3 increasingly common scams and what you need to know to protect your money May 13, 2022 by Michelle Boakes Category: News In the past few years, the increasing digitalisation of our society has had many benefits. From videoconferencing, which enables people to work from home, to contactless card payments, which can save you time at the till, technology has improved our lives in a variety of ways. That being said, it has also had some drawbacks. One is that our increasing reliance on technology has made it easier than ever before for scammers to target victims. According to a recent report published in City A.M., Brits lost £2.5 billion to fraud and cybercrime in the year to November 2021. This is an incredible sum of money, with the average victim losing £5,700. A loss like this can seriously affect your progress towards your financial goals, so if you want to stay safe, read on to find out three increasingly common scams and what you can do to avoid them. The pandemic has offered scammers many opportunities to target victims During the pandemic, fraudsters exploited the heightened stress and isolation to find new ways to part people with their money. According to figures published in City A.M., the number of scams reported to the police in 2020 rose by one-third. Even now that we’re beginning to emerge from the pandemic, this issue has continued to affect people. Here are three increasingly common scams that you might be at risk of falling victim to. Impersonation scams This type of fraud involves criminals pretending to be your bank, a delivery or utility company, or even a government department, such as HMRC, to take advantage of your trust. In some cases, they’ve even been known to impersonate friends and family members of victims. These scams often begin with a text, email, or phone call that appears to be from a trusted source. For example, the fraudster may claim to be working for your bank and ask you to transfer money to a “safe account”. According to the latest data from UK Finance, reports of this scam rose by a staggering 129% in the first half of 2021. Purchase fraud Purchase fraud is when a victim pays for goods and services that they never receive. This is usually done through an online retailer but can involve social media platforms too. With many Brits choosing to work from home in recent months, there has been an uptick in the number of people doing their shopping online. While this may be more convenient, it can also leave you open to purchase scams. Data from UK Finance shows that this type of fraud rose by 40% in the first six months of 2021 and was the most common type of authorised push payment scam. Investment scams This type of fraud involves getting unsuspecting people to invest in seemingly legitimate investment schemes. They may offer an unrealistically high rate of return, in order to attract amateur investors. Eventually, however, the scammers disappear with the money and leave their victims empty-handed. This can often be the most insidious type of fraud as they are sometimes so convincing that even professional investors fall victim to them! According to the report by UK Finance, cases of this type of scam rose by 84% in the first half of 2021. It can be useful to do your research before handing over any money If you want to protect yourself from falling victim to scammers, it’s important to be diligent. While fraud is becoming increasingly sophisticated, keeping your guard up can help you to stay safe. For example, if you are contacted by someone claiming to be from your bank, it’s important to be wary. This is especially so if they ask you for personal information, or they talk to you in a pushy or aggressive way. When it comes to avoiding purchase and investment scams, it can be useful to do a bit of research on the topic before handing over any money. According to Which?, search engines such as Google provide an “easy hunting ground” for criminals, who may try to target you with paid-for adverts. To avoid the fraudulent ones, it can be useful to carry out checks on any company or product at the top of your search results. You should also be cautious if an advert offers you an investing opportunity with returns that seem much higher than usual. This can often be a red flag that the scheme is not genuine, so it’s important to be vigilant. Finally, if you want to avoid scams, seeking professional advice can be very helpful. For example, if you’re unsure if an investing opportunity is legitimate, a financial planner can act as a sounding board, helping you to steer clear of anyone who could be untrustworthy. Get in touch If you want to know more about how to protect yourself from scammers, we can help. Email us at email@example.com or call 0330 320 5048. Please note: The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.