Most of us have likely experienced a scam at some point, from a badly spelled letter from ‘HMRC’ saying you have a refund you need to collect, to a Nigerian Prince emailing you to let you know you’ve inherited millions of pounds.
They come at you in all sorts of ways, including texts, letters, or even in person – but more and more, these criminals will target you online. Scams are getting cleverer and more sophisticated and it would be a big mistake to think that only the gullible are targeted.
So here are 7 signs that you are being scammed:
1. A company is contacting you out of the blue
If a company you’ve never dealt with before is contacting you out of the blue – whether online, on the phone or face to face, and is asking you for money – be very wary.
To ensure they are who they say they are, go to their official website, call the number from there and ask if it is legitimate (don’t use any contact details they give you).
If it’s a financial services company, check the FCA register to see if they are on there. If it is, they can forward you back to the person you were talking to, and if not – they have been made aware that someone is using their brand to scam someone.
2. You’ve been rejected for credit, but you’ve got a good credit history
If you usually have good credit, but all of a sudden you’re being rejected, there’s a chance that someone has assumed your identity and is pretending to be you to get money, goods or services.
It’s always worth checking your credit file often to see if someone is making false applications for credit in your name, so you can act quickly if something is not right.
3. You’re being rushed
No legitimate company will rush you into a decision, to hand over sensitive information or make you fork out money with an unreasonable deadline.
Scammers like to involve a sense of fear or urgency as a tactic to bully you into action, so you don’t have time to ask for help or think things through.
4. Your bank is asking you for your PIN number personal information
A bank will never ask you for your PIN number or any online banking passwords either.
If at any point you become suspicious of someone saying they are from your bank, hang up and call them back from a number the official bank website has written on its ‘contact us’ page.
5. The letter or email you have received is full of dodgy spelling and bad grammar
Most emails from major companies are proofread and checked. If an email claiming to come from someone in a position of power comes through with lots of spelling and grammatical errors, be suspicious.
Scammers don’t necessarily have a good education, or maybe come from a different country, so don’t have the language skills you would expect.
6. The website you’re on doesn’t have a secure link
It’s really easy to be fooled by a fake website as scammers can fake an official looking email, using the same logo and email design as the real company.
When using web pages, you need to make sure the site has a secure link. The easiest way to do this to check if there’s a padlock symbol in the browser.
Does the link start with ‘https://’? The ‘s’ stands for secure, and you should really stay away from any site that doesn’t have it.
7. You have a virus
Scammers use computer viruses to gain access to your computer details, which allows them to steal your identity and money. They may also get into your WIFI network for the same reason.
Viruses are small computer programmes that try and infect other computers, tablets and smartphones. Once they’re in your computer, they spread from one device to another, usually by a dodgy link or download.
They can secretly monitor your computer activity, scan for passwords, and even take control of your computer. It is always wise to have anti-virus installed on your computer (there are plenty of good free ones available), which can protect you from these criminals and weed out any viruses you may already have.
The above article was originally published on the Money Advice Service blog on 25th October 2017
You might also like the Money Advice Service’s A beginners guide to scams