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Financial scams, savings, pensions and investment

20 September 2016

10:30 AM

20 September 2016

10:30 AM

A financial scam was committed once every 15 seconds in the first half of the year, prompting a new campaign to highlight the risks.

More than one million cases of card, cheque, phone or online fraud were recorded from January to June, Financial Fraud Action (FFA) said. That was a 53 per cent rise on the same period last year.

The FFA, which is funded by banks and payment card firms, is pushing advice to help prevent fraud. Losses are often refunded by banks, but not in every case. Many people are too embarrassed to admit they have been caught out. 

Savers

At a time when savings rates are reaching record lows, there are clearly far fewer ways of earning a decent return. Surprisingly, a current account could be a salvation for savers weathering the current climate, thanks to the rewards they offer.

Moneyfacts.co.uk says that by making use of the Current Account Switch Guarantee (which has been in force for three years this month), spenders and savers alike could earn up to £220 in the first year when moving their account.

Despite this service, millions could still be missing out on a better deal, as it has been estimated that just three million people have ditched their old account since 2013.

Moneyfacts.co.uk research shows that the most rewarding current accounts can offer an equivalent interest rate of up to 11 per cent based on £2,000 cash in the first year. In contrast, the average easy access savings account would pay just 0.46 per cent, which translates to a dismal earning of only £9.20 in the first year.

Small businesses

Many self-employed people in the UK are working excessively long hours without taking any holidays, research from cloud accounting software company FreeAgent has revealed.


In a poll of more than 500 freelancers and micro-business owners carried out by FreeAgent, nearly a third of respondents said they worked more than 48 hours per week on their business, while 6 per cent admitted that they spent more than 64 hours each week working.

FreeAgent, who provide award-winning cloud software for freelancers, micro-business owners and their accountants, also found that nearly half of respondents said they had not felt able to take a week or more’s worth of holiday in the past six months.

But the poll also revealed that, despite the long hours and lack of holidays, many micro-business owners are content with their working life – with 74 per cent saying that they felt they had a good work-life balance.

Students

New students are being alerted to a scam where fraudsters claim to offer a ‘educational grant’ in a bid to con them into divulging bank details.

The personal finance site Money Saving Expert says it is aware of students at major universities being targeted in a new wave of ‘phishing emails’.

At Queen Mary University London, one student was tricked out of £300. University of Glasgow said it was also aware of the scam and had advised students to ignore the email.

Pensions

The Guardian reports that the chair of parliament’s work and pensions committee has called on regulators to intervene against the ‘dumping’ of a retirement scheme for current and former workers at Bernard Matthews, the turkey producer, as part of a takeover deal.

Frank Field – who has led calls for former BHS chief executive Sir Philip Green to rectify the black hole in that company’s pension fund – spoke out against a deal that will see the Bernard Matthews retirement scheme being passed on to an industry-backed safety net for the pensions of insolvent companies.

Water prices

Introducing competition in the water supply market could save households £8 on their annual bill, or 66p a month, the same amount as the price of a branded bottle of water in a supermarket.

That is the conclusion of Ofwat, the water regulator, which, despite the paucity of potential savings, has indicated it is keen to go ahead with implementing the government’s policy of bringing competition into the domestic supply market.

According to The Times, Ofwat believes that competition will force suppliers to get more innovative in developing and marketing water-saving techniques in homes.

Investment

Rock-bottom returns are increasingly pushing investors to abandon the drive for socially responsible investments, according to a study from Hermes Investment Management.

The Telegraph reports that a survey of more than 100 institutional investors found that 60 per cent believe that environmental, social and corporate governance risks justify rejecting an otherwise attractive investment – down from 67 per cent a year ago.

Eight in 10 also rejected the idea that socially responsible investment makes institutions less susceptible to market volatility, while the proportion who believe corporate governance risks should be priced into investment decisions slipped a touch on the year.


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