Expert tips on how to avoid falling foul of criminals

● Do not respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial details. Fraudsters send these to steal email logins, passwords and banking details.

● If you’re purchasing goods or services from a company or person you have not bought from before, don’t know and trust, research it first. You can ask friends or family for advice before engaging in buying the goods or services.

● If you’re using a loan company you’re unfamiliar with or if the loan company asks for a upfront fee, talk to trusted friends or family members first.

● When it comes to your investments or pension, don’t make any rash decisions. Speak with trusted friends or family members and consider seeking professional independent advice from a reputable provider, such as the Pension Advisory Service.

● Never install software or assign remote access to your computer following a cold call. If you are looking for technical support, ask for recommendations from your friends and family and look for reviews online first.

● If as a business you receive a request to move money into a new bank account, contact the supplier directly through the contact details on its official website, then verify the payment request via these established contact details to corroborate the request.
Designate roles to a limited number of employees, who will be the only people to handle payment detail changes.

● Question unsolicited financial support by verifying the company or individual contacting you and take your time in making the decision to accept this financial offer of help for your charity or your beneficiaries.

● Protect your devices by installing the latest software and updates. The National Cyber Security Centre provides guidance on keeping devices secure and how businesses can reduce the risk of cybercrime with teams working from home

Protect Yourself in Three Steps

Last week, I looked at how scammers are spreading financial fraud during Covid-19.

To support people and help protect them from such scams, The National Crime Agency has developed a three-step plan to adopt when approaching any financial decisions, urging consumers to do the following:

Stop: before parting with your money or information that could keep you safe.

Challenge: ask whether it could be fake. The agency says that “it’s OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you”.

Protect: contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve been the victim of a scam and also report it to Action Fraud. This can be done online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

If your charity is a victim of fraud or cybercrime, report it to both Action Fraud and The Charity Commission

Offers of financial assistance apparently from HM Revenue and Customs can be reported to [email protected]

You can also get more support at Take Five to Stop Fraud, a national campaign that helps people protect themselves against preventable financial fraud. The campaign is led by trade body UK Finance and includes organisations in the UK payments industry, financial services firms, law enforcement agencies, telecommunication providers, as well as other commercial, public and third sector organisations.