Neighbourhood Watch Alert November 2015

Cyber Crime and Scams
I am sure you have all been following the attack on ‘Talk Talk’ by hackers as yet unidentified or prosecuted. The company have admitted that customer personal and bank details have been compromised but insist that the bank and credit card details that they hold are insufficient to permit a direct bank fraud without additional information.
However, possession of even partial bank details (including of course the name of the bank), allows the scammer to make a much more plausible pitch to the victim. The scammer’s objective is to obtain the missing information together with security codes and passwords. Alternatively they attempt to get access to the victim’s computer to take money from their account.
Paul Lewis of BBC’s Money Box was describing one such attempt this morning on television. The target became suspicious and actually recorded the call, not before he had gone part way to giving computer access. Part of the pitch, which got the victim interested, was that he might be eligible for £200 compensation from Talk Talk (not true). Most telephone scams include a financial incentive, long before the advent of computers it was the con man’s oldest trick. Now they fall into carrot or stick categories, either ‘you can get; compensation, tax rebate, lottery win’ or ‘you may have been defrauded and could lose money’.
Remember, legitimate companies never call you and ask for financial details over the phone. Keep bank and credit card security numbers handy (they are usually on the back of your cards) and if in doubt hang up on the caller and check directly.
Pension Scams
I wondered how long it would take fraudsters to try to capitalise on the changes to pension legislation which took effect in April this year. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has been alerted to a pension scam whereby cold callers continue to target members of the public aged 50 to 60 years old to release and transfer their pension early. Suspected firms who advertise and arrange pensions are offering investments in alternative commodities such as hotel developments or property in Cape Verde, and operate as unregulated collective investment schemes.
Often, the cold calling ‘pension companies’ involved are neither regulated nor qualified to give financial advice and classify themselves as a ‘trustee’, ‘consultant’ or an ‘independent advisor’ and offer exceptionally high return rates for investors.
Protect yourself:
Further advice can be found at:
http://www.fca.org.uk/your-fca/documents/protect-your-pension-pot
http://www.fca.org.uk/consumers/financial-services-products/pensions/protect
http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/individuals/dangers-of-pension-scams.aspx

Ensure that you request that the risks and growth rates are explained and that you fully understand them before transferring your pension
Remember if the offer seems too good to be true, then it generally is!
David James

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