Criminals are consistently coming up with new ways to trick people out of money, and around 28 million consumers in the US are targeted and lose around a billion pounds each year.
The methods criminals use are consistently changing but protecting yourself stays the same. All it means is that you must stay alert and take some simple precautions when it comes to your finances.
Scams are illegal schemes criminals use to make money through deception. These scams can be in the form of letters, e-mails, text messages on your mobile phones, and telephone calls to your home.
The scams are designed to trick you out of your personal information to use it to get to your money or to gain credit lines in your name. The best thing for you to do is never give out your personal information to anyone you do not know or a corporation you have not checked out thoroughly.
Because scams change so frequently, you should also keep up with the advice on numerous websites such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FSA) who provides information on the most current scam being used. You can find information about the following scam issues on the FCA’s site:
- ‘phishing’ scams are e-mails that look as if they came from a legitimate bank and are designed to steal your money or your identity
- ‘share scams’ are when you get a phone call out of the blue offering to sell you shares in a company you’ve never heard of
- ‘fund transfer scams’ are advertisements or e-mails asking you to accept a payment into your banking account, withdraw it and then send it overseas for a commission
- ‘advanced fee scams’ are when you get a letter, e-mail, or phone call offering you a large sum of money if you help someone transfer millions of pounds from their country
- identity fraud
- fake websites
Other sites like the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), Consumer Direct, and Card Watch offer consumers information on all types of scams and how to recognize them. If you think you have been targeted or a victim of a scam, you should immediately contact Consumer Direct for advice. You also need to contact the FSA and let them know. It is also important that you contact the police right away and report that your identity has been stolen.
You also need to contact your creditors right away and do the following:
- cancel your credit cards
- change all of your passwords and PINs
Protecting your identity and being cautious with your financial information will keep you from accruing thousands of pounds in debt that does not belong to you. It sometimes takes years to clear your name of the identity theft, and you will have problems securing credit and other types of loans until it is done. A criminal can mess up your finances and tie them up for years, so it is better to protect yourself from the start than dealing with the consequences later.