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News Article

Scam adverts – what to look out for

Published 22 April 2016 by

Think you could spot a scam advert if you came across one? If you’re confident that you could, you’re not alone. In a study by Citizens Advice, three out of four people said that they would be confident they could spot a pension scam. However, when they took a test, the majority of people were unable to.

To make sure you’re aware of what a scam advert contains and how to spot one, we’re going to walk you through the tell-tale signs.

Could you spot one?

Citizens Advice asked more than 2,000 people whether they thought they would be able to identify a fraudulent offer. They were presented with three mock adverts (two fake and one genuine) and asked them which advert they would trust if they were looking for help with their pension.

The scam adverts showed the types of tricks fraudsters use to attract their victims. These featured the promise of free financial advice, high investment returns of 10 or 15 per cent as well as access to your pension before you turn 55 (something you’re unable to do).

One of the adverts also had false information that could seem legitimate at first glance, mentioning the ‘Government Pensions Department’ instead of the ‘Department for Work and Pensions’.

Of those that took the survey, 88 per cent said they’d trust one of the wrong adverts. Almost the same amount of people (87 per cent) who expressed confidence at being able to identify scams selected one of the two wrong adverts.

Among those that chose the wrong advert, some 64 per cent went for the advert which featured the highest investment return rate of 15 per cent. This could suggest that people are more tempted by offers promoting the biggest financial rewards.

Tell-tale signs

It’s not just fake pension adverts that could trip you up. False adverts can be produced for a number of different scams, including recruitment fraud. To make sure you don’t fall for a scam like this, remember the following tips.

• Look out for any high-pressure wording such as ‘act now’ or ‘before it’s too late’. These are included to encourage you to act impulsively.

• Be wary of any adverts containing contact details that include mobile numbers beginning with 07 or web addresses with @yahoo or @hotmail. Genuine businesses won’t use these.

• Don’t be tempted by adverts for business opportunities that claim you can earn a specific amount of money for little work e.g. ‘earn £1,000 a month for doing nothing’.

• Research the company or business advertising to see whether they have an online presence. Check to see if they’ve had any complaints from former customers or employees.

• Anyone giving financial advice should be registered on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) online register. Use this to check that a company is genuine.

Remember, the most important piece of advice is if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

Think you’ve fallen victim to an advert scam? Report it to Action Fraud using their online tool.