Spotting a financial scam
A scam is a deceptive scheme used to trick you out of your money, properties, or other types of assets you may own. It is not always easy to spot a con or scam. Scammers may pose as people, agencies, or companies you know and trust. Scams can occur over the phone, through the mail, over the internet, or in person, and you may not be able to spot the scam until it is too late. Some tips on how to recognise a scam:
- Asking you to act now – The key to successful impostor scams is getting you to send money before you find out who is really on the other end. The more time you have, the more likely you will figure it out. Resist the pressure to act immediately before you have checked out the matter.
- Contacted unexpectedly – When someone you have never heard of contacts you and asks for your personal information.
- Personal or account information – If you are a customer of a bank or financial firm, they will never call you and ask for personal details such as your identification card, account number or SMS log in number.
- Get rich quick money – Easy money does not exist, you are being conned into believing you will make a lot of money overnight if you transfer to the scammer.
Phishing is a type of internet fraud where scammers use email or text messages to trick you into giving them your private information (for example; username; password; account number; etc.).
The scammers will try to use this information to steal your identity and money from your bank accounts or other accounts where you hold assets. Phishing emails and text messages may look like they are from a company you know or trust. The scammer will try to trick you into opening a link or an attachment. Some signs that help you recognise a phishing email or text message:
- A claim there is a problem with your account or your payment information;
- A claim that you have just won money and you need to click to redeem it;
- An offer of a coupon for free things; or
- A request that you must confirm personal information.
You should never click on a link within an email that requests you to enter private information and never reveal your full password to an account to anyone if it is requested.
Website cloning is where a scammer creates a website that looks like one that you are familiar with. Any website can be copied, but banks and financial firms are the favourites of cybercriminals. The clone site can look exactly like the original one with a very small change in the URL, or web address. The aim of such websites, as with any other scam involving identify fraud, is to get you to provide them with personal information such as card details, addresses and emails to use the information fraudulently.
In the fake sites there could be references to the regulator and the firm, a fake company registration number as well as telephone numbers, contact details, which would direct you to a call centre in a foreign country with operators impersonating employees of the fake financial entity. Tips to keep in mind when dealing with a financial entity over the internet:
- Check details about QFC firms in the Regulatory Authority’s public register.
- Check on search engines for further information on the firm to search if it is legitimate.
- Never send your details by email or over the phone; always use a secure system using a login and password which are first verified by SMS or email.
Advertising – what you should expect
Financial advertisements and promotions should be clear, fair and not misleading. Financial services firms should clearly explain, in plain English, what the product or service is that they are advertising, how it works and how the consumer could benefit from it. The firm must also be clear about the costs involved and whether there are any risks to the consumers’ money.
Some questions to consider if you are looking at a financial advertisement include:
- Does the advertisement seem to be clear and fair?
- Do I understand what product or service is being advertised?
- Does the advertisement say which firm will be providing the product or service?
If you consider that a QFC firm has an advertisement that is unfair, unclear or misleading, whether at the time that you first see the advertisement or after buying a product or service, you can contact the Regulatory Authority and let us know.