During and post-Covid 19 the world has been hit by a tsunami of fraud. With the move to electronic money where everyone has their money in digital form, the criminals have realised this has made it easier for them to part you from your money. They don’t need a gun, a knife – just a phone and a computer and they don’t have to come to you. They can be anywhere in the world.
So how do you survive in this dangerous new environment? At ODPT, we put our heads together and put together eight simple rules that should help keep you and your money safe. Tell us what you think of them, have we missed anything important?
1. Be suspicious of unsolicited text messages
In the text message scam, the target receives a text message that sends a link to listen to a new voicemail. Open the link and your smartphone could be infected with malware that could allow scammers to access your account. Criminals will send a target an email claiming to be from the NHS, asking you to click a link to apply for a ‘Digital Coronavirus Passport’. At some point, you will be asked for personal information and or a fee.
ODPT Recommends: Be suspicious of all messages from unknown numbers, especially ones that contain links. Do not follow the link. Block the number and delete the message.
2. Cryptocurrency can lose you money – faster than you think
Cryptocurrency is the latest craze where you are led to believe you can make a lot of money by simply investing your money and sitting back. Investing in your money in Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency, without learning the ins and outs of making the investment could prove costly. Criminal scammers are posing as sales staff to get you to buy into a ‘great deal’ or sure-fire success.
ODPT Recommends: You get the opinion of a qualified adviser and check the FCA website. Don’t give any information to parties you do not know well.
3. You have one National Insurance No for life
A fraudster will call you to say your National Insurance number has been compromised. They will claim to be from the National Crime Agency or say they will be in touch. At some point you will be asked to give your personal details and to make a payment over the phone to receive your new National Insurance number.
ODPT Recommends: Hang up – only scammers will try to rush you for your information. Your NI number stays the same for life.
4. Don’t be a romantic target
Not everyone is who they say they are and scammers can pose as other people online using a convincing false identity and pictures. This could be for example offering a romantic partnership or electronic gadgets for a low price. The purpose is to engage with you and part you from your money!
ODPT Recommends: Always do your background research on the person you’re speaking to and don’t transfer money to anyone you haven’t met in person – especially if they say they’re overseas and need the money for some kind of emergency or crisis. Don’t be a victim.
5. Keep your bank account details secure.
Account takeover can happen when a fraudster or criminal poses as a genuine customer, gains control of an account and clears the account out by making unauthorised transactions.
ODPT Recommends: Keep your account details safe and secure. Do not share your account details with anyone including friends and family. You should also use different passwords for each account. Treat account details and passwords like cash. Keep it safe or lose it.
6. Treat PIN entry devices with caution
Fraud stemming from PIN entry devices happens when fraudsters modify genuine PIN entry devices to record card details.
ODPT Recommends: If the device doesn’t look or feel right, or you have to enter your details more than once, stop! Do not use the device, don’t let the merchant convince you that the device is fine, safe or didn’t work. Stop the transaction dead. Use another merchant or device.
7. Life lesson 101: Nothing is free.
Take it as a fact of life, no one that is not a scammer is going ring you up, or email you to offer you amazing returns on your money. It just may happen in the movies, not in real life.
ODPT Recommends: If you are offered amazing returns on investment, you think very seriously before parting with your money. Make sure the company is fully registered and regulated, has a track record of trading, can show you real returns on real investments. Look at their accounts at the company’s house. If any of these don’t check out then be very suspicious. If all of them do check out, even then only invest what you can afford to lose.
8. Ticket & holiday scams
In these scams where criminals set up fake websites selling tickets for popular events, such as concerts or sporting events or selling flights and breaks in the UK and overseas. Once you have paid for your tickets, you’re either sent fakes, or they never turn up or have severe limitations.
ODPT Recommends: When buying tickets do your homework and make sure the site is genuine and the operator is an official agent licenced to sell the tickets. If it is too good to be true it probably isn’t true.