Investment scams

Scam awareness series – how safe is your personal data?

Samantha Street Samantha Street

Our three-part series explores how secure your personal data is and how to keep your information protected from fraudsters

In part one we explore how safe your personal data is and how quickly it can be obtained by fraudsters?

Firstly, we must consider what information we share publicly across our social media profiles and how fraudsters might use this information. Do we know if the websites we share our details with are secure? What levels of security are provided when we use public WiFi?

This video explores what happened when members of the public were encouraged to 'like' a Facebook post to win a free cup of coffee. Find out how long it took fraudsters to access and assimilate their information.

Video courtesy of @Cifas_UK

Ask yourself:

  • What personal data do you use to set your passwords?
  • How much personal data do you share, not just in one post and in one account, but across it all?
  • How accurately does it all reflect your personal lifestyle and profile?

Maybe you don’t post much but your friends often tag you, you like posts or you retweet. How much of a picture does this paint of you? How much of your story does it tell?

Fraudsters don’t need to pay for databases to target their victims anymore. As we post on the go, eager to keep the world afoot of our activities, preferences and opinions, many of us are walking victims. This information can be very accessible, then all it takes is:

  • an informed targeted and persuasive call or email catching you off guard, you send the money generally via bank transfer (which offers no protection unlike credit card payments) and once transferred you are typically unable to recover these monies  
  • the sale of your house and purchase of your dream home is intervened and the funds intercepted
  • the bank demands repayment of a £150,000 personal loan, the application contains all of your personal data, the signature looks like yours, but it definitely wasn’t you

None of us are invincible to cyber-attacks, scams or being defrauded.

It was reported that several high profile celebrities and others fell victim to a film development scam
defrauding over 275 investors of more than £76 million.

TalkTalk was hacked in 2015, personal data for around 157,000 customers was stolen, some of whom subsequently discovered funds withdrawn from their accounts. It is unknown how many people may have been scammed as a consequence of the breach.

Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and cybercrime reporting service commented,"Investment scam victims lose an average of £20,000 to fraudsters". "The annual cost of fraud in the UK has been estimated at £193 billion – equal to nearly £3,000 per head of population” according to Annual Fraud Indicator 2016 and equating to a cost to the UK of ‘£6,000 per second".

Ian Dyson, City of London Police Commissioner, said "What the reporting service can’t illustrate is the human cost of fraud which ruins lives and blights every community in the UK". These are scary statistics and that’s only based on what’s reported.

If you believe you have been victim to a scam, please send us an email: