There are a lot of means by which criminals running financial scams can help themselves to the hard earned cash in your bank account. Too often, the first we know about this kind of fraud or identity theft is when it affects our credit rating and impacts on our own ability to secure credit, or we get stuck with a massive bill. Either way, it’s something we all have to be mindful of.

Harrington Brooks Scam Advice

Below is a list of the top ten techniques for avoiding a scam  so you’re better equipped to keep yourself and your savings safe.

1. Keep a grip on your bank account.

Account takeover is where fraudsters impersonate you by gathering your personal information and then contacting your bank. This is essentially identity theft and while posing as you, they can transfer funds out of the account or change the address on your account and request replacement cards to be sent to the new address. So, shred any sensitive material and make a note of when your statements are due. If they’re delayed, it could mean they have been intercepted.

2. Be safe with pin numbers and passwords.

Don’t write down your Pin as you run the risk of fraud and if the worst were to happen, your bank could refuse to refund you as they believe you were negligent with your details. Never share your Pin with anyone and try to use different passwords for all your accounts.

3. Bring down your credit limits.

This is essentially an act of damage limitation. Reducing your limits can cap any potential losses if your cards are stolen. Keep an eye on lenders increasing your limit without your consent too. New laws will give you the power to opt out of these unwanted credit increases.

4. Cancel any cards you don’t use.

With 66 million credit cards in the UK and only 49 million adults, it stands to reason that people have more than one. Check what cards you don’t use anymore and cancel them. The fewer cards you have, the less likely you’ll be a victim of fraud.

5. Don’t get caught out a phishing scam.

“Phishing” is when an email is sent to you by fraudsters, claiming to be your bank. A favourite scam.Chances are, it’ll have your bank’s logo and give a return email that looks genuine. Normally, you’ll be warned about a breach of your account and to log in. Then you’ll be sent to a fake site that collects your details for the fraudsters. Your bank will not email you if your account has been breached, they’ll most likely phone or write to you. Always ensure you go to your bank’s website directly and don’t follow these links if you are suspicious

6. If in doubt – Google it..

if you have the slightest inkling that something is a scam, Google it and append the work scam. Changes are someone will have posted it in a forum or blog post to warn others.

7. Consider a pre-paid card.

You can just top up the card and use it like a credit or debit card, it has Chip and Pin so can be used securely in shops and you can use it to draw money from cash machines. It isn’t linked to a current account or credit card though, so you can’t over extend it. You’ll normally pay a fee to take out a prepaid card though.

8. Keep an eye on your statements

Get into the habit of going through your bank and card statements, rather than just tossing them aside. Your statement tells you exactly when and where the card has been used, so if it wasn’t you or there are any suspicious transactions, let the bank or card company know straight away.

9. Guard against viruses and malware.

Many banks offer free security software to protect your computer from attack. A virus will normally wait until you log in to your online banking and insert a dummy page. If you enter your personal data it will be sent via the virus to the fraudsters.

10. Keep a grip on your card.

Criminals can get hold of your card details by skimming the card through a special machine that stores the data. They then transfer the info to a fake card and use it in countries that don’t have Chip and Pin readers. Chip and Pin readers are hand-held so you can see what’s happening. They shouldn’t need to take your card anywhere.

Harrington Brooks are here to help you with a host of financial queries. If you’re worried about a scam, debt or other financial issues, stop by and get in touch with one of our dedicated debt advisers.