Following new figures on fraud and scams from Ofcom which reveals nearly 43 million UK adult internet users have encountered suspected scams online, Rio Stedford, financial planning expert at Quilter has given some practical advice.
She said: “Today’s figures from Ofcom lay bare how prolific fraud and scams have become in recent years as technology and the internet has allowed them to become increasingly sophisticated. Unfortunately, governments, regulators and businesses are playing catch up, and as one scammer is defeated, another quickly pops up elsewhere in a perverse game of whac-a-mole.
“As such it is no surprise to see nearly nine in ten adults, according to Ofcom, have encountered what they suspect to be a scam. The data also shows just how convincing some of these have become with nearly half saying they had been personally drawn in by an online scam.
“Being scammed can feel like an incredibly embarrassing event for people and they are likely not to tell friends and family out of fear. However, we need to tackle this taboo and look out for each other, especially those with vulnerabilities, as awareness is key to preventing people from being hooked in by fraudsters.
“The Online Safety Bill is a first step to tackling scams, but it is making painstakingly slow progress through parliament and in the meantime people continue to suffer. Tech firms have a duty of care, and it is no surprise the public sees them as being most responsible for taking action. Social media in particular has become part of our daily rituals and a huge amount of investment fraud is now taking place on these platforms. More action needs to be taken to clean these platforms up and make them a safe space for users of all ages.”
Rio’s top tips for dodging scammers
1. Whenever you consider an investment opportunity, you should check the FCA’s register to make sure you are dealing with a real financial services firm. A phone number will be listed which you can use to verify that the firm is real.
2. Check the FCA’s warning list, which is updated daily and provides a list of every clone firm scam identified, to check whether there have been any cases of impersonation fraud with this particular firm.
3. Consider how you were contacted. If you have been contacted by phone, email or text out of the blue without even looking for an investment then it’s highly likely it is a scam.
4. Be incredibly wary of any investment comparison site that tries to get your attention by using an advert on a search engine and that asks you to input your details. You have no control over where your details go, and to whom they are sold.
5. Check for the little details. Look for any unexpected words in domain names, email addresses or in brochures. If you receive an email from someone, check exactly who it has come from. If it’s a scam, the email address may be filled with random numbers or be misspelled.
6. Don’t let yourself be pressured into taking action or sending funds to anyone. If in doubt, pause and talk to someone you trust.