Common Financial Scams - still on the rise

Bank Payment Fraud

Victims of online bank transfer fraud are currently losing a staggering £1m or more a day. Criminals, posing as a trusted source, are fooling customers via email, phone or text into authorising payments into their accounts, or providing financial information

Please note a bank would never message you for banking or personal details or ask you to make a test payment online or to move money to a new sort code and account number or even to a secure, safe or holding account.

A name check system is being introduced next year by most banks in the UK to improve security. Currently, when making on-line bank transfers consumers are prompted to enter a payee name but alarmingly this is not checked against the name registered on the account. Next year the “confirmation of payee” system will check the name entered with the name on the receiving account and flag any discrepancies. It is hoped this will reduce the number of fraudulent payments.

HMRC Scams

Whenever we get close to a tax return reporting deadline, scam emails and texts and calls claiming to be from HMRC tend to rise – they either advise of a tax rebate or large bills due for payment. HMRC would not contact you in this way.

Investment Scams

According to UK Finance, a trade body, the number of reported investment scams rose by 152% in the first half of this year. Investment scams typically involve a criminal convincing a potential investor to part with money for fictitious funds or a fake investment in assets such as gold, wine, forestry schemes, property, carbon credits. Losses per case have been circa £ 12,000, on average.

If you are being put under a lot of time pressure and/or the investment opportunity looks too good to be true then this is a sign that it could be a scam.

Pension Reviews

Since the change in Pension rules brought new pension freedoms, there has been a surge in the number of people falling victim to scams and losing their pension savings to criminals. Typically, these pension scams start with an unsolicited call, text or email promising a free pension review or a lucrative investment opportunity.

In January this year, a ban on cold-calling in relation to pensions came into force, but the current ban is unable to ban calls from overseas jurisdictions.

The Financial Conduct Authority Writes:

‘New analysis as part of the regulators’ joint ScamSmart campaign reveals that it could take 22 years for a saver to build a pension pot of £82,000 – the average amount victims lost to scams in 2018. But despite this, many savers could be at risk of falling for scammers tactics within 24 hours. New research reveals that almost 1 in 4 people (24%) surveyed, admitted to taking 24 hours or less to decide on a pension offer.’

The regulators recommend four simple steps to protect yourself from pension scams:

- Reject unexpected pension offers whether made online, on social media or over the phone

- Check who you’re dealing with before changing your pension arrangements – check the FCA Register or call the FCA helpline on 0800 111 6768 to see if the firm you are dealing with is authorised by the FCA

- Don’t be rushed or pressured into making any decision about your pension

- Consider getting impartial information and advice

If you have concerns about any of the items above and wish to discuss these further, please do call SewellBrydenGunn on 01344 636 337

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