How can I protect myself from scams?

How can I protect myself from scams?

Don’t let the scammers con you. Follow these tips to avoid getting tricked out of your money.

Be sceptical

First and foremost, remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be afraid to bin it, delete it or hang up.

Take your time

Resist pressure to make a decision right away. Consider asking a friend or family member for advice, or even an accountant or solicitor if big sums of money are involved. Read the small print and be sure you understand all the terms and conditions of an offer.

Know who you’re dealing with

Check that the firm or organisation you want to deal with is legitimate and reputable:

  • Ask for full contact details, including a street address. A company website should provide the full street address for the business, not just a Post Office or mail box number.
  • Contact them using details from their official website or documents. Be wary of buying from anyone who only gives an email address or mobile phone number.
  • Put the firm’s name into an internet search engine to see what you can find out.
  • Look them up on the Companies House website to check they’re a registered company.
  • If you’ve received a letter or other mailing, check whether it’s come from a member of the Direct Marketing Association.
  • If you’re being offered financial services, find out if they’re registered with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) using the FSA register.
  • Don’t be fooled by professional-looking websites and marketing materials. Scammers are good at making their scams look authentic.

Protect your financial information

  • Never give your bank account details to someone you don’t know.
  • The Card Watch website has tips on protecting yourself against credit and debit card fraud.

Protect yourself online

  • Follow basic advice for safe online shopping and banking. Read guidance from the Get Safe Online and Bank Safe Online websites.
  • In particular, never email anyone your financial information – even if you do know them.

Use a credit card

Pay by credit card if you can. Under the Consumer Credit Act, you should be entitled to a refund from your card issuer of money lost through fraudulent activity – if the cash price of a single item is over 100.

Cut junk mail and calls

Take some simple steps to cut the number of unsolicited offers you receive.

Ask for advice and report it

If you suspect you’ve been had by a scam, don’t let embarrassment or fear prevent you from seeking advice or reporting it. Millions of people are taken in every year. You can report scams to Action Fraud, the police or trading standards.

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