Managing finances

Take care of your money by knowing how to spot and avoid scams

By Siobhan Peirce

Posted 29th Jan 2024

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Our partners, Risk Evolves, have worked with us to compile this guidance on how to spot and avoid threats to our cyber security.

As cyber security professionals work tirelessly to improve the security of our online accounts, cyber criminals continually change their tactics to stay ahead of us. Instead of trying to beat the security we put in place, they often try to beat us, the people.

How do they do it? Sometimes, they will pretend to be your bank, a police officer, your financial advisor, a government agency such as HMRC, or even a trusted family member. These attacks are known as ‘spoofing’ and they involve the impersonation of a trusted party in order to steal your information or money. Knowing how to spot these attacks may seem daunting but with our tips, you can quickly learn to stay one step ahead.

Protect yourself and your family

  • Do not trust an unknown caller – When you receive a call, your phone works hard to let you know who’s calling before you pick up. This technology is great because it allows you to answer calls from your loved ones, while ignoring unwanted calls. However, sometimes cyber criminals can trick this technology into believing they are calling from a company when they are not. An example of this is when cyber criminals trick your phone to showing you that your bank is calling. 
  • Do not share personal information – if you do receive a call from a scammer, they may ask for security codes or personal information which help secure your account. It’s imperative to keep this information secure, do not share it with anyone. Digital codes are similar to the door keys of your front door. Once a cyber criminal is inside, it can be too late.
  • Do not feel pressurised into acting quickly – scammers will often want you to act quickly, they will often try to create a sense of urgency so you don’t have a chance to think about what is happening or give you a chance to ask for help. For example, they may tell you that your bank account has been compromised, or that money has been stolen. If you feel under pressure and they’re forcing you to make a quick decision, it’s likely to be a scam. 
  • Do learn how your trusted companies contact you – Many banks know that cyber criminals attempt to impersonate them, therefore legitimate banks will never attempt to call you out of the blue. This is important because any unsolicited call from your bank can be treated as a scam. If they need to communicate with you, they will likely send a letter or an email. 
  • Do use your answerphone service – using your answerphone service to screen calls is a great way of giving yourself time to check the number that is calling and consider whether a call is genuine.
  • Do put the phone down – If you are unsure as to if the person contacting you is a scammer, it’s always okay to put the phone down. If it is a legitimate caller, they will likely contact you another way. Try using the company’s website to find a help number to ring. Your bank may have a fraud department you can call for advice and reassurance. Friendly customer support staff will always understand and try to help.
  • Do check the line after hanging up – these types of scams can keep your phone line open even after you’ve hung up. Use a different phone if you need to call someone immediately, call someone you know first to check if the line is free or wait a few minutes between calls to make sure that the call has been ended.
  • Do report it – or you think you may have fallen victim to a scam then please always ask for help immediately. If you believe your money is at risk, then please speak to your bank or financial institution immediately. The sooner you act, the quicker things can be resolved, and your accounts protected.
  • Do ask for help – Finally, if you are ever in doubt, please ask for help. There is a wealth of professionals and friendly faces that are able to assist you. It might be that you have a friend or family member who understands how to stay safe, you may know someone who is a technology whiz who can help set up your answerphone service or reach out to a professional. There’s lots of help and support out there!

Useful sources of guidance

Ofcom – To stay up to date with the latest advice, the telephone and communications regulator Ofcom, constantly updates their advice on how to spot new spoofing scams.

Citizens Advice – the UK’s network of independent charities offers confidential advice online, over the phone, and in person. They offer a whole host of advice from checking if something might be a scam, how to report them, and where you can get emotional support if you have been scammed, and you can even visit them in person if you’d rather chat to a real person.

Action Fraud – the UK’s reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime – offer excellent advice on protecting yourself from fraud and cyber-crime. They can also help if you find yourself a victim of fraud or cybercrime.

The UK government website also contains information on how to report suspected spam calls and emails.

Age UK – If you have an elderly or vulnerable friend or family member, Age UK offer some simple and effective advice on their website. You can also call the Age UK Advice Line for more information on 0800 678 1602. They’re open 8am to 7pm, every day of the year.

Our partners, Risk Evolves, worked with us to compile this guidance and we hope you’ve found it useful.

As for clients of Emery Little, we will rarely call you without emailing first but if you are ever in doubt, we recommend you hang up and call the office number directly to double check.