Latest update: 09/01/23
Financial fraud and related scams can cause havoc with your finances, not to mention the stress they can undoubtedly put you under. We want to keep everyone ahead of the game when it comes to frauds, scams and the latest tricks criminals are using to get into finances and accounts that don’t belong to them. We’ve put this page together to keep you sharp and informed, keep your finances safe and update you with the latest warnings and advice as we learn about them.
If you have any concerns or questions about scams and fraud, or if you want to report an incident, you can reach out to Action Fraud. They are the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime in the UK.
Call 0300 123 2040 or visit Action Fraud.
Update: Fraud tactics to be aware of in 2023
As more and more business moves online, and more of our finance is handled in the digital world, scams and fraud attempts have followed. This year we want you to continue to be safe financially, so here’s a summary of the key frauds and scams to be aware of:
- Utility bills and other costs are at the front of people’s concerns. Fraudsters are sending fake messages and contacting victims to try and encourage them to make payments or give up Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Always verify who you are speaking to, and if in doubt, contact the company or your bank directly to raise your concerns.
- Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud is designed to trick victims into making payments they believe are legitimate, usually through bank transfer. These could appear as fake bill payment messages, fraudulent requests to authenticate payments on hold or setting up new payments pretending to be utility companies or similar.
- Cluster fraud earned this name due to each victim being targeted with multiple scams at once. They may be presented with a “too-good-to-be-true” situation such as an investment or a mysterious new romance. A scammer will back this up with fake bank communications or utility scams with stolen Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of the victim. Always trust your instincts – if a situation seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Digital Identity fraud is where someone is impersonating a victim with stolen information, usually to take out credit cards, loans etc. They then disappear with the money, leaving the victim often thousands of pounds in debt. To protect against this, make sure all your passwords and other verifying information is protected, private and strong, and report key missing items immediately such as your driving license or bank cards.
Update: Keeping safe over Christmas
We want you to be safe over the festive season, and that unfortunately means being extra vigilant for scams. As Christmas shopping ramps up, scammers try to take advantage of people through fake websites, knock-off goods, and using people’s rush to buy last-minute gifts as a way to get hold of personal information. They rely on you trying to complete purchases quickly without doing any due diligence, hoping that you miss the warning signs.
- Make sure you are confident in the website you are buying from – stick to retailers you know and trust.
- If it is a new website that you haven’t bought from before, research them. Use review sites and customer reports to see if they are to be trusted
- If buying from social media, make sure you have buyer protection. Avoid bank transfers or payment methods that won’t leave you protected.
- If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is! Trust your gut.
- Be aware of emails and messages that pretend to be from a company you know – be vigilant in checking who you receive communications from.
Update: Scammers targeting borrowers – fake website
We want to make sure you are fully aware of some concerns we have regarding a potential scam website. It has been brought to our attention that scammers are attempting to defraud borrowers by directing them to a fake version of our site. Please note that this is not in any way affiliated with us and the address is subtly different to our own site.
- Our main homepage is aro.co.uk. Anything under this domain that you can reach from this page is us, and safe. If a link you have been given does not match this or you doubt a link you have been given is legitimate, you can navigate to this site independently to check or contact us and we can confirm if you’re dealing with us.
- Be aware of domain switches. Specifically, the section after a website’s name, in our case “.co.uk” as you can see in your address bar. Scammers may create fake websites where this is switched, such as changing it to “.com” or “.uk”.
- Keep an eye out for spelling or structure mistakes in the name. Only one copy of a particular website name can exist, so scammers may try to make a website name that isn’t noticeably different unless you look for it.
- Aro will never contact you to ask you for an upfront payment or to set up direct debit payments to us. Any payments related to the money you have borrowed will be clearly outlined in your agreement. If something doesn’t feel right, stop and contact us.
- If you have any doubts about who you are dealing with, contact us directly rather than through any links provided to you. We always see it as a positive when people make sure they are safe and will happily assist in any way we can.
We are investigating the situation, and if you have concerns or have been a victim of fraud we encourage you to please Call 0300 123 2040 or visit Action Fraud, who are the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime in the UK. You can also contact the police using the non-emergency line.
Update: Scammers targeting borrowers – fake upfront payments
Make sure you’re aware of tactics used by scammers when taking out loans or other credit forms. Scammers are contacting borrowers whilst pretending to be their loan provider or broker, with the aim of getting the victims to set up direct debits or provide an upfront payment to start their loan repayments. This money then disappears. Aro will never ask you for an upfront payment, or to set up direct debit payments to us, so if you receive a request like this please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can address the issue as soon as we can.
- Aro will never contact you to ask you for an upfront payment or to set up direct debit payments to us
- If your loan provider wishes you to set one up, this should have been explained to you and agreed as part of your loan agreement. If someone contacts you to change this (especially immediately after you take out the loan), it should be taken as a red flag, and you should contact the company directly to confirm.
- If you have any doubts of the legitimacy of the request, contact the company directly rather than through any links provided to you in the communication you receive. They will confirm if anything is required of you.
Update: Scammers targeting borrowers – fake investments
Scammers are active in the UK and are trying to get people to take out loans and share the funds. They are contacting people offering ” amazing investment opportunities” or urgent projects. In reality, the scammers will disappear as soon as the money is handed over, leaving the victim responsible for making the loan repayments.
- Only take out loan payments for yourself, never on behalf of someone else.
- Only take out a loan for a valid purpose, and always be clear about what that intended purpose is.
Update: Fake energy support emails
We’re all feeling the squeeze, especially when it comes to energy prices. You should be alert for scammers attempting to take advantage of this situation, as there have been over 1500 reports to Action Fraud over fake emails. These emails pretend to be from Ofgem, and are designed to get you to provide personal details that you think will grant access to energy rebates and other financial support. In reality, your details are then stolen and used by the scammers to access private information and finances.
- Stop to check if the email is genuine. Ofgem will never push you into handing over your details.
- If you are unsure, reach out to your energy provider. They have clear, regulated steps they must take for energy financial support, and will guide you through anything needed.
- Check for spelling, grammar or context mistakes (some fake emails accidentally said “2020” instead of “2022”) to help you identify fake emails
- Check eligibility and requirements on the government website if you are unsure
Update: New Covid variant test kits
Scammers are sending out messages that fake message from health services pretending to flag a close proximity to new Covid variants, and offering the latest test kits. These messages come with a link that also requests bank details for postage.
- Proximity notices will come from official sources only, and would never ask for any bank details
- If in doubt, navigate to an official NHS or similar app or site to see if the proximity claim is correct. Follow official channels for requesting test kits.
Update: Mobile messaging scam
Many scam tactics rely on generosity and trust from individuals in order to trick them. Ine tactic currently active is for a victim to be contacted via message on Whatsapp or similar messaging apps, with a scammer pretending to be a relative that has a new number or has lost their phone. Once added, the scammer will then pretend to need money, usually claiming an accident, an emergency or an unexpected bill, hoping that the victim will trust them and hand over money.
- Take time before you respond to a message like this. Does it make sense? Is it possible for the person to be in that situation?
- Remember that scammers rely on you not making checks to be sure you are safe.
- Contact the person through their original number, or a family friend to see if they really have got a new number
- Get them to send a voice message, and try to hear their voice so that you can confirm it is them
- If in doubt, block the number until you can be sure. If you confirm that it isn’t them, report it to Action Fraud immediately.
Simple financial safety
There are some simple habits that you can pick up to help keep your finances secure. We’ve summarised the key points so you can help protect yourself from getting caught out.
Phishing is where cybercriminals try to get you to hand over personal details by tricking you. They usually send an email or text message that pretends to be your bank or other legitimate company, with a link included.
- Never click any unexpected link in an email or text without confirming it is safe. Whilst some companies will market their products to you this way, scammers will try to fake these communications to trick you.
- Look for spelling or grammar errors and double check email addresses and websites to make sure they match. Scammers may add extra dashes or underscores that could be missed at first glance.
- Email and phone numbers can be spoofed to seem real, so don’t only rely on that to verify them. Make other checks to be confident you know who is contacting you.
- “Approve a payment”, “parcel waiting” or “update your details” are common messages used by scammers to try to make you concerned about something and distract you. Don’t rush into it.
- If you doubt an email or text is legitimate, contact the company directly about it. Any legitimate company will never take issue with this, as it protects them too.
- Your bank or financial institution will never ask you to provide PINs, passwords or personal login details. If in doubt, navigate to their site independently and log in to check.
Amazing deals (that actually aren’t)
Often scams appear to be fantastic offers, low prices and exclusive deals, at least on the surface. In reality scammers will say anything if it makes you pay attention and these deals are usually completely untrue. Be wary of newly created companies or those contacting you out of the blue.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is – how does it compare to other companies? Use comparison sites and shop around.
- Do your own research on companies and offers – even if legitimate, are they right for you? Don’t be pressured into choosing one company.
- Be wary of “limited time” pressure tactics that try to get you to rush in without thinking, as scammers will rely on you not reading fine print or missing key details.
- Check a company’s history – are they a registered company, and are they highly rated on Trustpilot?
Your personal details are a scammer’s first stop when trying to access your finances. The more they have, the easier they are to get into. Protect yourself by being savvy about how you handle personal information.
- Never give out PINs, login information, passwords or other secure details
- Keep passwords strong and varied from one account to another
- Read through any agreements, and never sign anything or be rushed without checking it
- If you think your information may be stolen, contact Action Fraud immediately
Companies spend a lot of time and money making themselves appealing to customers, but you should always do your research on them to make sure they are safe to use. Any legitimate company will never take issue with you verifying their identity and whether you can trust them.
- Be sure you trust the companies you deal with – Google and review sites are a useful start
- Financial companies can be checked against the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) register
- Other regulated industries will have similar restrictions and registers to help you verify
- Verify company details independently – it doesn’t count if they call you back or put you through to a senior member of staff
- Check a company’s history, because a brand new company is a bigger risk. Was the company only recently set up, or not registered at all? Is there a limited online presence?
- Any red flags should make you stop and check their credentials. Verify who you are dealing with before you proceed.
If there isn’t a way for you to be sure your payment is secure, don’t send it. Bank transfers and PayPal’s Friends and Family payment methods have no guarantee or protection for you. This means if something goes wrong, your money may be lost completely. Always use a payment method that helps protect you.
- Double check all details before sending money, and keep a record of account numbers and contact details in case you need to refer to them.
- Bank transfer payments and other methods with less protection should be avoided. Use secure payment methods and set up direct debits rather than pay over the phone if you can.
- Be wary of upfront payment requests. Only set up direct debits or secure, protected plans which your bank will be happy to help you create.
- Scammers may try to claim your payment method won’t work for them, or will incur fees. This is not your concern or issue, and it is usually a sign to walk away.