The Government recently announced new measures to prevent Britons avoid pension scams when transferring funds. However, there are still plenty of dangers for people to watch out for so that they do not lose their hard-earned pension money.
In 2020, fraud cost the UK over £130billion – that’s around £6,000 per second. As detecting legitimate messages and websites becomes harder, the financial risks become even more grave.
For those less comfortable with using digital tools, worrying about someone stealing their money or their data can be frightening and debilitating. If the worst happens, it can be devastating.
Cyber criminals are finding increasingly inventive ways to trick people. So how are people to know what’s real and what is fake?
Professor Kerensa Jennings, Senior Adviser, Digital Impact at BT Group has spoken to Express.co.uk, sharing her advice on the most common scams to look out for, which she says comes in three forms.
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“Phishing is a type of internet scam, usually taking the form of an email, where scammers try to trick you into giving away personal information or bank details. It’s a method that scammers use to steal money, commit fraud, or even install harmful software onto your device.
“Phishing is an example of a wider online threat known as social engineering, the manipulation of people into performing actions or giving away confidential information. Cyber criminals are often behind these scams and could pretend to be your pension provider and assume that you would be expecting to receive an email about it.”
“Smishing is when scammers send text messages that trick you into giving away information including personal or financial details. Text scams are growing increasingly difficult to spot; make sure to check to see if the URL looks suspicious – if it’s made up of random letters and numbers, it’s probably not a legitimate link.
“As more people spend time on their mobiles and use it for important life admin, smishing is growing in popularity. In the first three months of 2021 there was a 61 percent increase in smishing attacks in the UK.
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“Vishing is the name for phone calls where scammers try to obtain your personal information. They often pretend to be from companies you know, recognise and trust. These scams are designed to scare you into responding by holding you on the phone and conveying a sense of urgency over your decision.
“It’s likely you or someone you know will have experienced a vishing scam. More than 60 percent of UK landline users state they get one scam call per week on average.”
So how can people learn to spot these scams and avoid falling into their traps? Fortunately, there are clues that can give it away. Identifying these characteristics to avoiding getting duped could help people to stay safe.
“Have you ever received a call, email or text informing you that a service you rely on is about to be cut off? The aim is to get you to act quickly, without thinking about what might happen if you click the link, open the attachment or give away personal information.
“This is one of the most important things to be aware of when you get a phishing, vishing or smishing scam. Stop and think before you act.”
Out of the blue
“Often scammers send thousands of emails in the hope of catching someone out. You might think, ‘Why am I receiving this email or message, it doesn’t make sense and I wasn’t expecting it.’
“Be aware and ask yourself – did I place an order from that shop, or was I expecting a delivery? Or why is my bank, the NHS, HMRC, or an internet company contacting me like this? Do not open emails or click links on messages you weren’t expecting.”
Too good to be true
“Scammers may use the temptation of a prize to get you to engage with them over text, email or even a phone call. They might want you to click a link or give away personal information. Be cautious, because if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.”
“Almost all phishing attempts will claim to be from a trusted source, such as a friend, colleague, Government agency or company.
“Is the source contacting you in the usual way? Are they talking or writing as you’d expect them to? Or asking you to do something unexpected, like maybe transferring money or buying a gift card for a friend?
“Be aware, if you feel unsure or suspicious, use a different method to contact them. Ring them directly from another phone or find contact details from a website you trust.
“When you check them out, avoid using any information they’ve given you within the suspicious comms, such as contact numbers or links to websites. Check with a friend or family member before parting with any personal or banking information. It’s always worth that extra double check.”