How to stay safe from scams

How to stay safe from scamsOne of my colleagues is currently working with a couple who appear to have received a pretty raw deal from their previous adviser.

At best, they’ve been on the receiving end of some sub-standard investment advice. At worst, they’ve been scammed.

Time will tell which it is and whether they can recover some or all of their original investments.

This particular set of bad investment advice didn’t come from cold-calling, but scams often do.

Citizens Advice has released some new research which found fraudulent banking services, dodgy credit brokers and bogus investment opportunities are the most common cons at the of a cold-call.

Two in five (41%) scams reported to the Citizens Advice service come from a cold-call.

This makes cold-calling the most common method of con reported to the national charity, followed by online scams at 18%.

Launching their Scams Awareness Month, Citizens Advice has highlighted how scams can flourish if they go unreported.

The consumer campaign, which is supported by Trading Standards, urges people to get advice if they think they have been scammed. Doing this also helps with the process of warning others which helps to stop scams from spreading.

The older you get, the more vulnerable you are to scammers. This is likely to be because you have more money as you get older, so become a more valuable victim in later life.

Citizens Advice found that nearly half of the scams reported to them were made by people over 55.

As a result, pensioners and those approaching retirement age are more at risk of scams, particularly in light of the recent pension freedom reforms introduced in April.

Citizens Advice offered the example of a 54-year old who was contacted by a cold call offering to release money from her pension pot, and narrowly avoided losing £30,000.

There are some simple rules to follow if you want to avoid being scammed.

Never part with your money as a result of a cold-call. Just hang up the phone.

If an offer seems too go to be true, it usually is. Use common-sense to evaluate what is on offer and keep in mind the unbreakable relationship between risk and reward.

Only ever take investment advice from someone who is properly qualified, authorised and regulated to give investment advice.

This means working with a professional adviser who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Make an independent check of the Financial Services Register before taking advice from someone who claims to be a financial adviser.

Stay safe out there.

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About Martin Bamford

Martin Bamford is a Chartered Financial Planner, Certified Financial Planner (CFP) professional and published personal finance author. He works with elderly clients to provide advice on funding residential care fees, hosts the Informed Choice Podcast and is a keen ultra runner.
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