How to Avoid Being Scammed
Staying Safe When You’re Staying Home
Reading time: 15 mins
Fraudsters are always hard at work. No matter what’s happening in the world, they’ll use any opportunity they see to their advantage.
We understand scams may be the last thing on your mind, but it’s vital to remain vigilant. And rest assured, we’re stepping up our efforts in order to protect your money. Fraud prevention has always been – and will continue to be – a top priority for us.
Because of the current climate, lots of us are spending more time at home. You may be working or just browsing the internet to pass the time. Despite the uncertain times we’re living in, it’s business as usual for scammers.
This latest post concentrates on ways to stay safe when you’re staying home.
Being in your home may give you a false sense of security. But it’s important that you stay on the ball when it comes to scams.
So here are some things you can do to keep your devices – and yourself – safe:
- Installing software and system updates when prompted – outdated software and apps could leave your device open to security flaws. Installing software and app updates as soon as you’re prompted is key to protecting your device, as these updates often contain security fixes.
- Setting strong passwords – a weak password could make it easier for the wrong people to gain access to your accounts and devices. So it’s best to create a password that’s both strong and memorable. The National Cyber Security Centre advises that you should put three random words together to make up your password 1. And you can make this even stronger by adding a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.
- Installing antivirus software – this software can help protect your devices from becoming infected with viruses. These viruses could take over your devices or steal your information, which could leave you vulnerable to things like identity fraud. So it’s a good idea to have up-to-date antivirus software installed.
- Reducing your digital footprint – your digital footprint is made up of all the information available about you online. It’s best to keep your footprint as small as possible. That way, you don’t give anything away to fraudsters who may use this information to do things like create targeted phishing emails or commit identity theft. Make yourself less visible online by limiting what you post and locking down privacy settings on your social media accounts so you’re only sharing information with people you trust.
Three ways to keep fraudsters at bay
Although fraudsters’ tactics vary, most of their ill-gotten gains begin in the same way. Here are some practical things you can do to spot scams – and stop the fraudsters in their tracks.
Being able to spot that something’s not quite right is the first step towards preventing yourself from becoming the victim.
Fraudsters will usually try to contact you over the phone, in an email, in a messenger app (e.g. WhatsApp) or via social media. Watch out for someone you don’t know contacting you, especially if they ask you to:
- make a payment or donation
- amend or confirm bank details
- click through to a website for ‘important’ information.
Some fraudsters might even try to tempt you with financial offers, like lower life insurance or income protection premiums. They’ll tell you they can help you unlock cash from your pension or propose a once-in-a-lifetime investment opportunity. No matter what they’re offering, don’t let curiosity get the better of you. Because if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
See the earlier article we posted – ‘Spot Fraud to Stop Fraud for the latest scams currently targeting unsuspecting victims.
Pause and verify
If you see something suspicious, stop and think. Doing this before clicking on a link or revealing sensitive information over the phone can make a big difference. It’s what Take Five – the UK’s fraud-fighting campaign – is all about. If you get anything suspicious, taking five before acting could make all the difference.
So give yourself time. Ask yourself, is this person really who they say they are? Does this message seem too good to be true? And most importantly, can I trust it? If you’re even slightly suspicious of an email, text or call you receive:
- don’t give out your bank details or other sensitive information
- don’t click any links or attachments in emails or texts you don’t trust
- search for official guidance by visiting the organisation’s website via an internet search
- hang up and call back later using a number you trust (from a company’s official website or a policy document they’ve sent).
By doing this, you can stop yourself from being scammed. But what can you do to stop the fraudsters in their tracks?
Report and protect
By sharing your experiences with the right people, you can help to protect others from falling victim to similar scams in the future.
So if you get anything suspicious, you should contact the Action Fraud team on 0300 123 2040.
At Markland Hill Wealth, our priority is to keep your money safe and help you feel protected and reassured during these uncertain and turbulent times.
And no matter who you are (even if you’re not one of our customers), if you hear or see anything from us which doesn’t seem quite right, you can report it to us. We’ll be able to investigate your case further and help stamp out the scammers for good.
Author: Aviva UK. 4/1/20. Link to post: https://bit.ly/31Q4MIa
For straightforward, impartial advice contact our team at Markland Hill Wealth by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the heading ‘Suspected Fraud’.