Identity fraud happens when your personal details are being used without your knowledge to open accounts and apply for services. In many cases, all the fraudsters will need is your full name, date of birth and address. They can obtain this information in a variety of ways including taking documents from your rubbish or contacting you and posing to be a legitimate organisation. Remember, your identity and personal information are valuable assets. Keep them safe and secure.
Phishing communications are made to look as though they have been sent by a genuine sender. They are designed to trick you into inadvertently disclosing confidential information to fraudsters, which happens when you reply to the fake email, open an attachment which in turn implants malicious software or a virus on your device, or click on any links which lead to spoofed websites. Remember that phishing can also happen through phone calls, fake texts pretending to be from your bank, and social media posts. Be skeptical of any communication which pressures you into acting quickly, or asks for confidential information. Think twice before clicking on links or opening attachments from unverified sources.
Fraudsters can install malware on your device enabling them to harvest your credentials. When they have obtained enough information, they can take control of your accounts by using your login details or by resetting them. To protect yourself, invest in an up-to-date firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and perform regular security sweeps on your device. Update your software regularly to prevent fraudsters from exploiting the vulnerabilities of any outdated programs. Remain vigilant and monitor your accounts. Report any unauthorised activity immediately.
The fraudsters have a multitude of tactics to gain your trust. They know how to make you feel pressured into accepting their offering, and for many it is a full time job which means that they have time to build a relationship with you and make you more vulnerable to their exploits. Beware of any out-of-the-blue telephone contact or correspondence which offers interest in your shareholdings, guaranteed returns, or ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ investment opportunities. If you have any suspicions, take steps to independently verify contact you’ve received. Ask for additional information from the person who contacted you and compare those details to the ones obtained independently. Do not be afraid to terminate unexpected calls if you have any concerns.
Pension liberation fraudsters promise to convert pension savings into cash before retirement. The fraudsters are marketing schemes claiming to let savers gain early access to their pension pots by referring to a legal loophole. As part of the liberation transaction, scammers will ask for a ‘commission’ or ‘arrangement fee’. Please remember that early access to pensions is rarely in anyone’s long-term financial interests, and can carry tax charges of more than half the unauthorised payment. You can find more information on pension liberation scams on the Action Fraud website.