Red flag alert: How to spot and avoid a scam

There’s no denying that financial scams suck. They can make you lose money and essentially affect your financial health. Now more than ever, with scams becoming more sophisticated it’s easy to fall victim. It isn’t always as easy as 123 to spot legitimate from illegitimate. We’re here to give you some tips that could help to spot scams and avoid them to protect your money and investments.

What are the giveaway signs of a scam?

If an opportunity sounds too good to be true

You’ve probably heard many “financial gurus” promising you the #laptoplifestyle where you can work from anywhere in the world and earn thousands just from buying their course or for only giving them 30 minutes of your day, “all you need is Wi-Fi”.If something seems too good to be true and huge returns are guaranteed to you from the get-go, it's likely to be a scam. Many investment scams, in particular, all usually guarantee high returns with very little 

risk or money - it’s how they intrigue people.

Random contact

If you receive any random, unexpected contact such as through email, text messages, or phone calls, it’s most likely to be a scam, especially those asking for personal information. This is because it’s unlikely that legitimate companies would reach out to you unexpectedly to ask for any personal details. If you’re ever unsure, you should hang up and contact the company directly. You should also be wary of clicking on any emails or links that you don’t trust.

If you are pressured

If you’re ever rushed into making any decisions - don’t. Chances are, it may be a scam as it’s unlikely that legitimate organisations or salespeople will push you into making instant decisions. Scammers, however, want you to feel that FOMO and that what they’re offering is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will make all your financial problems disappear (it won’t). They rush you into making rash decisions so that you don’t have any time to question things or opt-out.

It requires sensitive information 

Anything that requires any sensitive information such as your bank details, passwords, or your personal information is a major red flag. Legitimate organisations such as banks will never ask you to reveal your sensitive information. 

There are errors with spelling and grammar

This is where having a good eye for detail can come into play. If you read any messages from a random text message or email that is full of spelling or grammatical errors, it’s a big no-no, especially if the message is posing to be from an established company.

So, how can you avoid being a victim of scams?

Never give out your personal details

Unless you can confirm the identity of who they are, never share your personal information. As we touched on earlier, most legitimate organisations will never ask for you to reveal your personal information as they have other means to verify your identity or already have access to the information. With your personal information, scammers could potentially access your bank details, investments, pensions, or even apply for credit applications under your identity.

When in doubt, it’s best to ignore

If something makes you raise an eyebrow or be suspicious, such as receiving an email with the subject “I can teach you how to make £1M in 1 week”, you might want to listen to your gut. Ignore anything that gives you scam-vibes as it’s better to be safe than sorry. If a scammer is posing as an organisation you’re familiar with and you want to double-check, it’s best to contact the company directly if you have any concerns. 

Make sure you’re secure

Having digital devices comes with the risks of not-so-traditional scams, so it’s important that you’re using them safely. Here are a few pointers:

1. Websites: If you’re using a new website, double-check that everything seems legit. Are there any reviews? Are there any spelling or grammar mistakes? Is the website secure? Don’t make any payments unless you fully trust the website.

2. WiFi: Avoid using public Wi-Fi and only use your data on secure networks when you’re out and about.

3. Passwords: Make sure that your passwords are strong, remember to change them regularly, and use different passwords across different accounts.

It’s important to be cautious of scams. Knowing how to spot scams and avoid them will help keep you from losing your hard-earned money or affecting your financial position. Be sure to frequently check your credit score to make sure that your identity hasn’t been used for any credit applications which you don’t recognise, as this could negatively affect your credit score. 

If you have been a victim of a scam, inform your bank or credit card provider immediately.  

The following is for general information and is not intended as a form of financial advice by Finndon or its representatives, nor the information intended to be relied upon by individuals in making any financial decisions.