Protect Yourself

Scams and swindles are often so convincing that you do not realise that you are being conned until it is too late. Even if you think that you would never be fooled, make sure you remain skeptical about offers that seem too good to be true - they usually are.

But there are ways to avoid the scams.

1. Think hard before parting with your cash. If the deal on offer feels unofficial then consider why that is. Are you being asked to give out unnecessary or inappropriate details or does the offer sound like you could be doing something illegal? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, think carefully before you act.

2. Do not be tempted by offers where you have to pay in advance for something. These scams, including those telling you that a prize is waiting for you if you send some money, have become increasingly popular. Don’t be fooled.

3. Be wary of firms insisting that you pay in cash. Any legitimate business should accept payment by a credit or debit card, a cheque or bank transfer. And always ask for a full receipt - if you do not, you have no record of the transaction.

4. Seek independent financial advice if you are unsure about an investment or financial product. Investments carry risks, but you can understand those risks with the help of a professional regulated adviser.

5. Think carefully before entering into an investment solely on the recommendation of a member of an organisation or group that you belong to. This could be what is known as an affinity fraud.

6. Be wary when someone says to you that an investment opportunity is only available for a limited time and you should invest immediately or that you might "miss the boat". A classic con trick is to say that an investment will only pay out significantly to early investors.

7. Throw away chain letters and delete spam emails. If they contain any personal information - shred them. Ignore threats of bad luck if you do not continue the chain - they are simply attempting to scare you. Don’t let them.
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