Fraudsters are like dandelions; they grow in all parts of the world.

    Unfortunately because fraudsters are also opportunists, it's at times like these where they flourish and target individuals in their work and personal lives.

    Action Fraud has already reported a 400 per cent increase in reports in March – and this is just what has been reported. We need to be extra vigilant to protect our clients.

    We’re all suffering the effects of this global pandemic. 

    Now that we're subject to strict government measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19), it will be harder to maintain a physical face-to-face relationship with clients over the next few weeks or months.

    We need to do what we can to make sure this new way of working does not increase the risk of fraud. 

    With that in mind, here are some tips on how to protect yourself, your firm, your team and your clients against the heightened risk of fraud and scams:

    - Always double check that you're communicating with the correct person, as fraudsters can intercept emails.

    Check the email address is the same as previous correspondence and look out for changes in how the person talks - are they talking differently, stressing urgency, giving excuses that do not agree with your knowledge of them?

    Phone them and verify any transactions or communications with them personally.

    - Make sure you have the latest software and app updates installed to protect your devices from current threats.

    - Check up on elderly family members/ neighbours (through phone) and take the the time to remind them of the above.

    - Make sure that any documents clients send you via email are verified with them through another source.

    This may mean giving them a call, or better still, using a video messaging system such as Zoom. This is particularly important when it comes to clients wishing to change details or request withdrawals.

    - Continue to keep an eye out for scam messages, and encourage others to do the same.

    Don’t click on links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.

    - You may receive emails that offer fictitious 'safety measures' to safeguard against coronavirus. Be extra cautious about clicking on these.

    - If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase.

    If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.

    - If you must make a payment to a new recipient, send a test payment first, then call to verify its been received ok. Don’t place sole reliance on email, as they are open to interception.

    If we all follow these controls, and share this advice with others, we can all do our bit in reducing the likelihood that these fraudsters are successful.

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