Billions of pounds are lost to the scam industry each year. So, it is no surprise that we all receive contact from scammers on a regular basis; online, over the phone, in emails, via letters or text messages and potentially even on our doorsteps. Scams can be sophisticated, making them difficult to spot and come in many forms. For example fake goods, products and services, with websites and publicity materials that look near identical to the real thing. If you suspect that you may have been contacted by a scammer, check the warning signs:
- Is the contact unexpected? Scammers often make contact out of the blue.
- Do you feel pressured to act quickly? Scammers might offer a discount if you invest quickly, or say the opportunity is only available for a short time.
- Does the offer sound too good to be true? Scammers often promise unrealistic but tempting rewards, such as high returns on an investment.
- Is the offer exclusively for you? Scammers might claim that you have been specially chosen for an opportunity and that it should be kept a secret.
- Are they trying to flatter you? Scammers often try to build a friendship with you, to put you at ease and let your guard down.
- Are you feeling worried or excited? Scammers may try to influence your emotions to get you to act.
- Are they speaking with authority? Scammers might claim that they are authorised and often appear knowledgeable about financial products.
If the warning signs suggest that the contact received may not be genuine, you can check if the firm or individual is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (‘FCA’) by searching the Financial Services Register, which is available here: https://www.fca.org.uk/firms/financial-services-register
If you do identify a potential scam, do not respond to the scammers directly; report it to the FCA on 0800 111 6768. If you have lost money as a result of a scam you can also, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040; steps will be taken to investigate the scam, prosecute scammers and recover the money lost.
However, unfortunately this may not always be possible but taking this action could still help prevent other people falling victim to the same scammer(s). It is also important to be especially vigilant, if you have been scammed in the past. Scammers can target you again and/or sell your personal details to other scammers.
More information on scams and an online toolkit for spotting them, can be found on the Citizens Advice website here: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/check-if-something-might-be-a-scam/