How to protect yourself against fraud

Fraud costs the UK economy billions of pounds every year and is constantly becoming more sophisticated as technology advances. So what measures can the every day individual take to protect themselves against fraudsters?

Email

Nearly everybody has an email and it is likely at some point you will receive an email either requesting you to confirm your bank details by either clicking on a link or downloading a file, informing you that you have won a large amount of money on a foreign lottery, or that you have inherited a large sum of money from a distant foreign relative. While these emails differ in terms of sophistication what they have in common is that they have all been sent to you by fraudsters.

Your bank or credit card provider would never ask you to click on a link in an email or ask you security information. If you believe the email to be real log on to the provider’s website by typing in their website URL directly. Never click on a link!

Websites

When you are shopping online always make sure you are confident in the company and their website. If they are a limited company in the UK they are legally required to display their company number on their website. You can check that there company is legitimate by visiting Companies House and searching their company number or business name. This will tell you who runs the company, how long they have been trading and their registered address.

Once you are confident in the company you need to be confident that the website is secure before entering your card details. You can set your internet security settings to pop up when you are visiting an unsafe website but an additional check is to look at the browser bar and make sure that either a padlock icon is present or the web address has changed to start with https://

If you make your purchase with your credit card your provider automatically covers you for any problems with your purchase. This offers some additional security that your debit card may not.

By post

A popular postal scam is letters informing you that you have won a prize and requesting you forward a nominal amount to cover administration fees or return postage fees. There is no prize and you will never see any money you send again.

In person

There are a few simple steps that you can take to make sure that your financial information remains protected. Always ensure that any papers that contain your information are destroyed properly. This will include items like statements, bills and receipts. Fraudsters go through your rubbish and can piece together your card details from a few receipts so make sure that there is nothing for them to find!

Never hand over cash to cold callers claiming that your property has certain work doing urgently and they can do it for a fixed amount. These cold callers often use scare tactics and bullying to intimidate people into handing over cash. For any building work or repairs you should always obtain a few quotations from different companies and take your time about deciding what you want and need doing. Any building structural repairs should be identified by a surveyor not a cold caller! Better yet, use Rated People to find experienced, legitimate tradespeople!

Investments

Many fraudsters offer fantastic investment opportunities where huge returns are promised. A key principle with investments should always be: Never invest your money if you do not understand the investment. Avoid cold calling investments and never be rushed into a decision – research the investment and get independent advice from a few advisers.

All investment companies are authorised and regulated by the Financial ConductAuthority. If you are in doubt whether a company is legitimate the FCA holds a register online of all authorised companies – this can be seen by visiting www.fca.org.uk

This article is a guest post by staff writer Elizabeth Salutini.

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