Explainer – How can I avoid a financial services scam?

Financial Services Scam

Take the “SAFE” test

Fraudsters are finding increasingly sophisticated ways to target us.

They are using social media, fake websites and copying legitimate websites to trick us into parting with our money and personal data.

Fraudsters may offer financial products such as:

  • Investments promising high returns
  • Pensions and savings products with eye-catching benefits
  • Mortgages and loans
  • Cheap insurance policies

Remember, if you are offered something that seems too good to be true, it is most likely a scam.  

So, if you are considering buying that product or dealing with that firm, through a website or social media, or if you receive an unsolicited phone call, email, text message or pop-up box out of the blue, take the SAFE test first.  

S – Stop                             

Stop, think and ask yourself:

What is this firm offering? Who is contacting me? Where did they get my contact details? Who are they? Do I feel rushed to provide personal or financial information? Remember, there is no short-term advantage to making quick decisions on your longer-term financial wellbeing.                            

A – Assess

Assess the information you are being presented with and make sure the firm is legitimate. Check Central Bank of Ireland’s registers to see if the firm is authorised. Even if the firm appears to be authorised, you should still make sure it is genuine. It’s common for scammers to pretend to be genuine by “cloning” the appearance of an authorised firm. Check for any irregularities such as misspellings and grammatical errors in the firm’s website, emails or paperwork. Call the firm using its publicly advertised phone number.

F – Fact-check

Fact-check the offer to make sure it is from a trusted source. Never provide your personal information or agree to send money unless you are satisfied that the firm is authorised and genuine. Ask yourself: Is the financial service or product I am being offered from trusted sources? Is this a genuine financial product?  Do I need this product? Does it seem too good to be true? Seek advice from someone you trust to help you make good financial decisions.  

E – Expose and report

If you have any concerns that a firm is not genuine or is not authorised to sell financial products, we want to hear from you. We have powers to investigate and take action against these fraudsters. We are here to support and protect you and we work closely with the Gardaí to stop and prevent financial criminals from taking advantage of our loved ones and us. You can make your report to us directly on our website or by phoning us on +353 (0)1 224 4000.

Remember, if you engage with an unauthorised firm, you lose important protections designed to look after you if things go wrong. For example, you are not able to make a claim under the Investor Compensation Scheme, and the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman will not be able to help you with your complaint. This means you are unlikely to get your money back if things go wrong.

Please also remember that the Central Bank will never contact you asking for money.

Financial Services Scam Explainer Infographic

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