0300 123 2040. More information can be found here
The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) offers a free opt out service that allows you to avoid unsolicited live sales and marketing calls, reducing your chances of receiving scam related calls.
You can visit their website here to see how you can easily register for their service.
Several initiatives have been set up to try to help combat the issue of scams, e.g. Take Five to Stop Fraud and Friends Against Scams. Friends Against Scams is a National Trading Standards Scams Team initiative, which aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering individuals to take a stand against them.
In addition to this, the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) work to raise awareness on illegal money lenders (loan sharks) and are committed to supporting individuals who have borrowed from these lenders. The Stop Loan Sharks helpline is there to support victims, their friends, family members and the wider community to encourage people to come forward if they suspect someone is suffering at the hands of loan sharks.
For more information on how you can prevent falling victim to fraud or a scam, including advice on how to report any suspicious activities, please visit the following sites: