Protect yourself in the summer

Financial fraud – scams – have been around since the invention of money. But these days they can hit at any time, and especially when you go online or pick up your smartphone.

We look at some of the latest scams, and how to avoid being financially burned by a scammer this summer.

It’s easy to be scammed

Scams can take many forms, but all are designed to part you from your money, either directly, or by stealing your personal details to impersonate you.

Some are obvious. The spam emails or the agency calling about a bequest from an unknown but recently deceased (and non-existent) relative are well known. But sophisticated new scams are coming along all the time. We look at some of the current attempts to part you from your cash – and how we at Continuum can help keep you safe.

  1. The taxman calls

Emails and phone calls purportedly from HMRC have become common. They announce that you are being investigated for fraud, and that you face arrest if you don’t make an immediate payment. The idea is to scare you, and by making you panic stop you from considering the obvious facts. The taxman could possibly phone you but is more likely to send letters. Despite what you may think about him, he is very unlikely to threaten you with a police raid. If you have worries about tax, a Continuum expert could help ensure you pay no more than you need to.

  1. Boiler room schemes

More insidious are ‘boiler room’ scams, where you receive a telephone call out of the blue offering an investment opportunity that sounds too good to be true – because of course it is. The classic version may seem to come from a legitimate company – but actually would be from a fraudster calling from the boiler room. You may be pressurised to transfer your money straight away. More than 5,000 investors lost a combined £1.73bn through boiler room schemes reported to the Action Fraud crime prevention centre in 2014.

Check the FCA status of any firm you intend to deal with for investments – or better still, call us at Continuum.

  1. Phishing

Pronounced like fishing, phishing is where scam artists call, e-mail or set up web pages designed to collect key information. The most common phishing scams come from fraudsters posing as your bank or building society – or even as police officers – and will involve some reason to ask for your log on, account and password details.

This information is then used to raid your account.

Your bank and other legitimate organisations will never ask you to disclose full security and password details. If someone tries, they are a scammer. If you have any doubt, call the bank or other body involved and ask them if they have tried to contact you.

  1. Pension liberation

Scammers can approach you by post, email or telephone with bogus investment opportunities to try to get hold of your pension savings. Most involve opportunities abroad. You are invited to invest your pension pot with the promise of substantial returns.

Naturally, you would never see your pension pot again.

Low annuity rates are tempting people to take extra risks to get the retirement they need. A better approach is to call us at Continuum, and see how we can make your pension savings work harder, legitimately.

If you think that you may have been made a fraudulent offer contact Action Fraud on 0300 1232040. Or visit the FCA’s online Scam Smart warning list.

  1. Account verification scams

Getting emails that seem to come from legitimate organisations – such as your bank or internet service provider – telling you that your account has been compromised by a scammer and asking you to re-input your details? The email itself is the scam. Banks do not need this information.

The giveaway is often the fact that the email will address you as ‘Dear customer’ rather than by name – which a legitimate user will have. Do not respond to this type of email, do not click on any link within it – just delete it.

How to protect yourself against scams

The fraudsters have been around for centuries and will continue to come up with new ways to part people from their money. The only way to stay safe is to ensure that you handle your financial affairs carefully – and work with people and organisations that you know and trust. So, the simple answer, when it comes to all your financial questions is to find the answers with Continuum.

The information contained in this article is based on the opinion of Continuum and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation to suitable investment strategy, you should seek independent financial advice before embarking on any course of action.

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