At the EMCRC, we're committed to protecting you from fraudsters and scams, as an individual, and as a business. And in our book, one of the best ways to keep your personal data and money safe is to make you aware of what to look out for.
Now more than ever, criminals are tricking people into sharing personal and financial information through cold calls, emails and texts.
By making you aware of what to look out for, our hope is that you - or your business - won't ever become the victim of scams or fraud.
Some of this advice may look simple, and that's because it is! But sometimes people still fall for the oldest tricks in the book, and a recent survey even revealed that most of us Brits are too polite to hang up or say no to people on the phone!
Two simple tricks to watch out for are...
Cold calls from criminals pretending to be from your bank, building society, HMRC, the police or other respectable organisations - This is known as vishing, the fraudulent practice of making phone calls or leaving voice messages purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as bank details and credit card numbers. Reputable organisations will never ask you to disclose personal information or transfer money, give cash or buy goods. And they will never ask you to move money to a ‘safe account’. If unsure, hang up, and call the organisation on the number on their website or literature to check. Don’t call the same number back.
Phishing - Never click on the link in any expected email or text, no matter how genuine it may appear. Messages are easily spoofed to look genuine. Clicking on the link could install viruses onto your device, or steal personal information. Likewise, banks etc will never ask you to update your details, or log into internet banking, directly from a link in an email or text.
In this section we look at some of the latest scams that are catching people out.
You find a bargain online, like a car, mobile, or concert tickets. The seller asks you to pay by bank transfer outside of the website, rather than with a secure method like PayPal, credit or debit card. You’ve been emailing the seller all along, so you think everything should be fine. But as soon as you’ve moved the money from your account, the emails from the seller stop.
And that bargain you set your heart on never turns up.
Avoid paying for goods by bank transfer to companies or people you don’t know. Always pay through a reputable website or app. Read reviews from reputable sources to check if websites and sellers are genuine.
Where possible, use a credit card for goods and services that cost over £100 and up to £30,000 as you may get protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This applies whether you've paid the full amount, the deposit or made a partial payment on your credit card. Card payments are better protected than making a bank transfer to someone.
Be wary of any ‘too good to be true’ offers or prices. If it seems like it’s just too good then it could be a scam.
Advance fee scams
Criminals will contact you to ask for an upfront fee before you receive goods, services, lottery winnings or a loan. But, once you’ve paid the fee, you don’t receive what you’re promised.
Be aware, sometimes once you’ve made the initial payment, they'll try to convince you to pay more by telling you it’s required for them to fully process the claim.
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always do some research to make sure an offer is genuine before parting with your money. If a criminal convinces you to make a bank transfer, it may be difficult or impossible to recover your money.
NHS Covid pass scam
Until there is any easing of the government’s plan B restrictions that hope to tackle the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, adults must now show a COVID pass to enter nightclubs and other large events in England. But with this, comes scams.
However, consumer website Which? has shared a warning over a NHS Covid scam circulating in the UK amid confusion over the new rules.
The scam targets victims by exploiting the rollout of the pass. So it’s important to note that vaccine passes are completely free. The NHS will never ask for payment.
People have reported receiving texts and emails claiming to be from the NHS. The message reads: “You are now eligible to apply for a Covid Pass proving you have been vaccinated against COVID-19”
The message includes a link that appears to be to the NHS website but is in fact a scam website set up to secure your personal details. This is the phishing element of the scam.
For more on this scam, read our dedicated article.
Cryptocurrency and investment scams
Criminals may contact you offering unusually high returns on investments. They may ask you to invest in something like property, gold or cryptocurrency.
Criminals pretend to be from genuine investment firms. They will clone details like the name and address. They often set up convincing social media posts or websites with fake reviews. It may seem legitimate, and some criminals even pay a return at the start, but the investment doesn’t exist, and your money will be stolen.
What are cryptocurrency investment scams?
It's where criminals offer a fake, but convincing opportunity to make a profit by investing in cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is a virtual currency. There’s no physical money. You might be contacted by phone, email or on social media. They may also target you after you’ve asked about a crypto asset investment advertised online. To access the investment, you may be told you need a crypto-wallet. Criminals offer to set these up, but then empty them.
Be wary of promises of high returns. Always do plenty of research and get impartial advice before you take out an investment as many cryptocurrency investments are unregulated. Check the FCA’s website to see if the firm is registered on the Financial Services Register, or if it’s on the list of firms with temporary registration. It’s a good idea to check the FCA warning list for known scams and firms to avoid. Don’t be rushed into a decision.
There are more scams out there of course, and Action Fraud has an A-Z of Frauds on their website which is certainly worth a look.
Criminals plan carefully and use sophisticated methods to catch you off guard. They make their calls, texts and emails look like they’re from an organisation or person you trust such as the Government, your solicitor or friends. With the right information we can help you protect yourself, your personal data and your money.
Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to email@example.com. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).