We all think that we're fraud aware, right? We all think we won’t fall for it, that we wouldn’t make a payment to a fraudster. The problem is, fraudsters are savvy, and given the right pressure or context, we might actually give up more info than we thought we would, or end up falling for a scam.
Revolut believes that the best way to be fraud aware is to be informed, so we’re sharing some of the more common scams we see.
First of all, always remember:
Take 5 and think.
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. We don’t mean to be a buzzkill, but real bargains - half price PS5s in 2021, cheap Yeezys - are rare, and that Facebook Marketplace deal you saw is unlikely to be the investment you think it is.
Ask yourself, what’s the rush? If you feel you’re being pushed to make a decision right now, or something really bad is going to happen, that’s a red flag that this situation isn’t quite right.
Take a step back. What’s the likelihood of the tax office or another financial service actually sending you a text to ask you to pay anything? Is this their usual method of communication?
Check the facts. Call the organisation using their official number and ask if they've contacted you recently. Don’t hit the call back button, or you might end up talking to the fraudster.
Take control. If you receive a text or a call from your bank saying your account has been compromised, the best thing to do is check your account online if you can, to see if anything looks out of place. Hang up the call, go to your bank’s website, find their customer service number and call them back. Again, don’t call back the number that called you. Do your own research on official websites to get the right contact details.
Say No! It might sound silly, but if you’re unsure about an offer or deal someone’s trying to sell you, you can walk away, no matter how good it seems. Do you need it? Did you seek it out? If the answer to both of those questions is no, then you can probably find a safer, genuine deal somewhere else.
And finally as promised, here are some of the most common scams and how to identify them:
What is it?
In an investment scam, a criminal convinces their victim to move their money to a fictitious fund or to pay for a fake investment. Typically, they do this by promising a high return in order to entice their victim into making the transfer. These scams include investment in items such as gold, property, carbon credits, cryptocurrencies, land banks and wine to name a few.
How to identify a potential investment scam
- You see ads within your social media feeds, sometimes celebrity endorsed, offering high returns on investments
- You’re contacted out of the blue by phone, email or social media about an investment opportunity
- You may be offered a high return on your investment with little to no risk (it may sound too good to be true)
- You’re told the investment opportunity is exclusive to you
- For some types of investment, you’re pressured into making a decision with no time to consider your options
How to avoid investment scams
- Reject cold calls. If you’re called about an investment opportunity, the safest thing to do is hang up
- Search the company name online to look for any negative reviews or comments from other consumers
- Verify that the investment company is on the Financial Services Register and check the opportunity using the Financial Conduct Authority Warning List if there’s one in place
- Don’t feel pressured or rushed into making a decision. Always seek advice before investing, ideally from an authorised Independent Financial Adviser
What is it?
You’ve been asked to make a payment or give personal and financial details to someone claiming to be from an organisation you trust. This could include the police, your bank, a delivery or utility company, communication service provider or a government department.
These scams often begin with a phone call, text or email that appears to be from a trusted organisation. Criminals can use a tactic called ‘spoofing’ to make their call or text appear genuine by cloning the number or sender ID which is displayed on your phone.
How to identify a potential impersonation scam
- You receive a call, text, email or social media message with an urgent request for your personal or financial information, to make a payment or move money
- You’re asked to act immediately, sometimes with the claim that ‘your money is at risk’, ‘your account will be blocked’ or ‘there are suspicious transactions on your account’. If you don’t act immediately, you may be threatened with arrest or the prospect of losing money
- The caller asks you to transfer money to another account for ‘safe-keeping’ or for you to buy high value goods/vouchers to cover the cost of fines
- The sender’s email address is slightly different to that of the organisation they claim to be from
How to avoid impersonation scams
Revolut, and other financial institutions, will never ask you to transfer money to a safe account or contact you out of the blue to ask for your full PIN, password or passcode.
- If you receive unexpected communications, don’t share your personal or financial details, and contact your bank or an organisation directly using a known email or phone number. Don’t hit the call back button
- Don’t give anyone you don’t know and trust access to your computer following a cold call or unsolicited text
- Your tax office or health services will never notify you about tax refunds, penalties or ask for your personal or financial information through emails, texts or phone calls
What is it?
The increase in online shopping has provided criminals with a new opportunity to trick people into paying for goods and services that don’t exist, often advertised via auction sites or social media with images taken from genuine sellers to convince you they’re the real deal.
Criminals also use cloned websites with slight changes to the URL to trick you into thinking you’re purchasing from a genuine website. They may also ask for payment prior to delivery and send you fake receipts and invoices that appear to be from the payment provider.
How to identify a purchase scam
- You’re offered a heavily discounted or considerably cheaper service or product compared to the original genuine worth. The deal sounds too good to be true
- You’re asked to pay by bank transfer instead of using the online platform’s secure payment options
- You receive a fake email receipt/invoice that appears to be from the website you’ve purchased from or the payment service used to make your purchase – the email address domain doesn’t match that of the genuine sender
- The website that you’re purchasing from was only launched days/weeks ago
How to avoid purchase scams
- Be suspicious of any ‘too good to be true’ offers or prices
- Use the secure payment method recommended by reputable online retailers and auction sites
- Read online reviews to check websites and sellers are genuine, and ask to see high value items in person or via video link, as well as getting copies of the relevant documentation to ensure the seller owns the item
- Purchase items made by a major brand from the list of authorised sellers on their official website
- Always access the website you’re purchasing from by typing it into your web browser, and be wary of following links in unsolicited emails
Advance fee scams
What is it?
Also known as an Advance Payment Scam, this is when you’re convinced to pay an upfront fee in order to receive a prize/service, loan, high value goods or significant financial return, none of which ever materialise. The classic example you may have heard of is the ‘Lottery scam’, where you’re asked to pay a fee in order to claim the millions you’ve won, even though you never entered. These can be through calls, text, emails or even through fraudulent ads you find online
How to identify an advance fee scam
- You’re asked to pay an upfront fee to receive money or a prize/service that you weren’t expecting
- You’re asked to pay an upfront fee for training programmes or background checks for jobs that don’t exist
- You’re told that the fee is refundable and will be used as a deposit or an administrative charge
- There are follow-up fees which you need to pay in order to secure the loan, prize or goods
- You’re put under pressure to pay quickly using an alternate method such as a bank transfer, or cryptocurrency
How to avoid advance fee scams
- Question claims that you’re due money for goods or services that you haven’t ordered or are unaware of, especially if you have to pay any fees upfront
- It’s extremely unlikely that you’ve won a lottery or competition you didn’t enter, or that you’re being offered a loan that requires you to pay an upfront fee
- Check the email address of recruiters or employers to ensure they’re genuine and be vigilant of those platforms that businesses would be unlikely to use i.e. Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail
- Be suspicious of fake profiles on social media platforms i.e. LinkedIn offering jobs that don’t exist
- Confirm organisations you’re being contacted by are registered on the registrar of companies in your country and use the details provided to contact recruitment companies and other organisations directly. You can check if their website is genuine by checking their web address
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