Have you recently won the UK lottery? It’s amazing how many of us have! Actually, chances are none of us have won, particularly if we were notified by an e-mail or SMS, which also asks for our banking details. These kinds of scams end up in our mailbox more and more every day. But while sometimes they are obviously scams, at other times, it’s not always so clear:

• You get a phone call from someone saying he is with X Bank and wants some of your personal details in order to process a payment into your account. The caller already knows many of your details, which is both confusing and alarming.

• You receive an sms telling you that you are overdue on payment of your phone account, with the amount you need to pay and an account number to avoid having your service cut off.

We know that many of our clients are receiving these or similar dispatches; in fact sometimes we get phone calls from clients asking if an offer sounds like a scam.
While we are all becoming increasingly sceptical of communication that comes our way, there are still times when you are left wondering, is this legit or a scam? With the way banks and other businesses now work through the internet and mobile phones, all of us are forced to carefully evaluate our incoming communication. Scams can happen to any of us, and unfortunately the onus is on us to make sure we are not victimised.

At Veritas, we believe it’s always better to be safe than sorry. What can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones? Here are a few tips from the team:

• The best way to avoid becoming a victim of a scam is to share any concerns or experiences you’ve had with others – whether you do it face to face, by phone, SMS or e-mail, or by sharing information through social media platforms.

• It is sadly often the elderly who are targets, so it’s advisable to be open and discuss any strange e-mails or conversations that might have occurred with close family or friends, no matter your age.

• No one should ever give personal information, such as bank account, credit card or ID numbers to anyone over the phone, unless you have initiated the call and know you’ve reached the right organisation. Rather say: “I don’t give out personal information over the phone. I’ll contact the company directly.”

• “Limited time offers” should never require you to make a decision on the spot. Rather say: “I’ll think about it and call you back. What’s your number?”

• Be suspicious of anyone who tells you not to discuss the offer with someone else.
A good comeback is: “I’ll discuss it with my family and get back to you.”

• If you don’t understand all the verbal details, ask for it in writing: “I can’t make a decision until I receive written information.”

• If a salesperson will not provide written information about his or her company – including the company’s name, address and telephone – do business with someone else.

• If someone calls from a “government agency” requesting money, ask for a certified letter on an official letterhead.

• We encourage all of our clients to be vigilant at all times, in order to avoid being scammed. If you are in any doubt as to the authenticity of an e-mail or offer of any other sort, please contact us, and we will assist you in verifying its legitimacy.

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