George Tsounias highlights how to protect yourself and your clients from financial scams
Financial scams do not discriminate by age, so everybody could be just one step away from becoming a victim of one. In a world where scams are becoming highly sophisticated and ever more convincing, the importance of understanding key features and characteristics of scams has never been greater. This is not just the case for members but also for their clients.
Reports of fraud and cybercrime have increased since more people have started working from home and while there has been a lot of talk around staying alert to scams, people are still susceptible.
One of the My Personal Finance Skills school workshops focuses on staying safe from scams to ensure students (and sometimes their teachers) receive direct intervention on a topic that could put themselves or their parent/guardian out of pocket.
Knowledge is power
General awareness and understanding can make all the difference when it comes to scams. Scammers are quick to react to current affairs and use it as an opportunity to run with a new scam. Key things to look out for in potential scams:
- Emails. The content might be look convincing, especially, for example, when the email looks like it is from a retailer that you might have purchased things from in the past. But have you checked the sender’s actual email address?
- Scams can sometimes play upon the fear factor to encourage you to make quick decisions.
- Unexpected or unsolicited calls by any company looking to access personal details. No legitimate company will ask you for personal details, a PIN or a password.
- Calls to action. Is an email or text asking you to click on an external link to verify details?
- Random competitions, draws, wins from things you have never heard of or entered.
✓ Never disclose your security details with others.
✓ Never click on external links. Not all links are bad but if you are unsure, go to the company website directly.
✓ If an email looks genuine (and many do), check the sender’s email address.
✓ Make sure your accounts have strong passwords that are not the same across several accounts.
✓ Keep firewalls and antivirus software up to date on all devices and always use safe and secure Wi-Fi connections, avoiding public Wi-Fi.
Stay safe – check out the Financial Conduct Authority’s ScamSmart website for some of the latest scams: www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart
Finally… remember your A-B-C:
A – Assume it is a scam unless you prove it otherwise
B – Be alert with your personal information
C – Check, check and check again before you act
George Tsounias is relationship manager of education at the CII and heads up the My Personal Finance Skills pro bono financial education school programme
Picture Credit | IKON
My Personal Finance Skills
My Personal Finance Skills is a pro bono initiative providing free financial education to schools across the UK via a network of members. To find out more about the work we do in schools, under the My Personal Finance Skills programme, check out our website by scanning this QR code with your phone.