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Financial fraud is a significant problem in the UK. According to Financial Fraud Action UK, a huge £768.8 million was lost due to fraud during 2016 - up 2% from the year before. That’s the equivalent of £20 million a day, every day.
Fraud comes in many different forms, but there are plenty of easy ways you can protect yourself.
Who are you speaking to?
One of the main ways that fraudsters get hold of your cash is by impersonating people you would ordinarily trust. It may be in the form of an email or a phone call, where the person on the other end poses as your bank, warning you that some sort of unusual activity has taken place on your account. Then all you need to do to step in and stop it is to provide certain personal details.
Of course, the sender or caller isn’t really from your bank. They are scammers who want to use those personal details to either access your account or take out new credit in your name.
It’s therefore crucial you establish who you are really speaking to.
Your bank will never ask you for your account details
This is an important one to bear in mind. Banks are very aware of the tactics used by fraudsters, so are keen to shout it from the rooftops that they will never ask you for details like your PIN in an email or call. If an email supposedly from your bank asks you to supply this information, don’t do it.
Check the email address
Yes, your inbox may say the sender is Barclays or HSBC, but check the actual sender’s email address. Chances are it isn’t coming from an actual Barclays or HSBC email address - another sign that it’s a scam.
Check the grammar and spelling
Scam emails are notorious for having some rather questionable spelling and grammar in them, though the fraudsters are getting wise to this. Be on your guard for any obvious slip ups.
Contact them yourself
If a call or email strikes you as suspicious, contact your bank independently to check whether it was legitimate. Only use contact details you have previously used and you know are genuine. There may be fake details within the email or given by the person who called you.
Don’t click links or open attachments
If you receive an email supposedly from your bank, asking you to follow a link, be on your guard. This is a classic tactic employed by scammers - clicking the link will see malware installed on your computer, which could help the fraudsters get their hands on your details.
End the call if you feel uncomfortable
If the person on the other end of the line is pushing you to do something quickly, and you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to end the call. Take back control.