Investment and cryptocurrency scams
Looking to invest some spare money? There are many reasons to invest, but any investor can become a victim of scams. Here are some simple steps you can take to keep yourself safe.
Published on: 20 January 2022
How safe is investing?
An investment is something you buy with the hope that it will gain value in the years to come.
Investment always has a level of risk. Their value can go down as well as up, so you may get back less than you originally invested.
But we know criminals are also targeting investments, making them that much riskier.
For example, criminals set up unregulated firms and pretend to be genuine investment firms to trick you into investing. They copy a company’s name and address, use fake emails and websites, and even use real employees’ names.
They also promise large returns if you invest in things such as property, gold or cryptocurrency. These may look real, but they’re stealing people’s money.
Some forms of investment are riskier than others
Cryptocurrency is a virtual currency. There is no tangible money. And, crucially for scammers, many cryptoassets are not regulated. So, you’re unlikely to get your money back if something goes wrong.
If you’re not sure how it works, do not invest in it.
If you’re interested in crypto, please read the Financial Services Compensation Scheme's guide to the risks of cryptocurrency investing (opens in a new window).
Warning signs to look out for
Scammers may call or email you repeatedly to pressure you into making a quick decision.
Criminals may offer you limited time discounts. They may also claim others have invested and want in on the deal, so you need to act fast. Always take time to think it through and make sure this is the right investment for you. It's your money.
They may pay a return on an investment at the start to lure you in to investing more. This is a trick. Know when to call it a day.
They may promise unrealistic returns that sound much better than elsewhere. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
They may share fake reviews to pretend to be trustworthy. Search online for independent reviews and known scams.
They may tell you to pay a different company from the one you’re supposed to be investing with. Do not trust them.
Safe investing tips
Here are some ways you can help keep yourself safe from scammers.
Avoid any unexpected investment offers you’ve received online, on social media or over the phone. Over £63 million was lost nationally by victims of investment fraud over social media last year (Source: 2021 Action Fraud report (opens in a new window)).
Be wary when contacting firms you've found online while searching for investments. Check the FCA warning list (opens in a new window) for firms to avoid.
Check the FCA register (opens in a new window) to make sure the firm or person you’re speaking to is authorised or on the list of firms with temporary registration.
The FCA register (opens in a new window) will tell you the firm’s telephone number and email address. Always use these, not contact details given by the firm. Scammers may change the number or email address slightly to trick you.
Check any paperwork you’ve been sent for inconsistencies.
Always get impartial advice before committing to any investments.
If you’re interested in getting into investing, we’re also happy to help you invest safely and securely.
How we can help
If you’re making a payment from your Nationwide current account to someone else in the UK and you're not sure about it, you can talk to us about it first. This can be a payment in branch, on our Banking app or Internet Bank, or through Open Banking. This is our Scam Checker Service. Some payments are excluded.
Stop. Challenge. Protect
We're proud to be supporting the industry fraud awareness campaign Take Five, which encourages you to perfect the art of saying NO to fraudsters by taking five minutes to Stop, Challenge, Protect.
Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police so it can be difficult to spot scam texts, emails and phone calls. However, there are things we can all do to protect ourselves.
Always remember to challenge if someone contacts you asking for your personal or financial information – be direct and say NO. Saying NO can feel uncomfortable but it’s OK to reject, refuse or ignore requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
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