This content is for information and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as financial advice or investment advice. To receive tailored, regulated financial advice regarding your affairs please consult us here at Hanson Financial Services (financial advice in Liverpool).
Advances in technology are very welcome. Yet they also bring new opportunities for scammers to steal people’s life savings – especially pensions. Here at Hanson Financial Services, our financial planning team in Liverpool exists to help clients protect and grow their wealth and to assist them towards their goals. In this article, we offer 10 suggestions on how to protect your money from hackers, fraudsters and scammers. We hope this content assists you.
#1 Unsolicited contact
In 2019, the UK government banned cold calling about pensions – since this was identified as a key source of pension fraud. Yet it still happens, often perpetrated by companies overseas who are difficult to prosecute. Cold emails, texts and social media ads/messages can also be a risk. Make sure you know the individual/company already before responding.
#2 Withhold personal information
Never give out sensitive details such as bank account information to someone you have not met and do not know. Sometimes fraudsters tell elaborate stories about individuals in trouble and in need of immediate funds, to pressure you into parting with the information. Resist these tricks!
#3 Keep computer software updated
Do you have antivirus software on your laptop, tablet and smartphone? If so, have these been updated recently to ensure maximum protection against cyber threats? This is especially key now with so much banking activity taking place online.
#4 Check passwords
Do you use the same, simple password for most/all of your important accounts such as your workplace pension login, mobile banking and email? If so, then consider changing these to a strong set of passwords. If you think you will struggle to remember each of them, then consider a password manager like LastPass.
#5 Two-factor authentication
If someone breaks your passwords, what stops them from logging into your financial accounts? With two-factor authentication, you put one more crucial barrier in their way. When you log in, a prompt appears on your mobile device asking if this is you. To get past this hurdle, the hacker would need your physical device as well as your passwords – a much more difficult feat.
#6 Official registers
Any legitimate UK financial services company should have at least two registrations, which you can check easily online. The first is their FCA number (Financial Conduct Authority), whilst the second is their Companies House registration. Both can be looked up within minutes to check that the business you are dealing with is legitimate.
#7 Safe internet connectivity
If you want to log into your bank account or similar account using a public WiFi connection (e.g. in a cafe or airport), then you may want to think again – particularly if it is an open network. Here, there is a chance that someone could intercept your connection and steal information you are sending (e.g. passwords). Consider using your home WiFi or the 3G/4G on your device instead.
Another way to protect your connection from interception is to use a strong VPN (virtual private network). This allows you to send data which is routed through an encrypted virtual tunnel. It also hides your location and IP address from others, making you far less vulnerable to attacks. Some popular options to consider include ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
#9 Website security
Increasingly, web browsers are recognising the importance of establishing a secure connection between the user (i.e. the person looking at a website) and the website. This is even more important when the website involves sending/receiving sensitive data such as bank account login details. Here, make sure that the websites you visit are prefixed with “HTTPS” rather than “HTTP”, as the former is far more secure. Browsers like Google Chrome will also alert you if the website you are looking at is deemed “not secure”.
#10 Take care with links
If you receive an email, message or other notification from an unknown sender with a link to a website, think before clicking on it – especially if it claims to be from your bank or pension. Bear in mind that hackers can disguise the hyperlink, sending you to another website designed to look like your bank/pension scheme after you click on it. From here, they hope that you will try to log in and steal your information in the process. Instead, type in the website address yourself and navigate to the page in question, or search for it in a trusted search engine.
As you can see, much of preventing fraud in 2021 centres around taking great care with your online security and digital activity. Yet it is still common to hear of face-to-face fraud, even in our world defined by COVID-19 and social distancing. Never let yourself be pressured into a choice by a stranger, and try to trust your gut. If it tells you something is not right, it often is not.
Are you interested in talking to a financial adviser about your pension and investment planning needs? We’d love to assist you here at Hanson Financial Services.
Please contact us to arrange a consultation with our team – free and without obligation – to gain more clarity and peace of mind over your financial plan.
You can call us on:
Liverpool Office: 0151 708 7616
Manchester Office: 0161 401 0991
Chester Office: 01244 960 039
Or email via: [email protected]