As the world becomes more and more interconnected and we routinely use digital means of making payments, it’s more important than ever to be aware of the risks this can present.
From identity theft and fraud to cybercrime and money laundering, criminals have many different ways of targeting unsuspecting victims and obtaining their hard-earned cash. So what can you do to be more resilient in the face of this ever-evolving threat and make sure your money stays in your pocket?
Awareness is the first line of defence against financial crime, so make sure you’re keeping up-to-date. Have there been any high-profile security breaches recently? What tactics are fraudsters currently using? Have your friends raised the alarm about different types of scams? Make sure you’re staying educated and aware by getting information from trusted sources, from industry professionals to reputable media outlets, so you know what red flags you should be looking out for.
Secure your personal data
Be vigilant when it comes to safeguarding your personal information. For example, make sure your online accounts are protected with strong passwords, and rip up any details on paper documents before throwing them in the bin.
Set up two-factor authentication
Make your accounts even more secure by enabling two-factor authentication wherever you can, so there’s a second layer of security beyond your password, such as a code sent to your email address or smartphone.
Verify contacts and requests
Be wary of any unsolicited communications requesting personal details or immediate action, even if they initially appear to be legitimate. Fraudsters often target victims by impersonating organisations such as banks and building societies, so it’s vital that you verify the authenticity of whoever is calling or emailing you before sharing sensitive details or making any payments. If you aren’t sure whether a message is genuine, you can do this by not engaging with it and instead contacting the business using the contact details listed on their website. You can then easily verify if the message or call you received was genuine, and then proceed as normal if that’s the case. If you are responding to a phone call, make sure to use a different phone to call back. A fraudster may stay on the line and make you believe you have called the legitimate business.
Keep an eye on your accounts
Monitor your credit reports, bank statements and transaction histories regularly, so you can spot any unusual or suspicious activity sooner rather than later, and get it reported. Many financial services providers are very proactive in this field and will often send you alerts if they spot any activity that doesn’t seem quite right.
Only use secure devices and networks
If you’re making any financial transactions through devices such as laptops and mobile phones, make sure they’re as secure as possible. For example, are you using a secure and trusted network? Do your devices have updated security software and malware blockers? If the answer is no or you’re not 100 per cent sure, don’t make any payments through these devices.
Don’t click on suspicious links or attachments
Fraudsters will often try to steal personal information by sending phishing emails and setting up fake websites. Be cautious when clicking on links or downloading any attachments from an email if you aren’t sure where it’s come from or if it looks suspicious. Similarly, make sure you know that a website is authentic before you enter any sensitive information.
Be wary of lofty promises
Many fraudsters will target consumers, especially high-net worth individuals, by encouraging them to sign up for bogus investment opportunities that offer little risk and high returns. But as the old adage goes, if something appears too good to be true, it probably is, so exercise caution before committing to anything. Carry out detailed research to find out if an investment opportunity is genuine and if the investment firm speaking with you is legitimate.
Report anything suspicious
If you see anything unusual or suspicious, or if you’ve fallen victim to financial crime, report it immediately. By making sure relevant organisations and authorities are aware of the latest tactics being used by criminals, they’ll be in a stronger position to prevent others being targeted in the same way and investigate other cases of fraud.
If you have any questions about financial crime and making your money more secure, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team. We're always happy to help put your mind at ease.
It is important to take professional advice before making any decision relating to your personal finances. Information within this article does not provide individual tailored investment advice and is for guidance only. We cannot assume legal liability for any errors or omissions it might contain. Ethical Futures llp is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.