How to avoid the latest “Corona-Scams”
The Coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact on our society and the way we go about our lives, and you will have no doubt seen on the news the many issues arising, ranging from the lack of PPE supplies for front-line workers to the consumer rush on hand sanitiser and toilet rolls. Unfortunately, it is also likely that criminal and/or fraudster activities will heighten during periods of disruption, and a major event like the Coronavirus may result in new forms of scam activity coming into play.
At times like this it is natural for people to feel anxious, not only by the impact of the virus, but also concerns about the performance of your investments and pensions and your overall financial wellbeing. Rest assured, your Thorntons Investments Financial Planner/Portfolio Manager is always on hand to offer support and advice, and we urge you to speak to us before making any major financial transaction decisions.
Scammers can be articulate and can sound professional and financially knowledgeable. They may also have credible-looking websites, and materials that look extremely convincing. They use very sophisticated methods to persuade you to part with your hard-earned money, and they will attempt to obtain personal information in a variety of different ways. These criminally minded individuals are also very opportunistic, and this will also be intensified due to the current climate when many more people are vulnerable and isolated at home.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has highlighted some of the tactics currently being used by scammers:
- Any unexpected calls, emails or text messages from your bank, stating that it is in trouble due to the Coronavirus crisis, are likely to be scams trying to persuade you to transfer your money to a new bank with alternative banking details.
- Scammers might contact you claiming to be a claims management company, insurance company or credit card provider and offering to help you recover losses by submitting a claim, for example, for the cancellation of a wedding or holiday due to the Coronavirus. Their ultimate aim is to ask you to send them some money or your bank details.
- Lastly, scammers could use the uncertainty around the stock market, which has been extremely volatile in the recent months, and they may persuade you to invest or transfer existing investments into high return (and high risk) investments.
If you have experienced any unsolicited calls, emails or any other situation that you think is suspicious and has placed you in a vulnerable position, you can report the firm or scam to the FCA by contacting their Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768.
Thorntons Investments are always on hand to offer advice and guidance regarding your financial affairs. We are here to support our clients through these uncertain times. Stay safe, everyone, and we look forward to seeing you all again soon.