5 shrewd ways to help protect your investments from scammers
Research commissioned by NatWest makes for sobering reading, as it suggests that seven out of 10 Britons have been targeted by scammers in the year leading up to October 2023. It’s a depressing thought and confirms the need to stay diligent as criminals look for ever more creative and sophisticated ways to try to steal your money.
The study, which questioned 2,000 adults, found that the top three scams during the period were:
According to the study, 37% of Britons were targeted by these types of frauds, in which fraudsters send messages or make telephone calls pretending to be from a legitimate company or organisation. Phishing scams can also include genuine looking websites, all of which are geared to extracting sensitive information that the criminals then use to try to steal your money.
This is where scammers pretend to represent a genuine organisation or company, such as HMRC or your energy provider, and try to convince you that there is a problem with your account. For example, they may claim that you owe money or have an outstanding fine you need to settle immediately. According to the research, 21% of Britons were contacted using this type of scam.
Criminals claim to be from a trusted company or organisation and tell you that you’re due a refund. They will then ask you to share personal or bank details, which they will then use to try to steal from you. More than one in ten UK adults (13%) were approached by scammers in this way.
In total, the research highlighted 10 different ways fraudsters are looking to steal money, one of which included investment fraud, something we’ll now look at more closely.
Investment scams could put your financial security at risk
According to the research, nearly one in ten Britons (8%) were targeted by criminals using investment fraud. If you fall victim to one of these scams, the consequences could be significant and could put your long-term financial security in jeopardy.
One way that criminals try to approach investors is by offering a free review of your investments. The scammers will use the ‘review’ to try to convince you to switch to their bogus or inappropriate products.
It should be stressed that a bona fide financial adviser may also offer a free investment review. If you are offered a review, make sure you do everything possible to confirm the authenticity of the adviser before accepting.
With this in mind, read on to discover five important ways you could help to protect your investments from fraudsters.
Be wary of investments with a limited timeframe
Bogus financial advisers will claim that an investment is only available for a short period in a bid to panic you into investing. If you are offered an investment opportunity that is only available for a limited period, be very careful as it’s likely to be fake.
Take care when you’re on the internet
Sadly, there are many adverts on the internet promoting bogus investments, savings and pension schemes. If you see an advert or comparison website that’s offering attractive returns, even if it’s only slightly higher than other adverts, you should always be wary. It may be criminals trying to tempt you.
Avoid advisers who provide vague explanations
Scammers use vague explanations and usually focus on the investment’s ‘high’ returns for low risk. Please remember that greater potential growth always comes with higher levels of risk, so be extremely sceptical of investments offering high return for low risk.
In addition to this, be on the lookout for advisers who use lots of jargon. Fraudsters try to make their product sound more genuine by using jargon, so this could be a tell-tale sign.
Ensure that the financial advice company is genuine
Criminals often create ‘clone’ companies that are indistinguishable to an authentic business. In some cases, they use company names that are very similar to a bona fide advice company.
Furthermore, they’ll create official looking websites, adverts and literature that could include the genuine firm’s FCA number, employee names and contact details. If you’re speaking to an adviser, check the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) warning list to see if the business they represent is on it.
If it’s not, check against the FCA register to ensure legitimacy.
Remember, your pension could also be at risk
In May 2023, Professional Adviser revealed that a quarter of pension savers could be at risk of ‘opportunistic’ criminals looking to take their retirement fund. One way fraudsters try to attract pension holders is to promise early access to their retirement fund, something known as a ‘pension liberation’ scheme.
If you have been offered this you should take extreme care, as accessing your pension early will typically result in you facing high penalty charges, a substantial tax charge, or both.
Get in touch
The best way to avoid scammers and enjoy financial peace of mind is to work with a genuine financial advice company that’s authorised and regulated by the FCA. They’ll always offer genuine investments and explain in clear and simple language the potential benefits and risks involved.
A bona fide adviser will also do their homework to ensure that any investment recommended has the potential to achieve your goals at a level of risk that’s right for you. If you would like to discuss your investments, please call us on 01527 577775 or speak to one of our advisers, as we’d be happy to help.
As one of the UK’s largest independent financial advice businesses, we can access the whole of the market to find the best solution for you.
Monday 20 November 2023