Someone always wants something for nothing – and often it’s your money scammers are after.
So what are the tell-tale signs a fraudster is trying to con you?
Here are a few of the most popular rip-offs revealed:
Telephone call out of the blue
Pension liberation or unlocking, boiler room shares, room shares, carbon credits, rare earth metals, land banking and hardwood plantations investments are top of the list.
Just don’t listen to the sales person. They are all get-rich-quick scams that will leave you out of pocket
Advisers regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority are banned from cold-calling
Making up impressive sounding names that sound like real financial firms is a trick of the trade scammers employ to reassure their victims.
Some outright lie – like the callers from Asia pretending they are the Microsoft help desk who have detected a problem with your computer that they can easily put right for a credit card payment of £99.
Check out names online, with the Financial Conduct Authority or Companies House
Years of experience
Salesman sound better if their firm has 150 years of experience, but not when that’s the total the whole staff has combined. New businesses deserve a chance, but still check them out.
The website trap
Setting up a website takes a few pounds and a few minutes. It’s easy to copy and paste pages and look like an impressive Wall Street or City of London firm from a poky bedsit. Don’t be drawn in by the con.
Buy now or regret missing the boat
Investments are like buses, they are always coming along and missing one opportunity doesn’t mean a better one is around the corner. Stressing you should act now is a high-pressure technique in the best interests of the sales person, not you.
International or withheld phone numbers
Just don’t answer them unless you are expecting an international call. Scammers hide behind the shield of anonymity. Don’t phone back to check them out – the line is probably a Skype number cloaking a foreign crook
Ask to speak to a satisfied number or a switchboard to verify the call and you will probably be given the Skype number of another crook in the gang
Any email from someone you don’t know that asks for personal information or upfront payment is a scam. Consign the mail to your spam folder, do not click on any links and definitely do not reply as doing so confirms you have a live email address.
Self-defence is allowed
It’s ‘shields up’ – put your home address, phone and, if you still have one, fax, on the Mail and Telephone Preference Society lists that will stop direct mailers based in the UK from contacting you.
You then know cold callers are from overseas regardless of their telephone number.
Police your email and put rubbish mails in your spam folder and just ignore them.
Do not give money, card or bank details or passwords to anyone you do not know and trust.