Shopping online might feel simple and hassle-free. However, when it comes to entering your personal information, keeping these details secure could be more critical than you’d expect.
In 2021 alone, UK victims of online fraud lost more than £1.3bn, and the problem is far from close to being solved. Technological advances allow scammers to develop their plots with unprecedented complexities, making it harder to pinpoint their origins and intentions. And old-fashioned scams still exist too, with real lives affected after just a conversation or call.
Whether you’ve been a victim of fraud in the past or you’re trying to prevent it, the risk of fraudulent activity and scams should never be dismissed.
Keeping your money safe: Scams to be aware of
Some fraudsters find victims on dating sites and apps. They spend a long time getting to know their victim and grooming them with a faux persona engineered to gain their trust.
Over time, scammers manipulate their victims by asking for money. They target individuals who might be lonely, widowed, or struggling with a recent breakup. Financial losses can be high, and the chances of repeat victimisation are increased by feelings of denial.
At least nine out of ten people have come across scams or fraud on the internet, and almost half have fallen for clicking a suspect link in the process. One of the most common types of online scams is a phishing email, which usually appears in the format of an email delivered straight to your inbox.
This email may impersonate a sender you already know and trust – so if you don’t look carefully, it can be difficult to tell that it’s not genuine. Phishing emails contain a link, which directs the recipient to a page that might ask for personal details or payment information. Once the scammers receive this, you could lose money or even your identity.
Seen something suspiciously good? Where savings accounts are concerned, for example, this might look like extraordinarily high-interest rates or much more flexibility than you’d usually expect.
Instead of clicking a link that advertises an almost unbelievable offer, you should try to go directly through legitimate firms – preferably ones you’ve already established a relationship with. From there, you can open a good quality ISA to start saving with the peace of mind that your savings are safe.
If you usually buy a weekly lottery ticket, it’s important to be prudent when it comes to prizes. If you unexpectedly receive notice of a win, this could be a red flag that someone is attempting to scam you.
In a lottery scam, you might be contacted and told that you’ve won a considerable amount of money. It might be claimed that you’ve won in another country like Spain, Canada, or even Australia, which all commonly appear in scams. You’ll be asked to contact someone who claims to be an official – and if you supply documentation, you could have your identity stolen.
Unfortunately, investment scams are also alarmingly common. These types of scams can seem entirely legitimate, with scammers often appearing convincingly like experts with professional websites and customer testimonials.
Modern investment scams can be incredibly complex. Some include the cloning of websites from banks or financial firms, so victims can be fooled into thinking that they’re sending money elsewhere.
Unfortunately, jobseekers can fall victim to employment scams. These usually appear in the format of poorly written job adverts, but when times are hard, it’s easy to miss critical signs that could point to a fake advert.
If the salary seems unrealistic, the contact details look suspicious or you’ve received a job offer without an interview, make sure to take a step back and assess the situation. Employment scams not only threaten your identity but could leave you out of pocket if you send your payment information to an unknown individual.
Fraud can be hidden in the layers of every type of application and transactional platform we use. Experienced scammers know how to navigate technology and manipulate emotions to the point of collecting money from a stranger, even consensually.
You should always be vigilant and only use services from brands and companies you trust. Always make sure you’re using secure websites, as this can prevent the chances of encountering scams. Lastly, if you see anything that looks suspicious, try to trust your gut – and don’t click on the link!