Be careful, it could be a scam…
We’ve all had the emails; an unknown person claiming to be from Nigeria and offering to transfer a fortune to us, provided we can first cover some relatively small costs to process the transfer…definitely like a scam
A lot of people were caught out and fell for the scam when these emails first started coming through in the 1990’s,. It’s easy to understand why. Email wasn’t yet well established and scams like this weren’t well publicised. So to receive an email that included professional looking documents making the promise look genuine, why would you question it?
The thing is, we all want to improve our lives and at some point we have all dreamt of what it would be like to inherit a fortune out of the blue. When someone then offers to make this dream come true, we often throw all logic out the window. And there’s a simple reason for this: we’re conditioned to follow the path of least resistance.
There has to be an easier way to do it…
This was evidenced by a piece of research conducted by a Harvard professor. He recruited a group of subjects who would typically unwind at the end of a day by sitting on the sofa and watching TV. His experiment involved two rules: All subjects must keep a book on the sofa at all times, and secondly, when they go to bed each night they must take the batteries from the TV remote and leave them in their bedside drawers until the following evening.
The aim of the test was to see whether people would choose to read or go up to their bedrooms and retrieve the batteries. What the professor found with almost all individuals was that initially they would make the effort to retrieve the batteries. However, within a very short period of time their behaviour changed and they would instead choose to pick up the book, thus following the path of least resistance.
Finding a quicker or simpler way to do something is seen as a positive in many aspects of life. But where finances are concerned often the opposite is true. Going back to the inheritance scam mentioned above, thankfully as time has gone on people have become more aware, and so the number of victims has dramatically decreased.
Whilst this scam is now well publicised, unfortunately plenty of others have taken its place, with many much more subtle.
Who to trust…
We, as financial Advisers often hear about stories of fraud and people being conned out of money by dishonest individuals. It’s therefore no surprise that recent research by the Financial Conduct Authority found that only 39% of people say they trust Financial Advisers.
At Furnley House, one of the driving reasons behind the formation of the company was to make a positive difference to the lives and futures of family members and friends. That was in 2013 and our outlook is the same today. Family, friend or other doesn’t make a difference, we look after all our clients the same way, instinctively knowing and doing what is right; always putting your needs first.
Avoid being a victim
So how can you make sure you don’t become the victim of a scam? Here are our five top tips:
1. Be alert to the fact that scams exist. When dealing with uninvited contacts from people or businesses, whether it’s over the phone, by mail, email, in person or on a social networking site, always consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam.
2. Know who you’re dealing with. If you’re unsure of the legitimacy of a business or person, take some time to do some research. Likewise if you get a message that appears to come from someone you know but seems unusual or out of character for them, contact them directly to check that it’s genuine. Remember, your bank will never phone you to ask for your PIN or your online banking password.
3. Keep your personal details secure. Shred your bills and other important documents before throwing them out. Keep your passwords and pin numbers in a safe place. Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social media sites. Scammers can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity or to target you with a scam.
4. Be wary of unusual payment requests. Scammers will often ask you to use an unusual payment method, including preloaded debit cards, gift cards, iTunes cards or virtual currency such as Bitcoin.
5. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Simply put, if you haven’t bought a ticket – you can’t win it. And like the Nigerian inheritance scam, you shouldn’t have to pay anything to claim your prize. Be aware of claims such as ‘exploiting secret loopholes’, such as accessing your pension before age 55. If there is a loophole, it’s usually illegal otherwise it wouldn’t be a secret.
Don’t be afraid to ask
As a client, you can rest assured that if any unusual or fraudulent behaviour is suspected, we’ll always check and will do what we can to avoid you being involved in a scam. We also encourage you to speak to us if you think anything is suspicious or does not feel right.