Sadly, scams have been on the increase since Covid 19 hit the UK. More people
are spending more time at home and feeling more isolated with fewer family and
friends around to offer support and advice. Luckily for Barrow Voice readers,
Alasdair Walker, a Chartered Financial Planner with Handford, Aitken & Walker is
able to offer advice about how to spot scams – and what to do about them.
There are three main types of scams to watch out for during lockdown, Alasdair told me: Phishing, Push and Pension/ Investment scams.
A Phishing scam is when you may receive an email or text, pretending to be from an official body. Someone may pretend to be from the government saying that you will be paid £258 compensation for Covid disruption. Others may tell you that you need to pay a fine because you have breached lockdown rules.
A Push scam is where a scammer pretends to be from your bank warning you that your debit card may have been fraudulently used and suggests that you move your money to a ‘safe’ account.
Thirdly, Pension and Investment scams will try to persuade you to transfer money with the bogus claim that they are helping you claim pension or get higher rates of interest. They may say you have limited time to make your decision and pressure you to move your money.
What to do if you suspect a scam
- If you are at all suspicious of a telephone call you receive, hang up.
- Take the name of the company and the name of the caller, then find the company number on a legitimate site.
If you can’t find the number or you aren’t sure it is genuine, don’t call back.
- HMRC won’t call, text, or email you out of the blue. They will almost certainly send a letter first and if they do telephone as a follow-up, they won’t make demands for payment over the telephone.
- If you are contacted by someone purporting to be from HMRC, visit the HMRC page to find out what a potential scam might look like (https://www.gov.uk/report-suspicious-emails-websites-phishing/report-hmrc-phishing-emails-texts-and-phone-call-scams), and if you are worried about a potential scam, forward it to Financial Services Register (https://www.fca.org.uk/firms/financial-services-register).
- If someone pretends to be from your bank, say you will check with your bank and hang up. Check with your bank.
Here are links to some useful websites from the police, the financial conducts authority and the government. They give information about prevention and what to do if you think you have been scammed.