Lockdown has changed many things in our lives and our buying habits may have also been affected. Many of us may have moved from shopping in the high street to buying products online.
As a result of this change, fraudsters are taking advantage of the most vulnerable and making customers the victims of fraud, which in some cases can result in losing large sums of money to them. With the easing of lockdown, fraudsters began targeting older people who according to the National Trading Standards (NTS), are self-isolating due to COVID-19.
The National Trading Standards is a group led by a board of senior personnel and head of local government trading standards departments from across England and Wales. NTS was created in 2012 to monitor mass marketing, internet scams, and many other enforcement issues that cross the boundaries of local authority.
As an example, one company was caught making over 680,000 automated scam calls over a four-week period. They urged people to purchase extortionately-priced face masks and hand sanitisers by falsely claiming that they were required by the government.
Furthermore, criminals are being found to have duplicated popular investment products in order to attempt to scam investors for large amounts of money. Unfortunately, the number of victims for this type of scam appears to be rising.
An estimated £4m has already been lost to scammers as warned by The Investment Association who is the trade body for UK asset managers. Businesses across the industry have reported over approximately 300 incidents where scammers have been impersonating their products. All of these incidents have been reported since March.
Another way that scammers have been targeting victims is through sponsored links on social media and search engines, in addition to harvesting personal details from fake call centres. It was also discovered that fraudsters were using the names and email addresses of genuine staff members at investment management firms.
Staying Aware Online
To prevent your information from being compromised by scammers, you should not click on suspicious links or clicking on links from unknown senders. Scammers do not discriminate and they can target people of all backgrounds, ages, and income levels across the UK. Scams that impersonate someone or pose as an entity can catch people off guard. If you’re ever unsure about an email, look for the finer details, such as the sender’s email address, the content of the email, any misspellings, and don’t click on any links.
It’s good practice to periodically change your passwords to keep your online accounts safe. If you have multiple accounts on various platforms, you may wish to consider using a password manager to safely and securely handle your passwords for you.
Always be aware of your money and it’s important to be sure that you are working with a legitimate business. If you are in doubt about something or you feel pressured about deciding on something, you can take a step back and ask someone that you trust for their opinion. To learn more about fraud, you can visit the Action on Fraud website here or you can visit the Fraud Action website here or the Take 5 website here, where you will find more information about how to protect yourself.
About Stuart Mosley
Stuart Mosley (CeFA, CeMap, CLTM) founded SJ Financial Solutions in June 2005 having spent 12 years with big corporates such as Halifax and Santander. He felt the personal touch and straight speaking was missing from financial and mortgage advice services and set up SJ Financial Solutions to change this.
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