Price Comparison site Moneyguru.com has issued a stark warning to help those who fear they may be scammed through financial transactions online. With the increase in email and digital scams, you may be forgiven for thinking that you need to be most vigilant, online.
However, many scams still take place face to face, over the phone and through postal services.
Almost a third of consumers duped into authorising access to their bank accounts
£500m was lost to scammers in the first half of 2018 and of this 30% (£145m) was lost through a type of scam called APP. This stands for Authorised Push Payments and is where someone is duped into handing over essential details and/or authorising access to their bank accounts.
Often APP scams are committed via a telephone call where someone will pretend to be calling from your bank, or more recently the HMRC, saying that you owe money or that they owe you, or that there is some problem with your account. They need to get your permission to access your account to resolve the matter and so many people end up giving out their passwords and account details.
It’s easily done, as scam artists are clever at making you believe they are from a trusted financial institution or company. Unfortunately, those who fall victim to this type of scam do not currently have legal protection to cover any losses. Under current legislation, you have no automatic right to escalate your complaints to any authority should your bank refuse to take action, but in 2018, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) proposed plans to increase the powers of the Financial Ombudsman Services, which would mean more rights for people who are subject to APP scams.
72% of Brits were scammed between 2015-2017
A report from Citizens Advice has highlighted the depth of the problem, claiming that 72% of Brits were scammed in a two year period between 2015 – 2017. If you haven’t been scammed yourself, then there’s a good chance that you know someone who has been, as it’s reported 1 in 10 of us do. Sadly, the elderly are particularly vulnerable.
Over 5 million people aged over 65 are believed to have been a victim of scams. The effects are devastating, with many targeted in their own homes and losing life savings.
17-24 year olds are most likely to fall victim to fake car insurance
It’s not just the elderly who are targeted though. 17 – 24 year olds are the most likely to fall victim to fraudsters selling fake car insurance and 39% of us are being targeted because we’re oversharing on social media.
Top scams to be aware of
HMRC / Tax Office
Criminal posing as tax collectors demand huge sums of money or threaten arrest. The telephone call is made to look like it’s coming from a legitimate HMRC number and the caller often acts with an official tone, referring to legal statements and the police. It can sound very convincing, but the HMRC will NEVER contact you by phone or email asking for sums of money.
As we head into spring, more of us will be searching online for holidays and perhaps entering our email address and some details to sign up for discounts or notifications on travel websites. Enter the cheap flight scammers, who cold call, say they have your information from something you’ve subscribed to online and then offer you an extremely low priced holiday. Payment takes place over the phone as you’re encouraged not to miss out on a deal by waiting. Action Fraud state that over £98,000 has been lost from just 110 reports.
Beware of the information you give out online. Catfishing is where people create fake online profiles using other people’s information. They then build a relationship with their victim on false pretences, gaining their trust before asking for money or personal information.
Students are being targeted by tax office scams that spoof the HMRC or Gov.co.uk email addresses. They typically redirect the person to a fake site that steals their data.
How to avoid a scam
- Never give away your personal details such as passwords and bank account numbers. Legitimate companies will never ask for these.
- Never let a stranger into your home.
- Never download attachments or files from an email or click any links within an email.
- Never directly transfer money to someone unless you trust them 100% and always keep track of your transactions.