Criminals are using the current situation to exploit working practices, investment opportunities and mortgage transactions.
With the recent drop in the Bank of England base rate, investment opportunities may seem more attractive and the Fraudsters are trying to capitalise on this. Reputable financial institutions will not contact you with unsolicited (not asked for) investment opportunities.
The fraudsters may call and pretend to represent an established wealth management company but will ask that you only contact them on their personal email or number.
You may also search for investment opportunities online which can result in you landing on fake websites that are often hard to distinguish from the genuine ones. The websites will often display only one type of product promising a high return and ask you to leave your contact details to receive an investment brochure.
Whether contacted by phone or found online the fraudsters may tell you that it is only available for a short time. You may be sent very convincing documentation that appears legitimate and they may ask you to provide your passport and proof of address to verify your identity. Their processes may appear genuine but they are elaborate efforts by the fraudsters to gain your trust.
When moving large amounts of money, such as when you buy a house, you could be a target for a scam. More and more people are falling victim to sophisticated financial scams. A popular time for these to take place is on a Friday afternoon and are commonly known as “Friday Afternoon Fraud”.
The fraudsters scam emails pretend to be from your solicitor and ask for a payment. They may tell you their bank account details have changed and they often demand payment straight away.
These working practice scams try and encourage people to “login” to remote services via email. Some of the most notable phishing scams are through Microsoft Office and DocuSign.
We are also aware of scams that relate to HMRC tax rebates and spurious financial support, these are being sent out via text message, email or phone. Currently they are targeting the self-employed.
With the increased activity online, mobile and telephone banking channels fraudsters are trying to trick both individuals and businesses into transferring funds into unintended accounts. This is known as “authorised push payment fraud” and is an area that has been growing steadily in recent years. It can include scams such as fake investments, email hacks and prompts to move money to ‘safe accounts’ or a new fraudulent bank account.
These scams are all opportunistic, by clicking these links you run the risk of leaking your username and password or having malicious software installed on your personal devices. Think before you click!
What should you do?
Check Account Details
Hackers can change the account details included in a communication. If you receive an email that asks for a payment, call the sender on a known or independently sourced telephone number to double check the sort code and account number. Make sure you call them from a number you trust from them and not one included in the email asking for the payment. This way you can ensure you are paying to the correct bank details.
Look for mistakes
Sometimes fake emails can have spelling mistakes in the address and message. Call the sender to make sure it is genuine, but make sure you call them from a number you trust, not the one in the email. Check the email address from the sender not just the name. Make sure it is a genuine email address.
Beware of requests to move money to a safe account
Fraudsters have been calling individuals and businesses impersonating the police, financial institutions, the NHS and even the World Health Organisation (WHO). Within the call the fraudsters goal is to obtain personal details about you or to convince you to move money to a ‘safe account’. Do not make a transfer before checking with your bank on an independently sourced and verified number, even if the caller tells you not to inform your bank.
Check the FCA Register before making an investment
Before making any decision on an investment seek independent advice, even if you are told it is only available for a short time. Always check that the company you are dealing with is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) . You can then verify the individual with that company. TFA advisers can be verified on OUR PEOPLE page.
Do not click email links
Be cautious of any unsolicited emails that appear to be from ‘known’ organisations such as the NHS or World Health Organisation (WHO). Fraudsters and criminals frequently replicate emails from these and other organisations to urge you to click on a link or download a document. They then capture personal information from you which they can then use to impersonate you. These links can also contain malware which infects your PC or ransomware which then holds your PC ransom until you pay a release fee.
Research online sellers
With shortages of medical and essential items in shops and online it is easy to be tempted into purchasing online from unknown suppliers. This need for items has resulted in an increase in purchase scams where the criminals advertise goods they don’t have but keep your payment. Always research the seller fully before making a purchase and avoid buying from shops you are not familiar with.
Verify the identity of a payee
Always think twice before making a payment. Some individuals have been asking for financial donations while posing as charities pretending to assist the COVID-19 emergency. Do your research before making a payment. Call the charity on an independently sourced number to confirm the details.