At Kent Reliance we’re as concerned as you are with keeping your identity and hard earned savings as safe as possible, but frauds and scams are becoming increasingly common and sophisticated and any one of us can fall victim to them.
They not only cause financial harm but experiencing them can take its toll emotionally.
If it does happen to you, please remember it’s not your fault and you don’t have to deal with it alone.
Fraudsters stole over £1.3bn in 2021, according to UK Finance’s 2022 fraud report1, with many criminals taking advantage of the pandemic to impersonate a wide range of organisations.
During the pandemic, fraud reached record levels. There were 413,553 reports made to Action Fraud between April 2020 and March 2021 – up 33% year on year, and more than £2.3bn was lost by victims as a result1. The pandemic meant that people spent more time at home, providing scammers with greater opportunity to operate.
Over the last year 20,144 people fell victim to scams where they were tricked into handing over control of their computer or smartphone to criminals. This amounted to a total loss of £57,790,384 – an average of £2,868 per person2.
The good news is there are steps you can take to protect yourself, and this article covers:
We care about keeping your money safe, so here are some of the steps you can take to protect yourself:
We support the national Take Five campaign – which is five simple steps you can take to help protect yourself and your money.
1. Never disclose your security details, such as your PIN or full password – even to someone you trust
2. Don’t assume an email request or caller is genuine – people aren’t always who they say they are
3. Don’t be rushed – a genuine organisation won’t mind waiting to give you time to stop and think
4. Listen to your instincts – if something feels wrong then it’s usually right to pause and question it
5. Stay in control – have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for information.
There are other ways you can help protect yourself, such as:
For further guidance on how to protect yourself please see the different types of scams where we have identified specific warning signs.
Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests.
Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.
We have robust procedures in place and our teams are trained in spotting the signs of fraud, so don’t hesitate to contact us directly if you’re unsure of anything.
Here are just some of the steps we take to protect your money:
Visit our fraud FAQs at www.kentreliance.co.uk/support/identifying-types-of-fraud-faqs for more information.
If you feel you have been the victim of a fraud or scam, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about, so don’t hesitate to report it. You can stop it from happening to someone else and can help to track down the criminals. You may also be able to get some of your money back, for instance through insurances or if you have credit card protection.
Who to contact:
Fraudsters can target absolutely anyone – through the telephone, emails, text messages and face to face. Outsmart them by making sure you know the risks and have all the facts about scams.
If you’re worried your personal details have been stolen, have noticed any unusual account activity, or deal with an organisation that has recently lost or leaked sensitive data, you may be at risk of becoming a victim of identity fraud. You can register a protective registration with Cifas by calling 0330 100 0180 or visiting www.cifas.org.uk to help protect your identity.
In an emergency, if a crime is in progress or about to be committed, call 999. If it’s urgent but not an emergency, please call 101 to notify the Police.
Phishing is a widely used form of fraud, where cyber criminals use fake emails or messages as bait to encourage you to click false links, or to give away sensitive information (such as bank details). These links often take you to dodgy websites, which could download viruses onto your computer, or steal your passwords and sensitive information*. Be vigilant when using shared computer networks in public places.
*Kent Reliance will never ask you to transfer your money to protect your funds, or ask for personal details over email
If you receive an email from us that you don’t believe is genuine, please forward the email to email@example.com.
Smishing is a form of phishing whereby an attacker uses a compelling text message to trick recipients into clicking a link and sending private or financial information or downloading malicious programs to a smartphone. Some common ones include false delivery information, competition entry, or discounts/offers.
Vishing (also referred to as voice phishing) is where cyber criminals use verbal scams or phone calls to convince victims to act, give up private information, passwords and provide access to bank accounts. Often, the caller will pretend to be calling from the government, tax department, police, or your bank.
Number spoofing involves fraudsters changing their caller ID to either disguise their true identity or to trick the recipient into believing they are calling or texting on behalf of their bank, a Government department or other genuine organisation.
Premium rate number scams aim to snare those searching for a phone number, and will see an advert with a premium third party number. This number will put you through to the correct organisation, but will charge you an unnecessarily high fee.
Never use numbers beginning with 084, 087, 090, 091 or 098 when calling government advice lines. Use organisation’s own website to get the correct number
‘Catfishing’ is where someone sets up a fake online profile, or establishes a fake friendship or relationship with someone for financial gain. Once they have established their victim’s trust, the criminal will then claim to be experiencing a problem, such as an issue with a visa, health issues or flight tickets and ask for money to help.
If something sets alarm bells ringing then don’t part with any financial details or money, even if they’re pulling on your heartstrings and you feel sorry for them.
Some fraudsters will try to take advantage of challenging times, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic where fraudsters posed as health or government officials, or sent spoof texts or emails claiming to be from the NHS or the Government.
Scammers could also create websites or Facebook groups claiming to collect funds for disaster relief…only to pocket the money themselves.
To protect yourself, always:
Mail/post scams are often addressed directly to you and contain fake claims or offers that are designed to get access to your money. There are many different types of scam mail, such as fake lotteries/prize draws/competitions, get-rich-quick schemes, bogus health cures, hard-luck stories, unclaimed inheritance, job offers, investment scams and pyramid selling.
Investment scams can be difficult to distinguish from genuine investments – they can look incredibly professional. Companies may contact you about investment opportunities through cold calls, emails or with brochures in the post, and often pressure you with a time-limited or discount offer.
Identity fraud is where criminals can steal your identity to obtain goods or services by deception. They can use this information to open bank accounts, credit cards, loans or benefits, or order goods in your name. They may take over your existing accounts, take out mobile phone contracts or obtain ID documents such as passports and driving licences in your name.
These scams often begin with a phone call, text, message or email that appears to be from a trusted organisation such as your bank, the police, a delivery or utility company, communication service provider, HMRC or else someone you trust, and try to convince you to make a payment or give personal and financial details. They might impersonate a police officer and pretend to be part of a police investigation, or pretend to be a friend or family member and ask for money in an emergency.
Someone knocking at the door could be there for innocent reasons – for instance, a tradesperson, charity collector or someone in need of help. It’s often nothing to worry about, but you should think carefully before opening the door or letting strangers into your home.
The following steps can help you to protect yourself:
Please note, these are just some of the types of fraud we commonly see. This list isn’t exhaustive.
More information on different types of fraud can be found at www.kentreliance.co.uk/support/identifying-types-of-fraud-faqs
Citizens Advice have advice on spotting scams at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/check-if-something-might-be-a-scam/
UK Finance and CIFAS have partnered up to raise awareness on money mules at www.moneymules.co.uk/tips/