Unfortunately, financial scams are on the increase in the UK, with fraudsters looking to exploit the fears over the coronavirus outbreak.
The first fraud report relating to Covid-19 was received early February with there being a sharp increase since then. The FCA, Pensions Regulator and the Money and Pensions Service issued a statement at the start of April warning people not to make hasty decisions about their pensions as fraudsters are attempting to exploit the market drops to con their victims out of their pension savings.
These fraudsters are often sophisticated, opportunistic and aim to get personal information or money from victims in numerous ways, and with that in mind, we want to urge people to be vigilant for these scams.
Here are some things to look out for:
- Cold calls, emails, text messages and even Whatsapp messages that state your bank is in financial difficulty due to the coronavirus crisis and push you to transfer money into a new bank to ensure they are safe.
- Being contacted out of the blue is generally a warning sign, especially when they request to discuss your pension or investments. Ensure you know who you’re speaking with, or contact your provider, advisers or government body using the contact details on their website only.
- Offers playing on the uncertainty of the current markets, these look to get you to invest new money or existing investments to higher risk investments promising high returns.
- Good Cause scams look to get you to invest money into PPE manufacturing or coronavirus treatments with the promise of high returns.
- Advance fee or loan fee fraud usually request you pay a small upfront fee when applying for a loan or credit facility you never receive; this is particularly pertinent whilst many people may be experiencing short-term financial concerns relating to the pandemic.
- Decisions about your finances, whether that be a pension or an investment, should never be rushed. Scammers will often tell you to act quickly to ensure you get the best deal and pressure you to reach a decision. Make sure you fully research a scheme or opportunity before making a decision.
More information on financial scams and how to protect yourself is available on the FCA’s website here: https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart
You can also report a scam to them if you have experienced anything here: https://www.fca.org.uk/consumers/report-scam-us