Where once the most cowardly of criminals duped the vulnerable and naïve on the doorstep, like much else, they’ve now gone digital.

And while the stereotypical image of a 'scam victim' may be someone elderly and befuddled, in reality, the range of people who can be duped includes all of us: even those who believe themselves wise to any attempted con.

By social media, text, email and recorded phone call, thieves have crowded into cyberspace, hugely expanding their reach while doing so.

My colleagues and I here at Punter Southall Aspire have regularly raised our voices to join the financial services industry effort to engage, alert and educate consumers against this ever more sophisticated menace.

It could be you

Many of us pursue busy, distracted and pressured lives. And if you’re only half concentrating, these are the ideal conditions for you to click on an authentic-looking link as you scan your phone while accepting yet another parcel delivery.

Whether a friend or family member has fallen victim, or you’ve simply read the many news articles highlighting the high number of Covid-related scams, the pandemic has emphasised that everyone can fall victim to scams. We all need to take the time to be more vigilant, or run the risk of being taken in.

That said, we are making headway. There is regulatory, industry and media cooperation highlighting the increasing danger of scams. Sunlight is the best disinfectant and we’re seeing a shared sense of urgency to give people as much transparent, relevant information as possible.

Although the internet has enabled more opportunities to defraud, the positive flipside is the wealth of sound advice to guard against such a misfortune (listed at the end of this post). We can all take a few minutes to remind ourselves of the principles to bear in mind. As part of our communications work for employers, we regularly deliver presentations to staff which include ways to stay scam smart when it comes to their pension, for example.

For me, it’s part of a broader theme on which I’ve blogged a number of times – financial education.

Literate about numeracy

Financial literacy is something I’ve long backed, argued for and for which I’ve campaigned as a trustee of The Money Charity.

This (Investopedia) definition sums it up: Financial literacy is the ability to understand and effectively use various financial skills, including personal financial management, budgeting, and investing. The lack of these skills is called financial illiteracy.

The last sentence is particularly apt for this blog post. I believe that those of us with even a summary knowledge stand a much better chance of not falling for these sneak thieves.

Far from just being able to compare interest rates meaningfully, and confidently look after your money, this kind of preparedness also has a use that’s been potentially overlooked: by forging stronger links with your finances, you can potentially help to protect yourself from fraud and cybercrime, which continues to thrive where our lives intersect with technology.


For more information:

The Money Advice Service

Financial Conduct Authority

Scam Smart

Posted by Steve Butler

Topics: financial wellbeing, Financial Education

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