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How to Avoid 2018’s Biggest Scams

March 20, 2018, 12:00 PM
  • 8 most dangerous scams this year
  • How to stay safe online
  • Fake websites and social media scams are becoming more common
Scams target both your phone and your laptop in 2018. Image: Getty

Research from NatWest has identified some of the key ways in which fraudsters could try and con people this year, and how to avoid these traps.

The bank worked with research agency Future Laboratory to analyse scams and trends from the past 18 months, to predict how fraudsters will try and get your money in 2018.

Julie McArdles, NatWest security manager, said, “Scammers are dogged in their attempts to get their hands on people’s money, and are always looking for new ways to get ahead.

“This means banks and customers need to evolve alongside scammers too.

“By being aware and staying ahead of scammers, we can stop them winning and keep the country’s money safe and secure.”

To help you keep safe from scammers, NatWest said people should feel more confident about turning down unsolicited requests for personal information.

It said that is something feels wrong, then pause and question it, contacting your bank or building society if necessary.

A bank will never ask a customer to transfer money for fraud reasons of contact them out of the blue to ask for their Pin or full password.

What are the biggest scam trends this year?

Social Media

Scammers can spy on your social media activity, and it is very easy to gather information on someone through their social media accounts.

To help prevent this- be aware of how much information you post on social media, and always check the source of links you click.

Malicious Software on Smartphones

As the majority of the population uses smartphones, scammers are creating software that specifically targets phones, which can get on to a phone through websites you access on your phone, similar to a computer.

To avoid this- you can get security apps and antivirus software for your phone, or just be careful about what links and apps you use, checking them before accessing them.

Bogus Brexit Investments

Fake investment opportunities have been around for years, but they are becoming more tailored to relevant events, and many are now focused on Brexit.

For example, scammers may email customers warning Brexit will affect their savings, and that they need to urgently move them into a fake investment account.

To avoid this scam- never transfer money into an account you do not know, and always investigate where the money is going to if you are considering investing in something.

Fake World Cup Tickets

Fraudsters will pray on world cup excitement, by selling fake football tickets or ‘package trips’ by a fake company.

To steer clear of this- only by your tickets from a legitimate company, and avoid buying tickets from other people on auction sites like eBay. If the price looks too good to be true on a package holiday, it probably is, so do some research before spending any money.

Money Mules

Mule recruiters may trawl social media for potential targets, mainly cash strapped students in university towns, and use them to inadvertently launder money.

Money mules receive stolen funds in their account, and are then asked to withdraw it and send the money to a different account, often overseas, keeping some of the money for themselves.

If you’re approached to do this- just say no, money laundering is illegal, and if it seems like that’s what is being asked of you, do not take up the offer up.

Wedding Excitement

Experts fear that couples planning weddings could be easy prey for scammers who tempt victims with extravagant offers at bargain prices.

Scammers can set up fake websites for elements of the big day, like venue hire, catering, or wedding dresses that appear very realistic, but will take your money and then disappear.

How to stop this scam- always meet with the planner before sending any more over, and if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Also do research into them, for example, find reviews or feedback from previous clients.

Romance Scams

Criminals create fake profiles to form a relationship with their victims, known as ‘catfishing’.

They use messaging to mine victims’ personal details to use for identity fraud, or will establish a relationship with the person and then ask them for money.

To avoid this- be wary of people you meet on the internet and do not transfer anyone money or share personal details if you do not know them

Scams aimed at first-time buyers

Computer hackers monitor emails sent by a solicitor to a first-time buyer, and then they pounce, pretending to be the solicitor and telling them the solicitor has change bank account details.

How to avoid- if you receive an email claiming this, call your solicitor or meet with them in person to check, and never transfer money to an unknown account.

over a year ago

Very useful. I'd also add the rise of Bitcoin and digital currency fraud. Many people who don't know what they're doing with these things can be conned online into handing over their hard cash for little more than a string of numbers. Google is clamping down on Bitcoin-related advertising, however it still remains a big problem. If you're interested in Bitcoin and that kind of thing, be very careful with the sites you use, checking multiple reviews first. Or, best of all, avoid completely!

This year, I've made a big effort to change all my passwords so that each one is randomly generated. It's much safer, although can sometimes be tricky to find. Hoping it helps in the long run.

Final tip, if you want to know whether you've been hacked, check the free website Have I been pwned? This website keeps a log of all data breaches, and you can type in your email address to see if it matches any of the known data leaks. If it's there, change your password!

lynp2009over a year ago

Well needed on site..

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