Brexit: keeping your money safe from scammers
Fraudsters will exploit any opportunity – such as big global events or current affairs – to try and convince investors to part with their money: Brexit is another example of this.
Fraudsters use any and all means possible to reach potential victims, and try to capitalise upon the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and public apprehension. Once contact has been made, a fraudster might suggest that taking out a new investment will help to take advantage of Brexit or reduce the damage as a result of it. They may suggest cashing in an existing investment, or transferring a pension plan, in order to fund the new arrangement.
Here is some practical advice to help you identify potential scams and take precautions, and what you can do if you think you are a victim.
What should I look out for?
- Unsolicited and repeated contact – this could be via a call, text message, email, through social media or even a brochure in the post
- Unusually high returns – ask yourself: is this offer too good to be true? If the answer is ‘yes’, then it may well be a scam
- A ‘limited time only’ offer – are you being pressured into acting quickly? Will that special rate expire if you don’t act now? This is a tactic often used by fraudsters to force you into paying them your money
- Early pension release – be wary of any scheme offering to help you take money early from a pension
- Upfront fees – are you being asked to pay an amount immediately to secure a particular product? This can be a sign that the product might be bogus and you should be cautious if you are told this
What can I do to protect myself?
- Beware of and do not respond to unexpected contact – if you are sent links or documents electronically, do not click on/open them: it may be fraudsters trying to obtain your personal data and/or install malware on your device. Equally, never give out your personal details (including bank account information). Fraudsters can spoof email addresses and phone numbers, or clone websites, so it might look like the contact has come from a genuine third party
- Take your time – don’t agree to anything over the phone. A genuine financial services firm or financial adviser won’t mind giving you time to think. Remember: you can always hang up or press the delete button
- Do your own research – a simple online search can identify potential scams. For example, the Financial Conduct Authority* (FCA) make tools available for consumers to verify investment and pension schemes (ScamSmart: www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart) and find out whether a firm is authorised by them or is exempt (register.fca.org.uk)
- Use existing or independently obtained contact details – if you want to get in touch with an organisation to verify supposed contact, use contact information you already have or which you have established yourself through independent enquiry (e.g. through an internet search). Do not use contact information provided in a call, text, email etc.
I’ve already given money to a scammer
- Report it to Action Fraud via www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040
- If the money has come from a Zurich product, notify us – we’ll consider and advise if we can assist you further
* The FCA is the conduct regulator for financial services firms and financial markets in the UK