Fraud: It Could Happen to You

Editor's Views: The worst thing you can do is read a fraud story and think "it will never happen to me" 

Holly Black 4 June, 2021 | 10:03AM
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The scariest thing about fraudsters is how quick they are to adapt.

When the UK went into lockdown and households were receiving more post and parcels than ever before, the scam parcel texts started arriving. As the vaccine rollout has picked up the pace across the UK, so too have the number of vaccine-related scams.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of people handing over their life savings to someone on the end of the phone promising they’re from the bank, the courier on the doorstep, or the new online love interest sending you sweet nothings through Tinder.

This week’s tale of fraud took my breath away. The idea of being scammed not just once, but twice, is heartbreaking. The devastating impact on your finances and emotional wellbeing is unimaginable. And the most dangerous thing we can do is read these cautionary tales and think “it would never happen to me”. Because the truth is, we’re all as vulnerable as each other, and thinking it wouldn’t happen to you makes you easy prey.

Fraudsters are sophisticated and well-practiced; they know exactly what to say to make us panic and comply. They speak with authority and create a feeling of urgency; they have the answers to all your questions.

As our lives move increasingly online, and our brains are stuffed to bursting trying to remember all the different CaSe Sens!tiv3 passwords we’re told to conjure up, the risks only increase. There are simple and obvious things we can all do to protect against fraud: don’t share personal information on social media, track your bank statements, and be very wary of any unsolicited calls, texts or emails – particularly if they have spelling mistakes. But most important of all: never assume it won’t happen to you.

Posties not Profits

On a slightly more positive note about the increase of post and parcels in our lives, the trend has clearly been a boon for our stock of the week Royal Mail. There was much fanfare when this British institution listed on the stock market in 2014 and it’s certainly a favourite stock among our readers. But the company has been written off by many an investor in recent years, as it struggled to adapt to the modern world.

The letters business is dwindling, that’s for sure – and it’s no wonder when the price of a first class stamp is now 85p. But I love my postie. She knows my name (duh, she delivers my post, after all), she says hello to my dog, and she knows where to leave things safely if I’m out. I trust her to deliver something breakable far more than a random delivery driver – I’ve seen those pictures of parcels being thrown over fences and on roofs, after all. And I expect a lot of people feel the same about their own postman.

Royal Mail (RMG) is a great example of where investment portfolios and our private lives collide. A lot of people feel very strongly about this stock because of a personal affinity with the company. Having a good postman doesn’t necessarily mean Royal Mail is a first class investment, but I do believe the likeability of a business has something to do with its ability to survive. When we make everything about profits, we forget that service and personal experience are hugely important factors in a company’s success too.

 

The information contained within is for educational and informational purposes ONLY. It is not intended nor should it be considered an invitation or inducement to buy or sell a security or securities noted within nor should it be viewed as a communication intended to persuade or incite you to buy or sell security or securities noted within. Any commentary provided is the opinion of the author and should not be considered a personalised recommendation. The information contained within should not be a person's sole basis for making an investment decision. Please contact your financial professional before making an investment decision.

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About Author

Holly Black  is Senior Editor, Morningstar.co.uk