Tips on how to protect yourself from financial scams

28 February 2019

Corinne Webb
Picture of gloved hand and credit card on laptop

Updated: 15/10/2020

Scams are everywhere these days. An email, text message, phone call or even a knock at your door could be part of an elaborate ruse, and they’re not always as obvious as an unexpected Nigerian lottery win. It’s important to be able to recognise the warning signs, so here are our top tips on how to identify a scam.

Unexpected contact

If a company contacts you out of the blue asking for personal information, beware. Never click on a link or file from an unexpected email or text message. It’s best to visit the company website, find the official phone number and give them a call to make sure they’re legit. Also, in January last year, the government introduced a ban on cold-calls about pensions, so you should never receive one unless you’ve specifically requested it.

Here at Protect Your Bubble, we never engage in cold-calling to conduct sales activity. 

Your personal details

Your bank will never ask you for your PIN, banking passwords or for you to move money to another account. Fraudsters may also contact you pretending to be from other authorities, like HM Revenue & Customs, TV Licensing or the DVLA, and use convincing materials with official-looking logos on them to try and convince you to share valuable information.

Criminals may already have some of your personal details, such as your name or address, and use this to trick you into revealing further details. Never share your information with someone if they’ve contacted you unexpectedly. Instead, obtain the official telephone number of the organisation and contact them directly.

Bad spelling and grammar

Be suspicious of any email, text, letter or website that has poor spelling and grammar. A genuine company will have processes to check and proofread any communications. Scams can come from different countries, so be wary of anything that looks like it’s been translated from another language or written in a hurry.

Being pressured or rushed

If you feel you’re not being given the time to think or you’re being rushed, you could be dealing with a fraudster. They often try to pressure you into making rash decisions, and this can occur via phone, text or email.

If the communication has an urgent tone, gives a time limit to complete an action or asks you to ‘act fast’, then tread carefully. No legitimate company will try to scare you into making a quick decision. A common tactic they use is to claim you’ve been a victim of fraud or that there has been ‘suspicious activity on your account’.

Suspicious email address

If you receive an email that looks suspicious, click on the sender’s email address to see if you recognise it. Fraudsters usually change the sender name to make it look like it’s come from a genuine organisation, but their actual email address may contain misspellings and random numbers and letters.

Malicious websites

Fraudsters sometimes use fake websites to con people out of their hard-earned cash but there are a few things you can do to make sure the ones you visit are the real deal.

Double check the domain name for spelling mistakes and out-of-place numbers, letters or hyphens. If the URL ends with .info or .net (or any other less common variations), check if there’s a or .com version it could be a clone or copycat of.
These checks are not always foolproof, so err on the side of caution and never enter your personal details into a site where the web address starts with ‘http://’. A secure URL will start with ‘https://’ and you’ll see a little padlock beside it in the address bar.

Also, have a good look around for poorly written content and low-quality design, as these shortcomings could indicate it’s a fake site. If there’s no contact us page, or the contact page doesn’t include an email address or a legitimate-looking phone number, it could be fraudulent. 

Social media investments

At any given moment, there are literally thousands of fraudsters lurking on social media, looking to entice people with promises of huge, instant returns on fast online investments. They typically rely on falsified photos of bank statements showing huge sums of cash being paid in to 'prove' that the investment is legit. Don't be fooled - always do your research before investing in anything online.
Follow these tips but also trust your instincts. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and if it just doesn’t feel right, exercise caution.
If you think you might’ve been targeted with a scam, check out Citizens Advice for information on how you can report it..